Why are we still selling the ‘Golliwog’?


It’s 2019 and yet people in Britain can still quite easily get their hands on racist toys.

A few days ago I went on a trip to the quaint market town of Stratford Upon Avon. Famed for being the birth-place of Shakespeare, there’s a lot of picturesque places to see. One thing I came across was the cute looking traditional toy shop, pictured below. If you know me, you’d know I love toys and thus I was quite looking forward to seeing what was inside. So when I had some free time, I took to explore the shop and its neighbours.

Screenshot 2019-09-08 at 20.29.24.png

I wasn’t particularly blown away by what I came across during my browsing but I was quite impressed by the craftsmanship of traditional English teddy bears (for the most part they’re more stiff than they are cuddly). This all changed when I took a look at the toys by the counter and came across a small Golliwog. I was completely taken aback and did not expect to see it. Heck, I never thought I’d ever see one in person, and was quite comforted by that. In my surprise, I told the shop worker and his potential colleague/friend that “I didn’t know people still sold these”. Their faces transformed into eerily friendly grins and a simple “Yes, they do” escaped from the worker’s lips.

I asked the man “Don’t these come from questionable origins?”. They smiled and the man responded; “Well it depends on whether you still regard them as a racial stereotype, or just an innocent toy”. I told him that I did regard them as the former and then succumbed into the awkwardness of their stifled smiles. I wanted to discuss it further and bounce around thoughts, or simply walk out like a boss; but alas I took my cue and walked to the other side of the suffocatingly small shop.


hi, thats me

I took the photo above as I turned from the corner of the till to look around the remaining section of the small shop. Eventually, I saw even more Golliwog toys and photographed them too. These are what you see at the start of the post.

So now here’s some overdue historical context. A ‘Golliwog’ (aka: Golly, gollywogg) is the toy you see at the start. [Btw I took a few days off from writing this as I was commemorating Ashura but I was still as annoyed by reading into the topic as was when I first started thinking about writing this. For this reason, I shall give you a summary of key points and articles you can for further elucidation.]

An aspiring artist ‘Florence Kate Upton’ from New York drew illustrations for childrens books as a means of raising funds for her tuition fees. Her book ‘The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls’ (1895) was written by her mother Bertha and illustrated by herself. The main characters were two Dutch dolls, Peg and Sarah Jane, and the Golliwogg. The Golliwogg was a caricature, described in the story as “a horrid sight, the blackest gnome.” It had red trousers, a red bowtie, a white shirt and blue jacket. In essence it was a caricature of an American caricature, the American black faced minstrels. Upton used to play with a minstrel doll when she was young. Interestingly and unsurprisingly, Upton’s family did not favour the “negro minstrel doll”. For instance when they played with it in the garden they would use the rag-doll to knock over items as they all thought it was ugly. Fast forward a bit and the Golliwogg became a popular character across England and Europe. Upton did not copyright the character and so it featured widely in storybooks and other merchandises. In England it was commonly found on the side of jam jars and many parents made the doll for their children. For some time in the 1960s there was a ban on Golliwoggs due to an increase in racial tension in Britain. Now the character is seen by many as a symbol of nostalgia. I find this very strange.


American black faced minstrel

I felt kinda sick inside after seeing those toys. I know, sounds dramatic but it’s not a feeling you can control. Even browsing past the photo in my phone gallery feels weird, and so I had to delay writing this for a day. If you want to read more about the history of the Golliwogg for yourself then you can click here.  I’m not sure what it is specifially that makes me so uncomfortable. I’m not black (if you didn’t already know), but I don’t think that matters. Part of me sees this toy as a symbol of power, or the lack thereof. The ability that a mere ‘artist’ has to turn a beautiful and complex people into a tacky object of ridicule, an insignificant plaything; it does astound me. I think we forget the power that people and images, or so called ‘art’ can wield. Today this is translated into more modernised mediums…


Yes, this is real

I’m getting off topic now but I’m sure I’ve talked about something along these lines before.

What do you think about the Golliwog? Are they a symbol of racism or is it just an innocent toy? Have you heard of them before or ever seen them in person? I’d love to know. To my disappointment, the majority of the British public do not regard the character as a racist toy. You can read more about that here. 

