#nestlefamily: fobbing off Nestle chocolate slavery critique with Oompa Loompa “jokes”

[I’m updating the links roundup at the end, in case you’re wondering why this post keeps popping up in your RSS feed.]

For those not following the #nestlefamily hashtag on twitter, it’s about a current ‘conference’ being held by Nestle. They’ve invited a bunch of advertiser “mommybloggers” to come and be feted and given freebies and fed Nestlé propaganda for a weekend. I don’t know what the other financial arrangements might be, but the bloggers are enthusiastically advertising Nestle all over their blogs and twitter accounts.

Unsurprisingly, people involved in anti-Nestle activism are unimpressed, and are providing a bunch of educational links (and the occasional rant) about the ethics and abuses of Nestle on the #nestlefamily hashtag.

If you’re unaware of the Nestle boycott and the reasons behind it, firstly have you been asleep for the past few decades?, and secondly, you can catch up here (and search any of my posts on the WHO Code):

A Formula For Disaster

International Baby Food Action Network


Boycott Nestle Blog

Slave Chocolate?

AFRICA: The Dark Side of Chocolate

Ban The Bags

One of two of the Nestlebloggers has at least pretended to say “hey, I didn’t know about that, I’ll check it out”. The rest are knee-jerking about how “high school” all the “drama” is, and about how THEY fed their baby formula and HE turned out FINE, and about how … well, there’s no other logic there, really. Check out some of their responses here:

My thoughts on the “Nestle Drama” #nestlefamily (mommygoggles)

TUesday’s Tidbits: Invastion of the Hashtag Snatchers

One of them, sheilacakes7, has just tweeted this:

Lets Save the Oompa Loompas!

“Lets Save the Oompa Loompas! #nestlefamily”


“If Nestle is bad then I am a Vermicious Knid! #nestlefamily”

My response:

“Oompa Loompahs were a racist caricature based on African slavery. Great “joke” RT @sheilacakes7: Lets Save the Oompa Loompas! #nestlefamily”

Her response to my response?

“@ilauredhel Thats why they are ORANGE! moron…..”

Wow. That’s one snowflake alright.

For those not familiar with the book:

‘Oompa-Loompas!’ everyone said at once. ‘Oompa-Loompas!’

‘Imported direct from Loompaland,’ said Mr Wonka proudly.

‘There’s no such place,’ said Mrs Salt.

‘Excuse me, dear lady, but . . .’

‘Mr Wonka,’ cried Mrs Salt. ‘I’m a teacher of geography…”

‘Then you’ll know all about it,’ said Mr Wonka. ‘And oh, what a terrible country it is! Nothing but thick jungles infested by the most dangerous beasts in the world ? hornswogglers and snozzwangers and those terrible wicked whangdoodles. A whangdoodle would eat ten Oompa-Loompas for breakfast and come galloping back for a second helping. When I went out there, I found the little Oompa-Loompas living in tree houses. They had to live in tree houses to escape from the whangdoodles and the hornswogglers and the snozzwangers. And they were living on green caterpillars, and the caterpillars tasted revolting, and the Oompa-Loompas spent every moment of their days climbing through the treetops looking for other things to mash up with the caterpillars to make them taste better – red beetles, for instance, and eucalyptus leaves, and the bark of the bong-bong tree, all of them beastly, but not quite so beastly as the caterpillars. Poor little Oompa-Loompas! The one food that they longed for more than any other was the cacao bean. But they couldn’t get it.

An Oompa-Loompa was lucky if he found three or four cacao beans a year. But oh, how they craved them. They used to dream about cacao beans all night and talk about them all day. You had only to mention the word “cacao” to an Oompa-Loompa and he would start dribbling at the mouth. The cacao bean,’ Mr Wonka continued, ‘which grows on the cacao tree, happens to be the thing from which all chocolate is made. You cannot make chocolate without the cacao bean. The cacao bean is chocolate.

I myself use billions of cacao beans every week in this factory. And so, my dear children, as soon as I discovered that the Oompa-Loompas were crazy about this particular food, I climbed up to their tree-house village and poked my head in through the door of the tree house belonging to the leader of the tribe. The poor little fellow, looking thin and starved, was sitting there trying to eat a bowl full of mashed-up green caterpillars without being sick. “Look here,” I said (speaking not in English, of course, but in Oompa-Loompish), “look here, if you and all your people will come back to my country and live in my factory, you can have all the cacao beans you want! I’ve got mountains of them in my storehouses! You can have cacao beans for every meal! You can gorge yourselves silly on them! I’ll even pay your wages in cacao beans if you wish!”

Depp in a pith helmet, offering Oompa Loompahs work for all the cocoa beans they can eat

‘”You really mean it?” asked the Oompa-Loompa leader, leaping up from his chair.

‘”Of course I mean it,” I said. “And you can have chocolate as well. Chocolate tastes even better than cacao beans because it’s got milk and sugar added.”

‘The little man gave a great whoop of joy and threw his bowl of mashed caterpillars right out of the tree-house window. “It’s a deal!” he cried. “Come on! Let’s go!”

