Thatcher allegedly calls black tennis player ‘a golliwog’

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Is it ever acceptable to call somebody a ‘golliwog’? Even as a joke? This was a debate brought up following Carol Thatcher’s comments while relaxing in the Green Lounge immediately after appearing on BBC One’s “The One Show”. The Daily Mail reports that when talking about the recent Australian Open, Carol Thatcher referred to French tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as “you know, that froggy golliwog guy.”

Despite these remarks apparently being immediately challenged by comedienne Jo Brand and presenter Adrian Chiles, who were in the room at the time, Thatcher refused to offer an unqualified apology, “as she had nothing to say sorry for as it was a light-hearted remark, said in private, which had not been transmitted.”  Thatcher later apologised for her remarks to the BBC, but this apology was apparently rejected as not being fulsome enough. Her spokeman also confirmed that, Carol never intended any racist comments, she made a light aside about this tennis player and his similarity to the golliwog on the jam pot when she was growing up. There’s no way, obviously, that she would condone any racist comment – we would refute that entirely. It would not be in her nature to do anything like that.”

Thatcher has since been sacked from the show, while Tsonga himself has repeatedly refused to be drawn into the row.

Labour politician, Jennette Arnold explains why many people found this comment offensive: “The symbolism of the golliwog is colonialist, racist, and harks back to time when black people were dismissed as slave, servant, and figures of fun. It is an image associated with the demeaning of black people. There are no second chances when anyone in public life uses such offensive language…”

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About Kris

Associate Professor in Sports Law, Staffordshire University; British Gymnastics Senior Coach

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