Maybe you saw some Borgen. Maybe you read a gushing left wing newspaper write up. You are right-on. Liberal. Lefty. Pinko. You want to try this tolerant, socialist paradise they call Denmark.
You need to know about the racism here.
In 2013, I don’t expect to have to deal with crude racial stereotyping. I won’t mention the products by name because the way social media works, this is “edge” and “buzz” and going “viral”. I’ll talk about why in a sec.
There was an energy drink in January, a tv program on the state owned broadcaster in March and there’s about five snack brands utilising blackface or “ahhh so” coolieface.
Now, I remember gollywogs. Being a child, a white child, a white child with no black friends, I thought they were ok. I was cross when a jam brand, removed the gollywog from the jar.
I will have been about seven, so this is over 20 years ago.
I had known some black people but years ago. I had a black baby doll. So I knew that “they” don’t look like that.
Rag dolls necessarily are caricatures of the human form, I reasoned with my seven year old brain, what’s the big deal?
My journey to understanding would take about a decade, a lot of reading, a lot of listening.
Crude racial caricatures are not ok for the following reasons:-
They dehumanise and ‘other’ groups who are already dehumanised by the mainstream
They tell children that certain humans are not human. If you are from those groups, good luck having a life where you have the same ambitions and dreams as the privileged kids
It is a power grab. An arm lock. A punch in the nose. “See how much power I have!”
I have had to discuss this issue with adult Danes who Do Not Get It.
None of them take pride in being racist. In fact, they think they are not racist. I have yet to debate with a Dane who says “but black people are/look like monkeys” like prominent sock vendor and friend of the blog Mads Christensen has said.
This is what they say:-
It is harmless
It is funny
It is equivalent to cartoons of Vikings
Opposing it is American and politically correct
It’s free speech
This is what they say when I offer them the stereotype my people have of their group as pig ignorant, lazy, childish wastes of skin:-
That’s not funny
That’s unfair to stereotype me
You should be more careful about how you talk about others. Rudeness is rudeness
You’re not allowed to say that
So, it’s not like they don’t get it. They just have issues applying it to others because they assume (without malice) that other groups are sub human and do not experience the full rich range of emotional space as real people like them.
I promised I’d explain why protesting doesn’t work and is counter active.
In Denmark, complaining isn’t a thing.
Get run over and killed by malfunctioning municipal equipment: too bad. Be turned away from an emergency room because the triage nurse didn’t bother to try to understand you and die: whatever. Kommune commits fraud and plans to discriminate racially: who gives a fuck? Police and courts hand your children to their abusive parent: it’s just the way it is.
Nothing happens. There’s no complaints procedure. Making a fuss is regarded with tired contempt.
Hate speech is protected speech.
So, imagine bringing up something where no one dies or is physically injured and the hate is subtle.
But marketers and pr men, they see the value in publicity. It wouldn’t occur to them to search their consciences. All they can see is that trolling gets them higher “interaction” and “engagement”.
So if you have fantasies of getting here and holding DKs hand while it transitions from an ignorant backwater into the groovy pinko paradise of your dreams: forget it.
The only way it can happen is if the Danes who get what I’m saying make the others understand. My contribution as a foreigner is not wanted or valued. Because I’m not all the way human.