‘So I shipped them all over here, every man, woman, and child in the Oompa-Loompa tribe. It was easy. I smuggled them over in large packing cases with holes in them, and they all got here safely. They are wonderful workers. They all speak English now. They love dancing and music. They are always making up songs.

I expect you will hear a good deal of singing today from time to time. I must warn you, though, that they are rather mischievous. They like jokes. They still wear the same kind of clothes they wore in the jungle. They insist upon that. The men, as you can see for yourselves across the river, wear only deerskins. The women wear leaves, and the children wear nothing at all. The women use fresh leaves every day . . .’

‘Daddy!’ shouted Veruca Salt (the girl who got everything she wanted). ‘Daddy! I want an Oompa-Loompa! I want you to get me an Oompa-Loompa! I want an Oompa-Loompa right away! I want to take it home with me! Go on, Daddy! Get me an Oompa-Loompa!’

‘Now, now, my pet!’ her father said to her, ‘we mustn’t interrupt Mr Wonka.’

“But I want an Oompa-Loompa!’ screamed Veruca.

‘All right, Veruca, all right. But I can’t get it for you this second. Please be patient. I’ll see you have one before the day is out.’

I love Dahl’s storytelling. Danny the Champion of the World is one of the triumphs of children’s literature. But his racism is very well established. (I wouldn’t mind a few two- or three- dimensional female characters, too. And a pony.) Turning a caricature of an African cacao slave into an orange pygmy chocolate slave (who you pay in cacao beans, FFS) doesn’t suddenly evaporate the racism — or the slavery.

How could anyone hope to argue that Oompa Loompah jokes about child chocolate slavery aren’t racist?


Edited to add: MORE:

PhD In Parenting: An open letter to the attendees of the Nestle Family blogger event

Mike Brady’s Boycott Nestle blog: “Nestlé family Twitters”

Crunchy Carpets: “What Are People Thinking?”

Domestic Dork, “I Don’t Understand

Wired for Noise: What I Learned From the #nestlefamily Drama? People Suck

Blacktating: “#NestleFamily, Bloggers & Race: Why It Matters

Categories: ethics & philosophy, social justice

Tags: , , , , , ,

88 replies

  1. Where have you been all my life?

  2. *headdesk*. The one [deleted] about the photo of the woman with the twins particularly saddened me. AFAIK it’s a simple story, the son was fed with breastmilk, and the daughter fed with watered down formula hence the difference in size. If she was being fed normal strength formula like Western babies she would have been the same size or larger than her brother. But formula is expensive, and so watering it down makes it last longer. How hard is it to understand that Nestle undermines breastfeeding and then sells expensive formula that it knows parents will water down so that it last longer?
    But of course it’s not Nestles’ fault, they aren’t watering down the formula, they have a right to make a profit. Besides, I like chocolate. /sarcasm

  3. Nestle ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

  4. I’m in moderation at mommygoggles. What’s the bet I don’t get through?
    My comment:
    The breastfed baby is a boy. The bottle fed baby is a girl. She is being fed watered down formula because formula is so expensive. This is a deliberate marketing ploy by Nestle and other formula makers. The mother probably did have enough milk for two babies, but someone convinced her otherwise. That’s what they do – they convince mothers that babies are better off with formula then sell it at a huge price compared to the parent’s income, so it gets watered down and the children suffer. But as long as you are enjoying your chocolate I guess it’s all okay.

  5. Actually if you look it up the Oompa Loompah were portrayed as Pygmy people when R. Dahl first wrote Charlie, it was later changed.

  6. OOPs saw you looked it up already…just emphasizing the already stated point then:)

  7. I have been boycotting Nestle since I was at uni (omg 15 years ago?!) because of the formula issues, but I only recently found out about the slavery involved in the production of chocolate. Thanks for spreading the word.

  8. Looking at the post at mommygoggles has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I bet your comment never makes it through Mindy. There doesn’t seem to be a desire to engage there – they are just sticking their tongues out at those that wish to point out the problems with Nestle.

  9. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt at the moment because I suspect they are asleep. But tomorrow I will know for sure. If only I had patience…

  10. Ya know, Its pretty pathetic that you wrote an entire post about me. You took what I was saying completely out of context. In case you didn’t know WONKA is a Nestle Brand. Oompa Loompas are in Willy Wonka and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and they make the chocolate. I really think you need to figure out something else to do with your time than jump all over someone who was just being silly. I was trying to lighten the mood on the hashtag.
    dn’t s wh y r gng s nsn bt n nncnt lttl twt. Myb t stms frm sm psychlgcl brk dwn y hd.
    No one but you said anything about race. It’s so sad that race has to be brought up in everything when it isn’t even warranted. You should of been able to tell by my response I wasn’t being racist. You my friend are making a mountain out of a molehill. I am sorry to all the Orange people that got their feelings hurt!

    [ableist abuse disemvowelled ~L]

  11. Clue to new commenters: no, I’m not going to publish your exclamation-filled comments about which Nestle product you LURRRRVE best.

