The guy is an idiot for not just getting rid of them, but I can't help feel that the reporter is fishing SUUUPER hard here. He's not going to say "ok yeah they're a bad idea I'll remove them" so she's just going to keep repeating "yes but are you SUUUUUURE you're not a racist SIR?"
Ooh, Monkey Brand Soap, and Gay Johnny Fairy Soap.

I'm in a lather. Hoo ha.

P.S. It's disappointingly easy to find lawyers who think their license confers respectability on whatever their biases happen to be.
I agree with you, #1. There's quite a bit of insensitive/stupid going on on both parts.

But jeezus. Can a single week go by when Indiana doesn't prove itself to be the idiot center of the country? We're even giving Florida a challenge by now. Good lord.
i agree with the comment at #1. "history" or not, it's not okay to have shit like that in your store (anyone else notice that the wrappers looked like they were printed off a bad inkjet printer running low on the color ink cartridge?), but this wasn't exactly a shining example of quality journalism.
It's the American way!

Also, check out the CPA winking after he says he's held to a higher standard of ethics! Ha!
I love how everyone offended, including Kelly O posting this, is white.

Ask a black person, if they think selling something from Americas racist past is offensive to them now? You can try to whitewash history, but these items, in context serve as reminders of who this country was a just couple of decades ago.
@6 - how do you know the race of anybody commenting? or do you mean the people in the news clip?

in any event, sticking a bunch of soaps with racist labels drawer and calling it history doesn't do anything to actually preserve the history of this nation, or further the dialogue on race relations, or whatever. as you indicated, context is king. something like those soaps needs to be in an exhibit in a county museum, or a community college class, for them to be an effective teaching tool. just sitting in a drawer in an old-timey general store like that IS racist.
Where's Mudede when we need him? I always appreciate his weigh-ins on the current climate of racism.

I just don't understand how people don't know better in 2010. It just doesn't make any sense.

fuck. *in a* drawer.
@7 so I guess we should start picketing the New Orleans restaurant in pioneer square for the jockey statue they have. They must be some sort of closet racists who need a expose!

It would be hard to argue the dude displaying his collection is in poor taste, but he does keep it in a drawer.

This is digging pretty deep to find a crappy yellow news story by hard leveraging some white guilt.
Were these soaps actually sold openly in our country many years ago, or created as crass novelty gag items? How do customers know to ask for this soap when it is in a drawer? Does "word get out" or do the owners size someone up and suggest a peek? Consider a bar of "jew soap" wrapped in a swastika - is that "history" to be sold from a drawer in a shop with WWII products? So many questions I have....
Okay, while I do personally adjudge racist soap as an affront to good taste, and selling or possessing racist soap might make me take a closer look at somebody I hadn't previously considered to be racially biased, if the only significant evidence of racism is racist soap, I'd give that person a pass. Tempest in a teapot. Non-story. Not worth our time.

Just like the dude down the street who has a black cat named Sambo.
I hate to tell you this, folks, but you can find these relics from our racist past in just about every antique mall in the country. I was just looking at a collection of these type of things at an antique mall in Seattle. You're also very likely to stumble upon Nazi memorabilia from WWII. I imagine people have different reasons for collecting these things, some racist and some not. I do agree that it's part of our history and I don't think it is wrong to sell them. I wish that couple had also acknowledged that these things are highly offensive. That's the part that is troubling. Not that they are selling them.
@13, I believe these are freshly-designed and -printed wrappers.
Memorabilia from a different, less PC age = OK to sell

Recently-made copies of memorabilia from a different, less PC age = Useless, racist junk that is not OK to sell

I can't really tell what kind of shop it is from this breathless, controversy-stoking crap journalism, but if it's an antique store and the soap is indeed original, I think it's fine (though obviously, the shop owner doesn't, since he keeps them in a drawer).
This is a challenging issue, because I agree with the way the store owner frames the reason the soaps are there in the first place: to represent the history of racism. In a general store of the time period that this store is depicting, those kinds of products actually would exist. How does removing them ("whitewashing" the store, so to speak) honor the struggles of African-Americans who lived in that time period? For example, how would an African-American child react to seeing these? What kinds of questions and answers would that lead to? These products are not meant to mock, but to inform.

I'd also like to point out the hypocricy of anybody who objects to this that has a box of Uncle Ben's Rice or a bottle of Aunt Jemima' pancake syrup. The same goes for Land O' Lakes products (with a Native American). Those products STILL use racial stereotypes to sell their products in 2010. I know Uncle Ben recently got promoted to C.E.O., but he's still based on a racial stereotype, the happy, helpful house slave.

Political correctness is only useful in that it reduces speech and actions that are hateful and derogatory. Not letting people show/sell examples of racism in the history of American advertising in a mall because it is not culturally "sensitive" is more harmful than the offense people may feel by seeing them in the store.
@13, most of the big-time collectors of Sambo, Mammy, pickaninny, golliwog, coon, minstrel stuff are African-Americans, specifically for the purpose of remembering and owning a past that white people like to pretend didn't exist. Oprah, Whoopi, and Bill Cosby have extensive collections. There's even a magazine:

These soaps are reproductions and thus not collectible and not pretty. But it's not entirely clear to me that this guy is the devil he's made out to be. And even if he is, we should remember that he's not so different from us, not so long ago. Ever heard of the Coon Chicken Inn in Lake City?…

You can still buy blackface "golly" merchandise in every English seaside town today, or on Ebay:…

Here's some text from a website that sells many of the same soaps; I'm not sure it's the same guy but certainly possible:

"These are authentic Black Americana reproductions of actual soaps that were available for sale in the 1910’s to 1940’s." Every soap, calendar, and candy jar has a similar "authenticity" statement like this.

"painstakingly handmade" - meaning this guy prints them himself. Designed them himself? When I look around the web for the same brand names, I do find many of them popping up on historical/memorabilia sites. Some designs he has altered a bit, while others are identical.

"How can we learn from our mistakes if you don’t know the past? Like it or not, these items are part of our great country’s history."

Still seems weird to me.
Souvenirs in some mall shop are not history. That is a weak, weak argument.
Oops, sorry, I didn't realize these were reproductions. That's totally fucked up. Retract what I said at 13
In the early 90's I stayed for a couple of weeks in Hong Kong, and I saw "Darkie" toothpaste in stores all over the city. When I went back a couple of years later though, the name was changed to "Darlie", Same illustration, though.
"Darkie Toothpaste" is still sold all over East and Southeast Asia. Recently, they've changed their name to "Darlie Toothpaste," but they've kept their "mascot." It's quite shocking to see for westerners, but, honestly, in homogeneous societies, issues of stereotype, racism, and race sensitivity are not understood at all.
One more note: The Chinese name for "Darkie/Darlie Toothpaste" is "黑人牙膏," literally, Black People Toothpaste. That name hasn't changed.
What you have found is, indeed, the same store as shown in the news story. Their main site links to the video.

I don't know what to make of this store. The news story suggests that the soaps are the only minstrel-era nostalgia items, but this actually seems to be their specialty. Their motto is "De bestest old time store der iss."

From their "about us" page:

"We do understand that these items are not for everyone, but almost everyone knows somebody who would love something on our site. Love them or hate them, they do make great conversation pieces.

Like it or not, all of the items we offer are part of our great country's history; how can we learn from the past if we don't know what it is?"

They seem strangely neutral, as if they are as happy to sell to racists nostalgic for Jim Crow times as they are to people who collect examples of our racist history.
I want some of that Gay Johnny soap.
Chinese markets at used to have "Darlie" soap, with the spokescharacter's face negatived---I think it was still being made in H.K. or Singapore.

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