I thought I should add the toy shop and stall that I did actually enjoy perusing…


Creepy old dolls I found in the market. https://www.instagram.com/nabblo/

If you come across a toy that makes you feel uncomfortable, good luck 世界。

此致敬礼,欣妍 – From Nabeela.

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P.s. I just iht my 5 year blogging anniversary!🎉Thanks for reading💜

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Time flies, but look its been 5 years! Thank you if you’ve been around for a while and welcome if you’re new💜





I finished my Oxford degree🎉

I sat my last Oxford Finals exam 2 weeks ago and officially ended my degree🎉 Above is the video I edited to show you my trashing. Trashing is an Oxford tradition whereby a person’s friends throw things at them after they’ve finished their last exam. It’s oddly liberating. Usually, the items they throw consists of confetti, shaving foam and coloured powder. However I saw a video of someone I know being taped to a tree stump whilst their friends threw eggs at him…they’re not all like that though. After being covered in all that stuff, the people who have been trashed tend to jump into the River Cherwell to wash off a bit. So if you want to see me go through all of the above then press the video link above.

After finishing Finals I got busy again quite fast😂I organised timings to film with various students for a new video project I’m starting. I won’t say too much yet but it’s pretty much an independent access initiative that I aim to launch in August or September. So stay tuned! At the same time I was meeting friends too which was sweet, and attended Balliol college ball!~

I returned home (London) a few days ago! My brain is slowly becoming less…frazzled. I spent the day sorting out my wardrobe and unpacking properly. I can’t think properly when my rooms messy and I think I needed to declutter to help me relax, lol. It’s quite satisfying sorting things out. I actually kinda like cleaning😂 And one of the things I was most looking forward to for the past 4 years of this degree was doing the final packing up!😂 I knew I could finally donate some of my last items for good. I tend to donate things at the end of each term, but this time I could get rid of things I definitely wouldn’t need again because I wouldn’t be moving back into to student accommodation, you know? The last person I spoke to before I left Oxford was a lady I interviewed for my documentary on homelessness ‘Pray it Doesn’t Rain’. It was quite meaningful to see her again and I ended up giving her my bedding and some other items💜

Anyhow that’s it from me for now. I should be graduating soon so maybe I’ll touch base again then. Take care x

If you get trashed, good luck 世界。

此致敬礼,欣妍 – From Nabeela.

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Late night story rambling. I wrote this in Chinese and then read it out in English lol.
















Good luck world.


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Have some music🎉


Photo on 04-05-2019 at 00.46 #4

Me with a dried red carnation flower (also my first self photo on this blog of 5yrs😲)

So I was meaning to write a few ‘heavier’ posts recently but I’m tired and kinda busy revising. I’ll get back to them soon though so dw~

I’ve wanted to create blog posts compiling playlists of my fave songs for ages now because I thought I could show you some new interesting sounds! But I kept having this 矛盾 about music being ‘haram’. We can talk about this another time because today is not heavy or deep🙅‍♀️ The short version though is that music motivates me a lot so *cough* here we are.

Today I wanted to show you some of the music I’ve been listening to very recently, as opposed to my current absolute faves (some of them haven’t had time to grown on me yet)! These are all from my current revision playlist although the tempos are quite varied. I think I can listen to anything if I’m focused, but before I get there some can be distracting😅😂

  1. ‘Thama – Sing It’ This one’s really chill and I like it
  2. ‘Jay Park – Ben Baller’ My fave part is 1:07🤷‍♀️
  3. ‘Beyoncé – Formation’ That mint car is so pretty wow
  4. ‘Ilira – Diablo’ An artist I’m still discovering
  5. ‘Will Smith – Arabian Nights’ The instruments👌🏽
  6. ‘Katie – Love Kills’ Her whole album ❤

I’ll leave you will six for now✨

I have my Oxford Finals (the exams at the end of an Oxford degree) next week! It feels like I’m about to start my Finals, but I’m actually just resuming exams. My coursemates and I had our oral/listening/interpreting exam a week before this term started, which was technically our first exam (although its counted as 1.5 exams, only worth 5.5% of my degree, and not even put on the exam timetable🙄). Next week we’ll be wearing the pink carnation flower to signify our ‘middle exams’ (theres an Oxford tradition for students to wear a white carnation flower for their first public examinations, pink for all the ones in the middle, and red for the final exam). It’s weird because there isn’t usually an 8 week gap in between wearing your white and pink carnations. Anyhow, I’m done in about 2 weeks🎉

