You’ve Got To Be Taught

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: February 9, 2009

PHILADELPHIA — Dig, if you will, a picture:

A playground and children immersed in just being kids: on the monkey bars, swings, the sliding board, see saws, playing tag. All colors, many ethnic groups, just…playing.

You’ve got to be taught , To hate and fear;

You’ve got to be taught, From year to year;

It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear

You’ve got to be carefully taught…

And as the video of the kids playing rolls, a haunting female voice sings the message. What I didn’t notice when I first saw this public service announcement aired (in 1960 or 1961, I think – I was rather young then) was that the kids were playing just fine – and no adults were in plain sight.

While the lyric was strong enough to sit in a young kid’s head for over 45 years is one thing; but seeing the message play out in real time as the games grownups play carry on to this day is the issue at hand…

London Calling

Over in the United Kingdom, some of the blue bloods are showing their red necks.

According to the website, Carol Fletcher, daughter of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and a host on BBC1′s The One Show, made racist remarks when speaking about French tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Thatcher made multiple references describing Tsonga, who is multi-ethnic, (French/African) as a “golliwog”, “half-golliwog” and “golliwog Frog”, sources say.

Thatcher, who made these comments in the green room, reportedly spewed her insults in front of 12 people, including presenter Adrian Chiles, comedian Jo Brand and a representative from the Comic Relief charity.

In Britain, “golliwog” is equivalent to being called “Nigger” in the “colonies.”

I believe “Bloody ‘Wogs!” is the pejorative statement of choice…

You’ve got…to be…carefully taught…

The golliwog, which was originally a doll depicted in a children’s story, grew to become a sign of pure stereotyping of Black people – the minstrel face, exaggerated facial features and wild hair – kinduva ghetto version of a Raggedy Ann doll – in blackface.

It has also been connected to a company which used it as a symbol to sell its jams and preserves. James Robertson & Sons has used the golliwog (later shortened to “golly”) as a trademark for all of its products since the early 1900s.

You’ve got to be taught…from year to year…

A week after the comments on Tsonga, who by the way, bears a slight resemblance to “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, Thatcher was called out on her comments and apparently refused to apologize for her remarks. She was then fired from her gig as a roving reporter for the show.

It was later confirmed by a story in the London Times which reported Thatcher had made variations on her comment several times in the green room.

“‘Golliwog’ wasn’t the half of it, it is much worse than what has come out,” a source told A spokesperson for Fletcher said it had been an off-the-cuff remark “made in jest.”

Later all the reports on what had happened in the green room, were “uncorroborated,” according to the spokesperson. When asked about it, Thatcher said the whole incident was “total bollocks” in describing what happened.

BBC officials reported over 3,000 calls on the incident – and death threats were allegedly tossed about. Reportedly Thatcher is contemplating telling – or selling — her side of the story to another paper.

Given the “Paki” comments made by Prince Harry and his Hitler Halloween costume (Didn’t the Germans fucking bomb London???) it seems some of the upper crust more resemble crumbs – than topping.

Okay – so maybe this to some isn’t as horrid as throwing bananas and making monkey chants as they do on some pitches in Europe at Black players (sometimes even at their own ‘teammates’)

But when I think back on that PSA, all I can remember is how happy all those kids were before the camera pans out; probably because there were no adults around to poison their playtime.

“You’ve got to be carefully taught…you’ve got to be taught

To hate and fear…

Fade to Black.