The internet auction site eBay have apologised after it was discovered that some of its members were doing a brisk trade selling slavery and other racist memorabilia.
Harking back to the American racism of the Deep South antebellum Jim Crow era these artifacts should be used to educate people about racism, not being sold for profit.
Race and education campaigner Paul Phoenix complained to the Internet auction site over the sale of these offensive items. Speaking to the Voice newspaper he said was “angry” when he saw an eBay page advertising a ‘jolly n****r’ moneybox for sale, a deeply racist relic from America’s racist past.
“I’m very angry and disappointed… ” Phoenix told The Voice.
Ironically this particular item was being sold by a national charity, the Iain Rennie Hospice. This makes this incident all the more objectionable given the disproportionate number of black men who suffer prostate cancer.
The Ian Bone charity provides support for people with cancer and other serious illnesses. In a statement, a spokeswoman from the Iain Rennie Hospice told The Voice they ‘sincerely apologise if any offence was caused by the listing.’
“Having researched the item and checking other eBay listings for similar items, we took the wording from the print stamped on the reverse of the moneybox. It is a vintage collectible item, but we do appreciate any concern it may raise.”
However, Phoenix rejects the claim:
“…It’s not a collector’s item; it’s a blatant disrespect to black people. Those things were designed to upset black people and they should not be allowed to get away with that. This should not be happening in this day and age,” he said.
But, the ‘jolly n****r’ moneybox is not the only item on eBay that could be considered offensive. A female version, referred to as a ‘nigress’, is also being sold through the site.
eBay’s offensive material policy says it may allow users to sell items containing the word n****r if it is part of the title of a book, song, film or piece of art.
One seller is advertising ‘Six Little N****r Boys’ slides, based on a once-popular children’s rhyme included in the repertoire of Minstrels – white performers who painted their faces black and took on the roles of stereotypical characters for their routines.
The poem also refers light-heartedly to the deaths of black children. One part of the poem reads: ‘Two little n****r boys, sitting in the sun; one got frizzled up, and then there was one.’
The is not the first time that eBay has been caught selling such offensive material. In 2003 Southern California groups complained that the company violated its own policy that discourages sellers from listing items that promote racial intolerance.
Once again cast-iron n****r items listed on eBay. The same money bank caricature of a black person, with large red lips, dark skin and rolling eyes that had been described on eBay using the n-word.
“This is what they think of us,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Inglewood, Calif.-based National Alliance for Positive Action, and a public advocacy group for racial and social justice. “This shows the absolute utter contempt many in the society still have for African-Americans even today.”
EBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said he was unaware of the alliance’s efforts to reach the company. The company removes listings using words in ways that are “abusive or offensive or degrading or in any way disparaging,” Pursglove said.
But it doesn’t strike listings that use such words to describe items. For example, some book or album titles use a racial slur in their titles, Pursglove said.
“What we’ve always tried to do is strike a balance between the sensitivities of eBay users with the desire of eBay users to buy and sell merchandise,” he said.
But in January this year eBay banned the sale of a rare board game based on the 1970s TV comedy Dad’s Army, because it contained images of a Nazi swastika symbol.
A spokesperson for eBay, which removed all but one of the ‘jolly n****r’ money banks after being contacted by The Voice, said:
“We have over 100 million items for sale on our site and are absolutely committed to keeping offensive items or items that promote racial intolerance and hatred off eBay.
“These listings clearly contravened our policy and were removed as soon as they were brought to our attention. We apologise for any offence caused.”
Filed under: Discrimination |