  12. Anyone want to post the above to Speak You’re Branes?
    I tried to follow your links, but blogs with Chick Lit style headers, multiple cartoon smilies everywhere and thinly veiled product endorsements just make my brane hurt. Also, the absolute refusal to engage with the topic. (Yes, Virginia, there is a topic. They are not just being meeeeeeean.)

  13. Oompa Loompas are in Willy Wonka and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and they make the chocolate.

    Nooo…. really? That changes EVERYTHING.

    No one but you said anything about race.

    You’re cracking jokes about child slavery on cocoa plantations in Africa. This has everything to do with race, and always has.
    Read the post and links, and abide by the commenting policy before commenting here again.

  14. So Sheila, do you normally “lighten the mood” by calling people morons? And making racist jokes about slavery? How’s that working out for you, socially?

  15. I didn’t say anything about child slavery or race. Seriously. I would never say anything like that. You are reading too much in to something that is not there.

  16. @ Sheila – Did you see the excerpt from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” that Lauredhel posted that talks about the Oompa Loompas?

  17. @Sheila, like Lauredhel said “You’re cracking jokes about child slavery on cocoa plantations in Africa. This has everything to do with race, and always has.”

  18. I was talking more about Willy Wonka the movie. But see the book is fiction. There is no such place as loompa land. It’s all make believe. It’s not real and not meant to be. That is the beauty of make believe.

  19. I wasn’t cracking jokes about child slavery or any race related jokes. I don’t know where you are reading more in to it. I think you guys should see that it was just something to lighten up the hashtag. I understand you guys are friends and you have each others back but seriously it wasn’t meant to be mean or meanspirited or rude to anyone.

  20. I’m not making racist remarks or making fun of slavery. Your friend was the one that turned it in to a race issue.

    • Sheila, the story of the Oompa Loompas has always been about the slavery of one race by another. That it is fictional doesn’t make that disappear – it describes an attitude that some people are not entitled to freedom, self-determination or proper recompense for their labour. Defending it as just make believe is terribly insensitive to the histories of people whose ancestors were enslaved in the past and the plight of people in slavery today – their misery and degradation is real, not make-believe at all. How dare Nestle actually name a chocolate bar after a slaver, fictional or not?
      Edit: Sorry L – I replied from the admin interface and didn’t see that there were another 10 comments. Delete this one if you like.

  21. And yes I called her a moron. I was just called racist. Wouldn’t that upset you?
    Moderator Note to Sheila:
    On this blog we have a facility that allows people to edit their comments. Please use it in future for your PS style additions instead of posting comment after comment after comment. You might also want to read our comments policy, please. ~tigtog

  22. Sheila perhaps if you read some of the links provided you would see that the real life “Oompa Loompas” are small children being forced to work in plantations on the Ivory Coast. The same plantations that Nestle buy from despite international pressure not to buy from people who use child labour. That’s why your remarks are being read as racist and making fun of slavery.
    Yes the book was fiction, but the dots are easy to join really.

  23. Really, snowflake?
    That’s a racial slur.

  24. Jesus Christ, Sheila, no one is -that- obtuse. If you’re not getting it by now it’s because, for whatever reason, you don’t -want- to get it. Of -course- no one used the -words- racism or slavery; because everyone knows racism and slavery are bad mkay. Ergo, we’ll just defend a company that uses actual racist and slavery-like conditions and crack jokes about “Oompa Loompas” which -has nothing to do with anything, which is why someone just happened to think that was funny in this context-.
    This shit’s -real-. understand? They’re -not- fictional “Oompa Loompas,” the -people- who’re actually being exploited to make Nestle products? Not. That. Difficult.

  25. @Sheila: “And yes I called her a moron. I was just called racist. Wouldn’t that upset you?”
    Actually, it might make me sit back and think about whether I had unthinkingly made a racist remark, rather than having a knee-jerk reaction and assuming the other person was wrong and calling them names, but hey, whatevs.
    And @Kate, snowflake doesn’t refer to colour, it refers to a belief that you’re more special than anyone else. It’s because of the popular (and incorrect) belief that every snowflake is unique. See definition here

  26. Really, snowflake? That’s a racial slur.

    (a) it’s not about whiteness, it’s about not being quite as unique and special as you think you are. Examples: 1, 2, 3.
    (b) If it were about whiteness, a white person talking about another person’s white privilege would not be racism. Racism = prejudice + power. Further “You’re just racist against white people!” comments will not be published. Read the comments policy and do some 101 for yourself before commenting further.

  27. I was just called racist. Wouldn’t that upset you?

    I did not call you a racist. You did a racist thing, which I pointed out. Most of us do, from time to time. The next step is what you do next, after being called on that one racist action. You chose to follow up with ableist abuse and defences and denials of the racist behaviour. Will people here judge you on that? Yep, they will. You had other options. You still do.

  28. At this point I’d just like to point new commenters to our draft pile-on policy. Sheila, I’ve give you a fair bit of extra “right of reply” leeway here, but that’s running out.

  29. So because he used a fictional name for the place and the characters suddenly we are to assume that he got the idea completely out of thing air with absolutely no connection to the real life slavery that was going on.

    You know, I think I learned in high school English class how to read fiction and look for the reality it was based on.

  30. So…. Your policy is only good for certain people? Cause your friends are being pretty rude. So your policy is jaded and only is in effect for people you don’t like? If you are gonna have a policy then you not have double standards, just saying

    • People here have criticised your behaviour – ie the actual words you have used and arguments you have made. You have called people names.
      If you don’t see the difference, there’s no point in discussing anything with you.

  31. No; I took lauredhel as addressing me as much as anyone, which is why I nuked the second comment.

  32. Well, to be fair, I did say she was being obtuse, which could be construed as “rude.” The fact that I’m rude shouldn’t be an excuse to ignore the content of what everyone’s been saying, however.
    anyway. -goes poof-

  33. …yeah, also not going to publish comments containing “I am so sick of people using race as an excuse for everything.”. *delete*
    Try again, Sheila, if you wish.

  34. Y r sd lttl cntfcd whr rnt y? Y thnk yr blg s s fckng pwrfl gss wht? NBD CRS! NBD CRS!
    [Abuse disemvowelled by moderator]

  35. Okay! I think I officially don’t feel bad about being “rude” to dear Sheila at this point.

  36. It is hard to imagine this not backfiring for Nestle.
    They have an image problem and they’ve decided to grab a bunch of mommy bloggers and entice them into a hotel for some programming only to then release the bots back into cyberland. Problem being these mommy bloggers then have to deal with face to face debate with the anti-Nestle campaign, something a public relations firm would charge a fortune for and approach with great caution and preparation.
    The mommy bloggers inevitably lack the skills required for this delicate operation and not only do they risk their own credibility as bloggers (so hope they enjoyed the Nestle goodies bag because it might be the last such opportunity at the corporate petting zoo), but they end up in diplomatic melt-downs, like one you linked to, who was inexplicably trying to laugh at a video-clip of starving Ethiopian babies.

    • Bluemilk, those are some excellent points. These women who are coping so badly with criticism have been taken for a ride by Nestle, really, who are letting them take all the heat for their corporation’s callous exploitation and irresponsible greed.. However, while Nestle mightn’t be having to fend off the harshest criticism right this second, every thread discussing this has Nestle’s name all over it associated with critical terms that are hardly a marketer’s dream. That can’t be doing them any good at all.

  37. Ooh, touched a raw nerve there I think Lauredhel.
    SotBO: comment directed at Sheila’s last comment.

  38. Aldous Huxley said “Most ignorances are vincible, and in the greater number of cases stupidity is what the Buddha pronounced it to be, a sin. For, consciously or subconsciously, it is with deliberation that we do not know or fail to understand – because incomprehension allows us, with a good conscience, to evade unpleasant obligations and responsibilities, because ignorance is the best excuse for going on doing what one likes, but ought not, to do”.
    Like taking goody bags and fun free trips from people who kill babies, just for example. And then defending your ignorance vigorously by insulting anyone who dares try to ripple its glass-like surface.

  39. I Wasn’t even going to waste my time in responding to this mess but as a WOMEN OF COLOR I am going to tell you something WHAT SHE SAID WAS NO WHERE NEAR RACIEST! So Please Stop trying to start something. She was being silly and talking about a cartoon!
    only someone who is really raciest would even think that BS everyone knew what she was talking about. The Funny part is you take this make it something bigger then come blog about it and your not even black and i bet half of you just know what you have read or been taught in history books about slavery so get off your high horse and shut up about it.
    people kill me with talking about something they have no clue about I find this very insulting on your part.
    Now I am sure I can Bring All MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY right on over to agree with me

  40. What’s “NBD CRS!”, mods? Enquiring minds want to know!
    This stuff is making me headdesk a bit not only for all the reasons discussed above, but it is making “mommy bloggers” (ugh, I have a problem with that term) look stupid, which I object to, since I’m addicted to parents blogs like Blue Milk and Finslippy and 11D and (wipes tear) dear departed Lookydaddy… You don’t see that lot doing shit like this.

  41. Helen, I think if it was re-emvoweled, it would be nobody cares… (it took me a minute to work it out too!)
    @Jen did you actually see what she said it in response TO??
    ETA I’m pretty sure none of us were around in the 1800s, so by definition all anyone knows about slavery as practiced in the USA is from historical sources.

  42. Helen: Yeah, I deliberately put “mommybloggers” in quotemarks because I see them as adbloggers, not in the category you’ve outlined. I believe the nestlefamily bloggers were recruited from the marketing-fest that BlogHer has turned into.

  43. The disemvowelling thing sort of defeats the purpose in a way because I just end up reading more to try to figure out what I missed. However, the lulz derived from the auditory of the person’s muffled curses (Mfl Rgnl Rnfl Grgt!) a la Yosemite Sam make it worth it.

  44. (damn, could that have had any more prepositions?)

  45. Rebekka yes I saw the whole thing we are actually really good friends thats why I felt the need to come here and address this which I am sure other will also. The funny part was We Including me was joking about it. Because someone made a smart comment on twitter about US including me again “only caring about white babies in the US” that are supporting Nestle which thats BS I have many friends that are Black at the event now so what does that mean we don’t care about our children??
    Then it went to breastfeed vs bottle fed babies and everyone got upset it was nothing raciest about the whole thing except for the one person WHO IS BLACK BY THE WAY said the “only caring about white babies in the US ” And then she was looking stupid when she found out how many other mother’s of colors was actually at the event and supporting it which she just assumed we were White I guess.. So thats when the twitter comment came that now everyone on here is talking about. All she was doing was trying to lighten the mood. Which Actually did intill this post.. Everyone shut up and went about their night… So thanks to this everyone is upset AGAIN! BUT WTG FOR THE BLOG OWNER At least you getting high traffic and your numbers and comments up tonight.. But I am done I said what I had to and i am leaving it at that.
    But it would be nice if people would stop talking about what they dont know or ask first.

    • All she was doing was trying to lighten the mood.

      We get that. People make “jokes” all the time that are not meant to be anything but a bit of social wheel-greasing but which have offensive aspects to some others. That something was meant just to make people laugh doesn’t mean that everybody who hears/reads it is in fact going to laugh, and nor does it mean that the people who are outraged by it are somehow wrong-wrongitty-wrong just because it was “just a joke”.
      Nobody here has said that Sheila’s intent was malicious. They have said that the remark was insensitive because of the narrative and subtext surrounding Oompa Loompahs when one major Nestle action that people are objecting to is how they use child labour in slavery conditions to harvest cocoa beans for their chocolate. When people have been putting up lots of informative links about babies dying due to unethical Nestle practises, then of course such insensitivity is going to cause offence.
      IMO, people’s intent isn’t all that important when they say something insensitive. Just because someone doesn’t mean to be offensive doesn’t magically make anything they’re doing somehow not-really-offensive. Everybody says something insensitive/offensive from time to time, and it’s embarrassing to be called on it, sure. But non-malicious intent is not a 100% excuse. It may be a mitigating factor, perhaps.
      Being ignorant of the facts on something that others find offensive is an opportunity to learn, it shouldn’t be treated as an excuse to pretend that that something doesn’t matter.

  46. Well , I was one of the people who also tweeted the oompa loompa hashtag, and it was just as Sheila said, an attempt to be silly — as silly as another tweeter saying that a blogger only cared about white babies in the U.S. because something the blogger wrote was completely misconstrued — and that formula feeding your baby as opposed to breastfeeding was likened to a death sentence for that child. An outrageous statement, to be sure.
    This tweeter decided to play the race card (Really? The race card in 2009? Seriously?) and that outraged many of us. The whole Nestle “scandal” has devolved into yet another fight between mothers who breastfeed and those who don’t. What’s next mothers who work versus SAHMS? It’s ridiculous.
    Someone else tweeted a picture of an Afghani mother of fraternal twins, one boy, one girl, who differed in weight tremendously. The girl died shortly after the photograph was taken. Her death seems to have been lobbed directly upon the shoulders of Nestle (or any other formula manufacturer, for that matter). But the caption of this photograph clearly states that it was the Afghani/Muslim CULTURE that dictated the mother breastfeeding the boy and not the girl, as boys are revered above all else in that society. And since the women of Afghanistan, for the most part, are not allowed to be educated, she believed those “elders” or doctors who erroneously told her she could not breastfeed both babies.
    So how is this the formula companies’ fault if it is a CULTURAL practice? Wouldn’t we have to change that culture to conform to the Western way of beliefs and practice? Wouldn’t that also be akin to colonialism, the very thing you say Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory promotes with his “imprisoning” the whole of the oompa loompa ( read: black pygmy) tribe?
    The oompa loompa hashtag was not meant to be racist in any way. I had no idea it was even considered a racist statement, so I called my good friend (and my daughter’s Godmother) who is black and my adopetd brother (also black) to ask them what I had done wrong. Their response? NOTHING. They have no clue why oompa loompa is associated with racism or slavery. They are well educated people. I even called my daughter’s God mother an oompa loompa once — she WAS wearing Hammer pants — and was not told that I was making a racist statement. These two people are also well aware of their African roots — and proud of them.
    So I must ask, hasn’t the fear, or hint, of ANYTHING even remotely resembling racist statements gone a little too far? Do not misconstrue what I have written here. I believe racism, TRUE racism, is a disease that must be eradicated. But when the things that are considered racist change from person to person and moment to moment, don’t you think it’s time to give all us “crackers” list of some sort to reference?

  47. Danny, Champion of the World was one of my favourite books as a kid!
    I can only gaze in awe at the kind of commenter who thinks Oompa Loompas can’t possibly be analogous to slaves or in any way related littorally to people of colour because ZOMG ORANGE. Right, and vampire rights in True Blood aren’t sometimes (problematically) analogous to gay rights because lots of the vampires are heterosexual.

  48. I’m a bit late here, but I wanted to address Shiela’s comment back at #18:

    There is no such place as loompa land. It’s all make believe. It’s not real and not meant to be. That is the beauty of make believe.

    On the other hand, the situation in which the Oompa Loompas are described as being is not make believe. Nor are the arguments made about how they’re much better off that way. They are the same arguments that were made condoning slavery, and encouraging people to accept those arguments by using them in a make believe setting is the ugly of make believe.

  49. The “orange” thing is kinda gobsmacking. Do people think that the Gene Wilder movie was the original Wonka story? Did anyone read the actual links, right there in my actual post, about the novel, its critiques, and the way Roald Dahl himself recanted and changed the book later in his life?
    Plus, Jen: “being silly and talking about a cartoon”? What cartoon are you talking about?
    Hint, folks: If you’re ignorant about the subject matter, read the post and the links in it. Read some racism discussions. Stop and think before shooting your mouth off and unleashing a string of misogynist abuse. Tame the knee-jerk. Realise that what you are so “passionate” about right now is not anti-racism or social justice, but your own hurt feelings. Further reading for those claiming ignorance as an excuse:
    Angry Black Woman: The Race Card
    The Unapologetic Mexican, Wite-Magik Attax
    Holly at Feministe, Sixteen Maneuvers to Avoid Really Dealing with Racism
    Derailing for Dummies
    Richie at Crimitism, ”Is there a more irritatingly whiny defense than “But that wasn’t the intention…” ?”
    Racism in Fiction Bingo card, by Mandolin at Alas:

    If you don’t understand any of these bingo-card arguments, try googling first, then ask for links if you fail to find anything useful. The card is there not as an isolated rebuttal, but to demonstrate to you that your arguments aren’t new and unique, but have been done to death.

  50. Ugh – I am so over these ridiculous adbloggers who think coating it with mumsiness and awful amounts of goop makes it a blog. I’m sick of adbloggers with no communication skills beyond the ad copy they’ve been given. And I’m sick of privileged bullshit about ‘well she’d breastfeed if it were better’ because SO MUCH of formula advertising is about how much ‘better’ it is. As if they aren’t part of that. As if they aren’t ALL about advertising.
    Like the Liz Ellis ad, this is a great list of things not to support. I’d usually feel like shit for not supporting women like this, but their blogs are nothing but nauseating ad after nauseating ad. No matter the coating.

  51. @ Shan – the death of the child is lobbed firmly, and correctly, on the shoulders of formula manufacturers because they make the formula 1. too expensive so that parents water it down to make it go further thus harming the babies, and 2. they insist on selling it to people with little or no literacy skills so even if they wanted to make up the formula correctly they can’t because they can’t read the directions. So don’t blame the culture, the fault lies fairly and squarely with the formula manufacturers. And who do you think might have told the ‘elders’ or doctors that she couldn’t feed both children? Read Lauredhel’s links.

  52. Oh, this is fun! “Jen” is talking about me. Yes, I am black and no, I didn’t feel or look stupid calling your friend MommyGoggles a racist. She is a racist. She specifically typed into Twitter that the only babies who are dying are in Ethiopia, so who cares? Her kid is 2 and healthy. Now, I never claimed to be a genius, but I’m pretty smart, and I’m a librarian. I can connect those dots pretty easily, Jen. Why can’t you? I knew there were black women attending this Nestle Family event from day one. One of them, Jennifer James, used to write a (gasp!) breastfeeding advocacy blog. She still blogs for motherfucking MOTHERING magazine. I think she ought to be ashamed of herself and I told her as much, explicitly, on Twitter.
    When another black mom who is attending the event, ASKED on Twitter what questions she should ask Nestle during the event, I told her to ask why they keep enslaving black children and killing black babies. If, as a black “women” [sic]that doesn’t bother you, Jen, and you don’t find it to be “raciest” [sic], then maybe you’re the one who’s “looking stupid.”
    .-= Elita @ Blacktating´s last blog ..5 Biggest Mistakes Working & Pumping Moms Make =-.

  53. “She specifically typed into Twitter that the only babies who are dying are in Ethiopia, so who cares? Her kid is 2 and health”
    O.O Really? Is there a link to this? Why would someone do that on the internet?

  54. I think this is the specific tweet.

    ”@mom2nji Yes. Some are posting that #nestlefamily is killing babies w/ their formula. Uh. Hello. Video posted was from Ethiopia.”

    which was followed with

    @3PsinaPod I hear ya. I love #nestlefamily & no looney toon will convince me otherwise. 😉
    New blog post: My thoughts on the “Nestle Drama” #nestlefamily http://bit.ly/26qXq0
    Wow. Spam much on child labor laws, overseas shipping and other crap. Yes. I said it. My family loves #nestlefamily You dont? Dont buy it!
    @that_danielle Those mom’s aren’t forced at gunpoint to use formula, are they? #nestlefamily
    @Blacktating I don’t see any USA deaths with #nestlefamily. Don’t twist my words. Nestle’s formula did NOT kill anyone. Period.
    @Blacktating Oh no.Really?WOW! I have a HAPPY & HEALTHY 2 yrold that was FORMULA FED w/ #nestlefamily Hmm.I better have her checked out,huh?

  55. This post is quite ironic.
    There are a lot of assumptions and I think its laid out extremely one sided. You can tell that she was being attacked (by you I am assuming but don’t know) and really had no clue there was any further issue. Its no better to publicly lay this out against her in one breath and try to defend an issue against humanity in the other.
    Its very interesting how someone can attack a company and a crime, but also finds it OK to publicly berate a person that at worst was only ignorant. Shouldn’t we lead by example and wouldnt that have been more effective?
    I want to say that I knew about the Nestle stuff prior to the trip from surfing blogs. I still feel that its up to those bloggers if they want to attend and if that company meets their needs and interests.
    I also want to say I was not aware of any other controversy surrounding Charlie and the Chocolate Family. Its unfair to assume that everyone everywhere would know every controversial and social issue related to, well, everything from all time.
    I truly believe she was originally poking fun and relating chocolate to the movie, not “oompa loompas” to african americans. I saw people go from a BF argument to slavery in like 4 seconds. I left shaking my head wondering what the point was.
    It felt like using someone for propaganda and the original intent lost its weight.
    I was on the side of the original situation and understanding of where BF advocates were coming from regarding Nestle. But seeing this post and the attacks on a blogger completely turned me off. If this is what it turned to, it has lost my support.

    • @trisha

      I saw people go from a BF argument to slavery in like 4 seconds. I left shaking my head wondering what the point was.

      What I saw happening was that a lot of people who had made arguments about child slavery were being ignored by adbloggers who tried to make it all about breastfeeding vs formula. Sheila inadvertently managed to focus everybody’s attention back onto the slavery issue.

  56. trisha: please read the entire thread before commenting. There’s a page one you may have missed. The issues of “joking”, intent, and ignorance has been thoroughly covered already (read the links also).

    I was on the side of the original situation and understanding of where BF advocates were coming from regarding Nestle. But seeing this post and the attacks on a blogger completely turned me off. If this is what it turned to, it has lost my support.

    I can see you must have been very committed to the cause.

  57. “Child Labor Laws and Other Crap” — it would be funny if … you know, it weren’t. At all.

  58. I don’t get it… I just don’t. What’s so hard to understand about “Nestle makes a profit on the backs of other people’s pain and death…” (true), and to go on to “…so perhaps we shouldn’t cheerfully/disingenuously promote them like they’re our friends” (not a difficult conclusion to reach).

  59. No-one has mentioned the latest Nestle wheeze, buying milk from the Zimbabwean farm Grace Mugabe stole….

    The Swiss multinational Nestle is buying milk from a farm seized from its white owners and now owned by the wife of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe.
    Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper said up to 1m litres of milk a year are being sold to Nestle from the farm.
    Nestle says it has no contract with the farm, but buys milk on a cash on delivery basis after other suppliers went out of business. The company says its products help meet the food needs of Zimbabwean consumers.
    Mrs Grace Mugabe is subject to US and EU sanctions, along with her husband and some other Zimbabwean officials. But since Nestle is based in Switzerland it is not bound by those sanctions.

    BBC News
    With zees sanctions, you must be kidding uz…

  60. Sorry, I just clicked through to the Boycott Nestle blog and they’ve picked it up there. Deserves wider mention though.

  61. DEM: There’s been quite a bit of talk about the Mugabe issue on the #nestlefamily hashtag, too, and PhD In Parenting talks about it.

  62. “Right of reply” bending and breaking of the comments policy is over. Read the full policy, and the entire thread (all pages), before commenting. Move the conversation forward, or go elsewhere.

  63. I’m just agonized that anyone would find a picture of a starving child something to laugh at, even if they claim it’s a rigged picture. The subject matter precludes joking with a clear conscience.
    I’ve disliked Nestle for years, because of the very carefully crafted profit campaign that went after African nations that were seen as untapped potentials for more money. I feel a bit sick that women with children of their own would not feel empathy for mothers losing their children thanks to a marketing program that chooses to profit without also spending a little of that massive cashflow on education and improving access to clean water sources in the countries they blithely market to.

  64. I’m actually quite surprised at how few people seem to know about the Neste boycott and the like. I figured people knew and didn’t care. It didn’t even occur to me that we might need to be raising more awareness about this. 😦

  65. Give me a break. That is why there is racism- because of you people.

  66. A lot of people are under the impression that this is about their character, integrity, or reputation.
    It’s not. Nobody is trying to say “You’re a bad person!” Instead, they are trying to make you aware of some serious issues with some things you are a part of. Yeah, that’s uncomfortable, but I imagine being a child slave is a lot more uncomfortable than giving up one brand of cheap chocolate and all their marketing stuff.
    You can listen, learn about the issues, acknowledge they are important, and still retain your Good Personhood. Because nobody is making this about what kind of person you are. They are trying to bring the central focus back to the harm being done – so that the harm can stop. Maybe you weren’t aware before. Now you are. Do something about it.

  67. DEM: There’s been quite a bit of talk about the Mugabe issue on the #nestlefamily hashtag, too, and PhD In Parenting talks about it.

    Thanks for the lead, Lauredhel. I don’t tweet so I’ve not been following #nestlefamily hashtag.

