Clueless White Woman

July 4, 2008

German toy maker is ultra-clueless

No, really, it\'s Obama

No, really, it's Obama

Präsidentschaftskandidaten Barack Obama has a new commemorative doll. Made in Germany. And this is what it looks like.

Feel free to exclaim, “Wait, what?!?

It’s not just the skin tone. It’s the combination of skin tone with the childish fat cheeks. Put dark skin with a baby face and “pickaninny” is what will come to mind for a lot of Americans. (Even if they don’t know what a pickaninny is, which I actually didn’t until recently, they’ll recognize it as how black people were caricatured for years and years…)

And he gave it a flag pin.

A good friend of mine is a political scientist in Germany who specializes in analyzing neo-Nazi groups and looking at bigotry trends. So I figured, hey, who better to ask about German racism than a German who studies racists? His response:

You know, first I read only the article and thought, huh, what is the fuss about? I mean, some guy is making money with selling stupid stuff, and he wasn’t able for whatever reason to get the colour right. Who cares? But then I actually had a look at the pictures and thought, well, now I can understand why someone could find this quite offensive.

I dunno, I’d say that this is primarily cluelessness, but one would have to talk to this guy to really find out. I think racism against black people is not really a hot topic amongst german bigots anyway. They’ll tell you that blacks can dance so well and that they admire that and stuff, but leave it at that, as black people are not something they are really interested in. The colonial past of this country is more or less forgotten, since Germany lost all of it’s colonies (and it never had many colonies anyway) already in WWI – and as a result there are only few black people living in Germany, unlike in France or the UK, which had kept their colonies longer.

So it’s possible that Offermann was being a snickering bigot. And it’s possible that he was being clueless and bumbling. Looking at the other dolls he’s made, I think it’s the latter. Try to guess who this one is…

Guess Who

Guess Who

Give up?

It’s Lady Diana. Blond and Caucasian and in a white dress equals Princess Di.

He’s just really bad — or not bothering — to create a resemblance. He’s dressing stuff up in symbolic clothes and calling it commemorative. (Ratsinger, for example, is identifiable only because he’s dressed in papal regalia and is labelled “Pope”.)

All the kerfuffle and intricacies shown in American media is apparently absent in Germany. What they know there is that a black man is running for President. And how do you show that? A pickaninny in a suit with a flag on his lapel. Obviously.

At least he didn’t show Obama breakdancing.



  1. Thanks for this info. I hadn’t heard about it and certainly hadn’t seen it. Who knows where this person’s head was…hopefully this was a simply lack of detail of something.

    I’ve heard from other Germans that racism against Blacks is minute and not a blatant problem. What I wonder is what the Blacks that are there collectively would say. It’s almost like asking men whether women are being treated fair in the workplace…talk about clueless! I would gather that most men would propose, with good intentions, that gender issues are quelled and relatively fair. These are the same folks that say, again with a clear conscious, that racism is dead and people need to get over it. People may not commit nearly as many overt acts of bigotry, but the structure of our society is still the racist and we are in many cases stratified by our race, class, and gender.

    Comment by matthewross35 — July 8, 2008 @ 1:22 am

  2. Germany is a country with a long racist tradition that is embedded in culture, politics, media, representation and everyday life. There is a reason for the peculiar denial that one encounters when asking germans about it: Its the idea that the §rd Reich is a singular event in hiostory for which every german must atone by being demonstratively critical about it. The exaggerated focus on the Reich and National Socialism has created a denial of both germanys colonial past (the first German concentraion camps were built in Namibia, then “German South West Africa: ). Information on the manifold manifestations of everyday racism in contemporary Germany can be found here:

    Racism in Germany: Sentence in Racist Attack Slammed for Leniency,1518,519973,00.html

    Racism On the Rise in Germany
    The European Union has published a new report on racism in Europe. Germany comes in for criticism on several fronts, including violent crimes and discrimination against foreigners in the job and housing markets,1518,502471,00.html

    Comment by rev-I-late — August 11, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

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