I Don't Geddit

When I was small, I read Enid Blyton's "3 Golliwogs". I used Darkie toothpaste. I watched cartoons where Chinese people were drawn with slits for eyes and coloured with pasty yellow skin tones. I read Asterix comic books where the native Africans were drawn with chocolate skin and huge red lips.

Remember these stuff from our childhood? Of course, this largely depends on
which age group you currently fall in.

I remember back then that no one kicked up a fuss about the images being "racially sensitive".

So why the hoo-ha over Tin Tin being racist? His own country Belgium is now investigating the comic for racism after complaints by Congo students.

Mbutu Mondondo Bienvenu, a political science student at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, has taken legal action claiming Hergé's controversial Tintin In The Congo "constitutes an insult for all the Congolese".

This follows the British controversy when British race watchdogs pulled the book from children's shelves and attacked the Tintin cartoons for making black Africans "look like monkeys and talk like imbeciles".


Moulinsart, Tintin's publisher, argues that the book "must be seen as a document of the time". "In his portrayal of the Belgian Congo, the young Hergé reflects the colonial attitudes of the time. He depicted the African people according to the bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period".

There is a lot of stuff in the article about how Congo used to be a Belgium colony, and that modern Belgium is very sensitive about bringing up its colonial history.

Yes, that's why it is called history.

If we could read those books and see those cartoons years ago and not have feelings of "racial sensitivity" back then, what makes us different now?

I don't geddit.