This post is from regular Guest Hoyden baroquestar. Baroquestar is a 28 year old singer who has just completed (CONGRATULATIONS!) her Masters degree in museum geekery. She likes to make trouble in her spare time.
I will admit, I’ve been walking past this particular outrage for a couple of weeks now, and it was only today that the exposure level hit critical levels and I snapped, metaphorically and, um, onomatopoeically.
You know those skilltester machines, right? Built to dangle the promise of cheap gimcrackery at small child eye-level, at a dollar or two a pop. My sister was always pretty good at them, but I’ve never otherwise seen anyone actually WIN anything from a skilltester machine.
There’s one in the side entrance foyer of the shopping centre I get my lunch from on workdays. Normally it’s filled with generic stuffed animals, but lo, the other week, a new toy.
Stuffed toy caricatures of black men, complete with afro hairstyles, big cartoonish red lips, and banana print shirts.
Could they BE any more stereotyped and offensive?
Oh, sure they could.
By putting them in a display labelled “Zany Zoo”.
I shit you not.
So yes, today I couldn’t just walk past it any more. I took some snaps, then rang Centre Management. I explained that I knew that the machines were stocked by an outside company, but that playing host to a massively offensive racist stereotype wasn’t reflecting all that well on their corporate image as a “premier shopping destination”.
Not sure about the reaction I received, it sat somewhere between genuine bemusement and corporate placation. We’ll see if it’s still there next week, I guess.