Haribo recalled a bunch of candies after much outrage about how the candies represented an assortment of races including African Americans, Africans, Asians and Native Americans. They single-handedly managed to offend just about everyone in one bag of licorice candy! The intention of the candy was to be inclusive. The bag is called “Skipper Mix” and is intended to represent what a ship captain would find if he travelled the world instead it looks like what colonialist, conquistador or imperialist might find if he travelled the world through ethnocentric eyes: racial caricatures.
What really steams my carrots is that the author of this article at Hello Beautiful is painfully ignorant and defends these representations of races. The writer, Danielle Young, actually said, “In fact, Africans, Asians and Native Americans rarely get to see themselves represented in everything from candy to the mainstream media. It’s actually flattering that the candy company would make a cultural candy so bold.”
Yes, African Americans are dying to bring the “Sambo” and “Picaninny“—outlandish images of African Americans that portrayed them as stupid, jolly, watermelon loving buffoons—back into mainstream culture. They are just wishing those minstrels would come back. We actually love it when people do blackface.
No but if you think her comments are just misguided you really need to hear this, “These images are no more racist to me than the mascot for the Redskins or the stereotypically offensive images of Sambo.” Is she straight up stupid. Her defense of these racist images is citing that they look like other notably racist images?
The pictures of the African American caricatures are literally taken from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. A museum that houses racist artifacts during Jim Crow in order to teach folks about tolerance and respect of other cultures. If you think racial representation is troubling today just a few decades ago we lived in a country where Mickey Rooney wore prosethetic makeup to portray an Asian in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A movie that is considered iconic has probably one of the most offensive portrayals of Asians in American film history.
Then of course there are the portrayals of Native Americans. Ones that some Americans love to tell Native Americans to “stop complaining about.” If a “Sambo” character represented a team called “Black People,” there’d be a lot more outrage. Let’s not forget we live in country that slyly ignores the fact that we committed genocide. To quote a writer for Bleacher Report who sums up the point nicely, “In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Cleveland Indians mascot would come out of his tee-pee and do a dance when Cleveland hit a home run. This is mocking the Native American people and not honoring them at all. Naming a team an Native American Indian name like that is like calling a team the ‘Warsaw Jews’ or the ‘Auschwitz Jews.’ Personally, as a Jew I would take offense to this and I’m hoping everyone else would.”
This Danielle Young person is on some next level ignorance shit.
But look, I get the point and I am not even hating on Haribo who totally did the right thing by listening to their customers, acknowledging they made a mistake and correcting it. When it comes to being sensitive to race, class, gender and sexual orientation we’re not always going to get things right. I am more annoyed that the writer is so profoundly ignorant she believes that minstrels and caricatures of races are what people of color are asking for when they demand better representation and the insinuation that we should be flattered by this is condescending and incorrect. It’s like when people say about Thomas Jefferson, “Oh, but he was nice to his slaves.” Yes, he was nice to the people he owned. Yes, how nice of Haribo to include exclusively racist caricatures in their “multicultural” candy. Haribo eventually did the right thing but some people really just don’t get it, do they?