Black Like Each Other

Now that I’ve discussed a group of shakers that represent stereotypes of people of African decent in different posts, I thought it might be interesting to see them all together: What intrigues me is the familial resemblance they have to each other.  Whether they’re heading off to sea in Clyde, Alberta or hunting lions in Banff or riding in the Sui Choi Derby or whomping up some pancakes, they all look sort of alike–same or similar skin tones, same round eyes, same bright red lips (often very thick), same happy smiles.  The stereotype recurs again and again.  It has a tyrannical hold on the imaginations of novelty-salt-and-pepper-shaker designers.

And the overall effect?  As I look at this photo, I can’t help but respond positively to how cheerful and jolly and upbeat this group of misrepresented and oppressed people nevertheless seem to be.  I know that these objects are distressingly racist, and yet (or and so?) they exude innocent happiness, an aura of nothing to be worried about.  That seems to be exactly the point.

Published by pernodel

Children’s literature critic and author of books for children

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