We just had our final revision class and my friend was telling me about how they’re stressed and feel underprepared. I feel the same but I’ve accepted it. I’m predicting what my degree outcome may be and I don’t think I’ll be fully satisfied with it, but for now there’s no point externalising this and forcing myself to be miserable at times when I’m not. I just want to finish. I guess I’ll be back for more content on here and on my YT Channel once I’m done✌️

I made this to take a break from revising Chinese characters. The method was similar to this lil throwback. Also if you wanted to explore some more new music, I made some posts a few years back as introductions to different genres of modern Chinese music. Click the following links if you want to learn more:

  1. Chinese Pop, ‘C-Pop’
  2. Chinese Rap and Rock
  3. Chinese chill music, ‘ballads
  4. Bonus 

If you have Finals and need a new music playlist, good luck 世界。

此致敬礼,欣妍 – From Xinyan.


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Random Easter Vac things


Yo! Sup?~

I came to the library a little while ago (I have my first two real exams next week…a week before terms actually starts but I’m not salty, ofc not) and had a sudden burst of energy lol. I have no one to share it with which reminded me that I haven’t updated my blog in a while.

I posted a new video today, here’s a link:

This and my last video (capturing my 22nd birthday celebrations) were not initially intended to be posted online. I wanted to film random clips for myself as mini ‘home videos’ but then I felt like they might be cute to share online. Tbh, I’ve had so many photos/videos get deleted in the past (most likely my prized possessions) that posting these online seems like the best form of Cloud storage :p

The other day my friend was commending me on how I’ve been ‘putting in work’ on my blog from day 1. They spoke about how I’d been compiling blogposts by conducting research, talking about topics that aren’t widely spoken about, and practising extended writing without a proper incentive. It was sweet. However it reminded me of something I had thought of a while back. Some of my recent few (very few actually) posts have mainly been reshares of videos from my new YouTube channel and not the type of content based posts I used to write. I felt a bit guilty about it, but honestly I’ve been too busy to write blogposts I’d be satisfied with. I have been putting quite some effort into YouTube however. I realised I really enjoy the video stuff. Infact it only hit me kind of recently.

Photos and videos are one of my biggest hobbies. I like them a lot. Taking them, being in them, editing them etc. One of my old methods of procrastination was to look through old photos/videos in my laptop (my old laptop that has since died, rip). I would sometimes come across old videos I made as a child, but I only recently reflected on this and realised…hold up…I’ve been making videos for since I was little…I must enjoy this!😂🤦🏽‍♂️

My YouTube channel was initially created for the main purpose of advertising my University course, Chinese Studies with Korean. I began this when I was taking part in Oxvlog but never got to finish my goal. Once I had finished most of the course related content I had set out to produce on my channel, I began making videos more for my own fun. I’m not too bothered with the amount of views those videos get so long as I still have fun making them. Sounds very 2009 I know 🤷‍♀️😂. I think my channel has a few different genre of videos; Informational/course related, Awareness/activism, Reaction videos, Conceptual videos for stress relief, Random things for fun. If you have seen any of my videos, what is your fave type?

I feel like I could write a book right now but I gotta get back to work. Btw, no one dare to ask me ‘what Masters’ I’ll be doing after I finish this degree. I hate education now and I’m done :)) Good night xx

If you post a random video online,

good luck 世界,

此致敬礼欣妍 – From Xinyan.

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今天我老师遇见我在学院里。她问我这周为什么没来上课。我只能说出四个字。“我身病了”. 我说了身病可是我的意思是’神病’,但我遗憾她没感到我的意思。

如果我没来上课请你别建议我去认真地学习。我看起来这么笨嘛。谢谢, 我也想努力学习。请你别想我对我成绩不认真。请你别假定我是那么随便的学生。我没来上课因为我没法上。这周我没法起床。我是要上课,要起床但结果是一整下午都失去了。







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