Concerns About Racism Are “Weird”

by Guest Contributor Lisa, originally published at Sociological Images

We recently posted about a baby doll pulled from Costco shelves after concerns that it was racist.  Early news stories reported on a black doll called “Lil’ Monkey” and a white doll called “Pretty Panda.”  As the story developed, it became clear that both dolls came in white, black, and Hispanic versions.  It made for an interesting discussion:  (1) Given the history of associating black people with primates, would it have been racist had the doll only came in black monkey and white panda versions?  And (2) given the history of associating black people with primates, was it racist, regardless, to make a black “Lil’ Monkey” doll that potentially triggered and/or effectively ignored this history?

The CBS affiliate in Denver linked to our post and discussion in their story about the controversy…

…which was published under “weird news.”


I am trying to keep my cool here.

Justification for African slavery was built on an association of black people with primates designed to deny black humanity.  Institutional, social psychological, and symbolic racism is ongoing in the U.S. and profoundly inhibits the life chances of black and brown people.

And yet when people say “hey, this makes me uncomfortable,” they are ridiculed and slotted into “weird news.”

It doesn’t even matter whether the intent or effect of the doll is racist.  Let me say that again: For this discussion, it doesn’t matter whether the intent or effect of the doll is racist.

Concerns about racism are trivialized when raising the question is defined as simply “weird.”  Even more, it is yet another way to deny the humanity of people of color.  When they and their allies raise their voices to weigh in on what representations of blackness are acceptable, they are dismissed like petty children or lunatics.  It is nothing less than a stunning lack of empathy.

If you needed evidence that we are not post-racial… well, there you have it.

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.

Use the "for:racialicious" tag in to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.

Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.

Follow Us on Twitter!

Support Racialicious

The Octavia Butler Book Club

The Octavia Butler Book Club
(Click the book for the latest conversation)

Recent Comments

Feminism for Real – Jessica, Latoya, Andrea

Feminism for Real

Yes Means Yes – Latoya

Yes Means Yes

Sex Ed and Youth – Jessica

Youth and Sexual Health


Online Media Legal Network

Recent Posts

Support Racialicious

Older Archives


Written by: