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'Racist' Golliwog Dolls Removed From Display After Online Backlash

'The ignorance of people is astounding. Adelaide is still stuck in the 50s.'

Organisers at the Royal Adelaide Show have removed three golliwog dolls from display following accusations of racism.

The three dolls were displayed in the Arts and Crafts section of the show and had received places and prizes in their category. Images of the dolls were shared on Facebook by Indigenous group Deadly Yarning from South Australian Aboriginal Communities.

"When you go to the 2018 Royal Adelaide Show only to see #Racist Dolls being awarded 1st 2nd and 3rd places in the Judging," the post read.

One of the dolls on display at the show. Image: Facebook

Some Facebook comments slammed the organisers for displaying the dolls, sighting the racist connotations they carry.

"The ignorance of people is astounding. Adelaide is still stuck in the 50's," Gregory Newchurch commented.

"Absolutely disgusted that they were accepted in the first instance for judging. Shame Adelaide show!" Maureen Smith said.

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Some people defended the doll's inclusion in the show's display, saying the makers' intentions have been misunderstood.

"What a weird and strange society we are becoming, I bet the people who made the dolls had no intentions of offending anyone. I also bet they won because of the quality they were made to," Facebook user Anthony Pilgrim commented.

"I don't see these as racist just another doll. If all dolls were white skinned and blue eyed that would be a bigger problem," Lorriane Gaylard wrote.

Online backlash has called the dolls 'racist'. Image: Facebook

The Royal Adelaide Show also commented defending its decision to include the dolls in the show.

"There are variety of traditional dolls entered in the handicrafts competition including Parisian dolls, Japanese dolls and African dolls, however the dolls above have been removed from the display. No offence was intended."

Show Organisers 'Surprised' By Backlash

Royal Adelaide Show General Manager Michelle Hocking told ten daily that she was surprised by the backlash, especially since the dolls have been accepted by the show for a number of years.

"We were really not expecting it," Hocking told ten daily.

"We have had gollies at the show for many, many years and they are entered in the arts and crafts competition and they are judged by independent judges for the skill of the individuals ... there is a lot of skill involved in making the dolls themselves."

Hocking said the key reason for removing the dolls from the display was the widespread online backlash that both the show and the doll's makers received. She said the show did receive a some backlash about similar dolls a number of years ago, however, nothing as "hostile" as they have seen this year.

The dolls were removed from display due to online backlash. Image: Facebook

"It is a big debate and social media got quite personal and the reason we decided to take the dolls off display was that there was a negative sentiment about them and it is an emotional debate," Hocking said.

"Some of the posts were offensive and inappropriate and quite personal -- some about the ladies that had entered the dolls who are in their late 60s and 70s.

"We accept and we acknowledge [that not everyone] enjoyed the dolls and that was not the intention of the show or of the ladies that entered the dolls."

Hocking said the team that runs the Royal Adelaide Show will review if they will accept such dolls next year once the 2018 event has concluded.

Golliwogs may not appear at the show in 2019. Image: Getty Images.
History Of Golliwogs In Australia

There are different stories about where golliwogs came from but many accept that the character was created for a 19th century storybook.

Florence Kate Upton created the character for her book called 'The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg' which was published in 1895.

The black-faced fictional character was recreated into children's toys as well as being printed on postcards, food jars, key chains and even onto chocolate biscuit packets made by Arnotts in the 1960s.

In more recent years, the character has been associated with racist values of the 19th century and colonisation and so is regarded an offensive symbol by some members of the public.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au