  68. Thanks for the lead, Lauredhel. I don’t tweet so I’ve not been following #nestlefamily hashtag.

    The link’s in the first line of my post.

  69. Anna@23: I learned about Nestle and their problematic (to say the least) marketing of formula back when I was in high school, 25-ish years ago – about the time the original boycott was lifted. I had just assumed that they weren’t doing that any more – obviously a bad assumption.
    Nestle’s mommyblogger campaign has definitely raised my awareness, even if that wasn’t their intention.

  70. Props to Tanya, she let me through. I don’t know if she will like this one any better though. I’m going to stop after this. That thread is a trainwreck of privilege and even though she’s been to Parenting PhD she didn’t believe it, so there really is no point. You can lead a person to education and enlightenment, but if you get in the way of their chocolate then look out.
    Nestle do not provide support for mothers who formula feed in third world countries. That’s why babies die there. They don’t show them how to make up a bottle, they don’t show them how to sterilise bottles, they don’t make formula tins with easy to follow pictures for people who can’t fucking read. So your baby didn’t die on formula – probably because you have an education and you can read. Pretty simple I would have thought. And Tanya, accusing that poor woman of ‘testing’ formula on her daughter, you are a gold plated [deleted] with some real privilege issues. You think she wanted her baby to die? So you don’t care that Nestle and other formula companies teach women that breastfeeding isn’t best for their babies. Of course not you just want your cheap chocolate. You are unbelievable. Any thing that upsets your little world can’t possibly be true. People boycotting Nestle must be mad because Nestle is a nice company. They make chocolate don’t you know. We’ll just ignore that they support child slavery and mislead mothers into malnutrition of their babies in the endless search for a profit. Because it doesn’t happen in the US it doesn’t matter.

  71. Nestlebloggers seem to be continuing to believe that by taking their questions straight to the company, they will get honest replies, and will clear up all these decades of silly misunderstanding in a jiffy. Under great pressure, Nestle corporate representatives have joined in on twitter, as @nestlefamily, to try to defend the brand. Here was one of the first questions asked, by @momslant:

    @nestlefamily’s reply:

    Whew! Well, that changes everything! None of these countries have experienced any kind of Nestlé formula marketing at all! None of them!
    Let’s pick just one to test the assertion. Let’s pick, say, the Philippines, where the Formula For Disaster film was filmed. The Philippines, where Nestlé called for the heads of UNICEF and WHO Philippines to be recalled for speaking out in favour of breastfeeding at a time when stronger formula marketing regulations were being considered by the Supreme Court. The Philippines, where Nestlé employs nurses as ‘Health Educators’ and sends them into the community to promote Nestogen infant formula to new mothers (more). The Philippines, where Nestlé’s direct marketing to mothers received a business award. The Philippines, where Nestle provides free Nestle-branded gifts to healthcare workers. The Philippines, where the government has been fighting a long, drawn-out battle with formula companies who want unrestricted marketing (to the point where a government lawyer was assassinated), and where Nestle have been involved in opposing key provisions of formula marketing restrictions (more here).

  72. I’m really quite taken aback by some of the vile things being said by people who are on this trek to Nestle. Calling women they disagree with cnt fcd whrs and talking about people slinging “doo doo” (what, you’ll call a woman something nasty and then use “doo doo” on twitter?), and the like? It’s very intense.
    I do not get it.

  73. Although I don’t have any moral ground to be talking from, having indulged in a bit of name calling myself although not to that degree, I’m guessing that the “doo doo” is for a general audience that she wants to think well of her (I’m also assuming all the people involved are female) and using that language against someone else that she thinks couldn’t think any less of her and whose opinion has hit a raw nerve/shaken her belief in the sanctity of her own views. I could however be completely wrong.

  74. If you (people leaving previous comments) believe that this is about choosing to breastfeed or formula feed you don’t understand the debate.
    This is about Nestle’s practices around the world which are unethical and which lead to children dying. It is about Nestle buying milk from a farm which is owned by the Zimbabwean dictator’s wife. It is about Nestle buying cocoa from mines using child and slave labor. It is about Nestle marketing a means of feeding a baby which is inadequate for the surroundings.
    Nestle rarely denies any of this. They simply brush it off and talk about their newest frozen meal or hand out some coupons. Then, often years later they admit that what they did was wrong and they smooze out of it.
    This is what it is about.

  75. I think they have now completed the entire bingo card in their defence of the initial racist remark.

  76. Unexamined privilege is certainly running rampant in the adbloggosphere (is that a word? If not, it is now). I first learned of Nestle’s horrible business practices via a source I’d like to pass along: Marion Nestle’s (no relation to the company) fantastic book, Food Politics. It does a great job of breaking down the company’s motivations that several people seem to have such a problem getting their head around. Here’s a hint, it’s money.


  1. Wired For Noise » Blog Archive » Motherhood, Nestle, and Growing Up
  2. VegeSmite? Some quick thoughts on #vegefail & #nestlefamily « Tama Leaver dot Net
  3. I Am Evil « Fusion Parenting
%d bloggers like this: