Darkie Toothpaste

This Asian toothpaste (now called “Darlie”) has been brought up on the China blog scene before, but I’m revisiting it (prompted by Matt in Xi’an) because I recently found a picture of the old toothpaste clearly showing the old name and the new name, as well as the old logo and the new logo.

Darkie Toothpaste Over the Years

Yikes. That really is offensive.

From Toothpaste World:

Hong Kong’s Hazel & Hawley Chemical Co. would probably still be hawking Darkie toothpaste had the company not been acquired by Colgate. The Darkie brand’s Al Jolson-inspired logo, a grinning caricature in blackface and a top hat, was as offensive as its name. Colgate bought the company in 1985, and then ditched the logo and changed the product’s name to Darlie after US civil rights groups protested. However, the Cantonese name – Haak Yahn Nga Gou [黑人牙膏] (Black Man Toothpaste) – remains.

Wow, I never imagined I’d be cool enough to have reason to quote “Toothpaste World” on my own website.

125 Comments to “Darkie Toothpaste

  1. Kaili says:

    Ah, he’s a dentist. Now I get the somewhat strange topic of his blog… but hey, toothpaste is probably more interesting than stamps.

    I wonder what is site meter reads…

  2. Da Xiangchang says:

    A common perception among the Chinese is that black people have the nicest, whitest teeth, hence the toothpaste. This toothpaste goes waayyyy back. I think my grandparents have even heard of it. But is Darkie Toothpaste any worse than Aunt Jemima products in America? Of course, the name “Darkie” is a lot more offensive, but Aunt Jemima taps into all the slavery days where some house slave cooks for the white family. So I don’t know. Both seem equally offensive to me.

    And most Chinese are DEFINITELY racist against black people. I can’t say this is malicious racism like, say, among rednecks in America, but it’s definitely there, and I don’t think the Chinese have this for anyone else in the world EXCEPT blacks. And I don’t think this is only the Chinese but all East Asians. Part of it is that blacks look so different physically from the Chinese. Of course, Caucasians look different from the Chinese too, but since Western pop culture influences so much, the Chinese let that slide.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Da, that’s your own racist feeling, you don’t speak for me.

  4. They’ve got Darkie toothpaste down here in Viet Nam as well. Like a lot of things, I put it down to intercultural cluelessness rather than maliciousness.

    BTW: 10 years ago (or so the long time expats tell me) ANY caucasian was a rarity – even in HCMC itself. The popular reaction: to stare at this foreigner. Now the locals are blase about it, and generally you don’t get a second look.

  5. JR says:

    “Like a lot of things, I put it down to intercultural cluelessness rather than maliciousness.”

    I think that sums it up pretty well.

  6. wulong says:

    DXC, The most influential form of music right now is rap and R&B. Who are the most prominent artists in these fields? Black people.

  7. Da Xiangchang says:

    Wulong,

    Yeah . . . SO?! Pointing out the vast majority of Chinese people are racist against blacks doesn’t make me racist, you know.

    Down and Out,

    Interesting point. I just went to Thailand with a friend who’s Casper-white. We’ll go to these little villages and towns, and NOBODY looked at him. This was highly interesting since in China, if you’re not Asian-looking, you’ll get stared at and hello’d. (I still remember fondly John in Jingdezhen. Haha!) But in Thailand, a Caucasian might as well be in LA. Then again, Thailand is the MOST touristy place I’ve ever been to!

  8. I think DXC has a valid point. Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben both bring to mind completely unacceptable antebellum stereotypes. They have modernized Aunt Jemima’s appearance, but not the message.

    Those of you trying to brush off Chinese racism against blacks just because black music is popular are making the same flawed argument so many white people in the States do. I guess most of you are too young to remember the riots at Nanjing University in the 1980s when Chinese mobbed the dormitories of African students because some of them had the gall to date Chinese women. As far as I know, Chinese never torched the dorms of Europeans or Americans.

    The fact that people in China listen to hip-hop and also have their non-threatening cheesy imitation gangsta boy bands like LA Boyz or whoever doesn’t prove a thing.

  9. Singaporean says:

    Prince Roy, Funny but the same racist phenomenon happened all across formal communist countries. I was travelling from Rome to Vienna to Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and Russia. The more I went towards Russia, the more racist and “uncivilized” it became. Raj

  10. Kaili says:

    Some of you have probably seen this site:

    http://taiping.blogspot.com “The Black China Hand” — he often writes about his experiences of racism in China.

    Actually, I’m doing some research on this next year – about how living in New Zealand affects the attitudes Chinese students have towards different ethnic groups (incl shaoshu minzu, and different foreign groups). I’ll interview (actually I’ll use Chinese interviewers) students who have been in NZ for 3 weeks, then ones who have been here for 2-3 years and see if their interactions with other nationalities on campus has had any effect on their perceptions a) of these foreign groups and b) of their own shaoshu minzu groups.

    There’s some old research from a university in Taiyuan that shows that Chinese feel closer culturally to Americans (which is not an ethnic group, but the researcher was an American so he included it) than they do to Tibetans. Tibetans and black Africans were considered barbarian and primitive and possibly violent. Americans and Uighers were seen as friendly and clean and beautiful. It’s really fascinating. If anyone wants a copy (of the old one, I haven’t started mine yet) email me and I’ll send it to you. (k.dombroski@massey.ac.nz)

  11. wulong says:

    Whoa,

    My comment was blown out of proportion. I was responding to DXC’s comment that caucasians were more accepted because the influence of western pop culture:

    “Of course, Caucasians look different from the Chinese too, but since Western pop culture influences so much, the Chinese let that slide.”

    I said that black music is the most influential form of pop culture right now to invalidate this point. I am NOT saying that because black music is so influential, blacks are no longer discriminated against.

    I happen to agree with DXC and Prince Roy. The Chinese people I have met are really, pretty racist, but I disagree that it is only towards black people, as my Japanese friends would attest (long story…).

  12. bingfeng says:

    i wonder what is the definition of racism. if we are talking about discriminating someboday because of his/her color, i don’t think chinese people are racist at all, personally, so-called chinese racism just reflects how chinese people view the world, in ancient times, china view the world as a cycle with the most civilized in teh center and less civilized in outside cycle, but NONE is in ANOTHER world, the criteria was the level of civilization.

    today chinese might change that criteria to the level of material wealth, so who are the poorest, chinese will look down on them, it’s nothing to do with skin color, although people will say it is because of skin color.

    no doubt this is not better than western racism, but i see the good side of it – you are discriminated today doesn’t necessarily mean you will be discriminated forever.

  13. bingfeng says:

    it’s interesting that john keep all these toothpaste packs, that reminds me in my childhood we the kids will keep these little things to recycle and change for some money and use the money buy little things like 小人书, guns and candy

  14. Anonymous says:

    There’s plenty of racism to go around. Is anything really served by one group of people pointing out to a second group of people how racist they are about a third group of people? Except, perhaps, avoiding having to look very closely at one’s own racism? Anyway, nobody’s racism ever changed because of public criticism and shaming. At best, it just sends the racism underground. People’s attitudes do change by more rational and loving ways.

  15. John says:

    bingfeng,

    Hehe… Actually, I don’t keep my old toothpaste boxes. I found that image online at toothpasteworld.com. I don’t think I could ever buy “Darlie” toothpaste, knowing what I know…

  16. bingfeng says:

    among the little things shanghai kids collect for recycling in 1980s, there are turtle shells, toothpaste packs, beverage bottles, anything contains iron, i still remember the first “big fortune” i made from “stealing” and selling an iron pot which belonged to a restaurant in front of my home, the iron pot was huge and seemed no longer in use for the restaurant, it was surprising the manager of the recycling store didn’t ask me and my best play pal where we got it, at last we got about 3 or 4 yuan, which was a big fortune to kids when a chinese ice-cream costs 0.08 yuan and a tie-si pistol costs about 0.5 yuan. i miss that iron pot!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Is anything really served by one group of people pointing out to a second group of people how racist they are about a third group of people?

    Seems like an odd comment to me. Would you say nothing is served by people pointing out, say, the racism in Hitler’s Germany against a “third group?” Anyway, I’ve had plenty of Chinese try to tell my how racist American history has been (which it has). If anything, pointing out the racism of another culture provokes the exact kind of self-reflection/criticism you described. Oftentimes, getting an outside perspective on your culture (“criticism”) gives people a much-needed dose of reality. I think a lot of Chinese are racist by Western standards, but as others have said, it isn’t really out of malice — more out of ignorance or lack of contact with non-Chinese.

    Do I win some sort of prize by referring to Hitler? ;)

  18. 2hawks says:

    I’m sorry but that is actually pretty funny. Darkie toothpaste. Heh. Funny how things change to the point where it is ok to have a film called “White Chicks” or “White men can’t jump” (both titles which I find extremely funny anyway). Lets try films called “Black Chicks” or “Black men do time”. Wonder how they would go over?

  19. Tim H says:

    Prince,

    You remember when the US bombed the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia. Didn’t you hear stories about the rioting?

    I am not 100% sure, but I think that thing in Nanjing started very small and erupted very fast. No crosses or hoods were prepared.

  20. wayne says:

    Just the other day, I was teaching my pre-teens how to do similes (as thin as a pencil, as smart as a computer) and we got to the word ‘black.’ They all lit up. Everyone wanted to say as black as a black person but I wouldn’t tell them how to say 黑人 in English. I felt tempted to say as black as a 本省人, but that probably wouldn’t have gone over too well. In the end, after arguing with them for several minutes about how it’s wrong to say that, I acquiesced and had them say ‘as black as Michael Jordan’

  21. JFS says:

    I am going to put in my two cents. You guys are putting out a lot of “PC” nonsence for the last few topics. A few topics back John had written that he used the term “Indian”, but that was because his company insisted on using that term. I presume he would have preferred the term “Native American”. He also mentioned how the “Indians” were in tune with the earth, etc.

    I know a few, not many, but a few “Native American”. One of the owners of the company I work for is an “American Indian”. He has a PhD in Civil Engineering, he has achieved success in his professional life, in his business life, and in his social life. He is also a decent human being. When I was a young boy, my father had several Philipinos, Mexicans, and Indians working on our ranch in Arizona. One of those I recall fondly. He was an Apache, I forget now his tribe, but he was a good worker and a funny man to be around. He was quite often drunk, but was pleasant man to be around. I do not think it is necessary to attach some mystical, magical bonding between “Native Americans” and “Mother Earth” to find a reason to enjoy their company, or find pleasure to be their associates, or to be their friends. Not only that, but the concept is rather fraudulent and is really only a variant of that 16th and 17th century European conceit of the “Noble Savage”. Let me relate an anecdote to illustrate my thoughts. One of my great grandfathers was a teamster from about 1850 to 1870. He moved goods from Saint Joe, Missouri to Sacrament, California (he did this for six months of the year, the remaining winter months he spent on his ranch in Arizona). He had many a tale to tell and told them well. One of them, and this before environmentalism become popular, was that you could follow the “Plains Indians” where ever they went, because they left a trail of garbage along their travels. This is not surprising, “Native Americans”, as all human beings, require material things to sustain their existence on this earth and in this life. And, as all people till now, use a technology that leaves a lot of waste, and that wast needs to be discarded. And since the “Plains Indians” were a migratory people, they did as most migratory people do (or so it appears from what meager knowledge I have on this subject); discard their refuse in situ, in place. This is not a special understanding of “Mother Earth” nor a supernatural kinship with the environment. “Native Americans”, as all human beings, interact with their environment using some level of technology. If you have an European ancestry, they at one time live a life similar to the “Native Americans”.

    Now let us look at “Darky” toothpaste and “Aunt Jemima” food products. “Clueless” you say, because the Chinese or Vietnamese do not respond to the same way to “respectable” and “disrespectable” phrasing as we do. When I was a young boy, my father left Arizona and went to San Francisco, California. There, not being a high school graduate and just a “cowboy”, he had to find any type of work. He found work as a mechanic for the Pullman company. The Pullman company had a lot of employees, most of them “African Americans”. The “African Americans” were the porters, etc. that worked on the Pullman cars, their were two mechanics, both “White”. A year later, my father was elected President of the local union. This was rather unexpected, as the union leadership was not restricted by race, but open to the membership. We lived in Oakland, California at that time. Once a month we went to West Oakland, to a “African American’s” home to have a monthly union meeting. My father took my younger brother and myself with him. We sat quietly and when the meeting was over, then all gathered at the dinner table and ate. Those “Black” women put on a feast that was unbelievable. It was good, perhaps not very healthy as we come to understand later, but delicious. “Aunt Jemima” is just a brand name, but it was developed to bring to mind that wonderful cooking by those “black women” who were once slaves. It is not demeaning to be a slave, what is demeaning is slavery. It is slavery, it is segration, it is zenophobia that is objectionable, not what people achieved or were allowed to achieve that is objectionable.

    “Political Correctness”, I believe, is Modern Western Liberalism’s opiate to the Masses. We all run around spouting off the right terminology, thinking we have done our deed for mankind, I am sorry, for personskind. But we haven’t educated anyone, we haven’t trained anyone, we haven’t given anyone a dollar, all we have done is made ourselves feel good at someone else’s expense. I recall one time, an old man in his nineties was explaining his position regarding “African Americans”, he used the word “Darky” and that term branded him as a racist. Strange, he was not a racist at all, but when he was a young man that was the proper term; later it would be “colored”, then “negro”, then “black: and now “African American”. He was branded a racist because he failed to keep up with the latest trend in proper terminology; but then we like to brand people, it makes us feel good, I suppose.

    There are no doubt Chinese who hate “white people” just because they are “white”, and there are Chinese who hate Japanese just because they are Japanese, but not all Chinese hate so. As for “Blacks”, most Chinese have never met one, and so it would be the strangeness of being “Black” that would be first encountered. Strangeness is always a problem. At one time I associated with a number of Mexicans. Most of these Mexicans were of “Indian” ancestry. The mixture gave them a look that would be strange to most Americans, as a matter of fact, I would say most would think they looked like thugs. Some of them were thugs, but most were decent human beings.

    I am starting to rant on and on, I apologize for that. I am not big on “PC”ness. The intent I understand, but as my grandmother used to say, that road to Hell is paved with all sorts of good intentions.

  22. Anonymous says:

    “Seems like an odd comment to me.”

    I’m just saying that one wins over more people to a point of view through a relationship based on friendship and love, than through ridicule and criticism.

    (What was done to stop the Nazi’s was a last resort of physical force. It was by no means a model of interpersonal or international relations.)

    There is a lot more racism in the US than most white Americans are aware of. There seems to be a lot of fascination with OTHER PEOPLE’S racism.

    Like a good Chinese friend said to me once when talking about other matters: “First examine oneself.” (先看自己)

  23. Anonymous says:

    “There is a lot more racism in the US than most white Americans are aware of. There seems to be a lot of fascination with OTHER PEOPLE’S racism.”

    This falls into the “the rest of the world is free to criticize the US to death, but the US is never allowed to criticize anyone else” category. A pretty common attitude, esp. in Europe. Also, I also find it quite funny when people from racially homogenous countries like China or Sweden point out the “rampant” racism in a multi-racial society like the US. (Esp. when the critics themselves are utterly racist). It reminds me of people from sparsely populated countries (like the US) criticizing China without understanding the effects of living with overpopulation.

    In any case, you can always turn the tables on your critics by saying “examine yourself, not me,” which I think the CCP does on a daily basis. It doesn’t negate the fact that a lot of Chinese are racist and making people aware of it only helps.

  24. John says:

    JFS,

    I understand your viewpoint on PCness, but I think you’re forgetting a few practical points.

    1. People looove to whine and moan. Being PC saves you the headaches. (I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a few commenters of this very blog who like to nitpick! ::gasp::)
    2. American “Indians” are not from India. Why should Chinese kindergartneners learn the misnomer?
    3. The “one with the Earth” thing was mentioned mainly to offset the other stuff (which I didn’t go into detail about) so that the Indians weren’t portrayed too negatively. Again, this is for kindergartneners, not college kids.
    4. “Darkie” is still a racial slur, no matter how many good-meaning people are behind the times.
  25. Anonymous says:

    “This falls into the “the rest of the world is free to criticize the US to death, but the US is never allowed to criticize anyone else” category. “

    Maybe I didn’t make it clear, but I am a white American myself. Anyway, what I said about it not being helpful to publically criticize and shame people applies to everyone. I completely agree with you that it isn’t helpful when those Europeans and Chinese people put on airs and criticize the US.

  26. Jessica says:

    2hawks,

    The name “Darkie” is referring to toothpaste in this context, not creative forms of expression like films that can be broken down and analyzed. What’s so funny about a racial slur applied to toothpaste?

    How do you think film titles like “Nappily Ever After,”Soul Plane,” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” will go over?

  27. Jesu says:

    I don’t understand how Darkie is being racist, it is a complimentary to black people to say they have sparkling clean teeth.

  28. Da Xiangchang says:

    Jesu,

    Well, I don’t know if “Darkie” is racist-RACIST, but it’s definitely offensive. Imagine, say, a black hair dye that shows a really stereotypical Asian person–SUPER-slanty eyes, buck-toothed, thick glasses, etc.–and it’s called “Yellowie” or “Chinky,” and you get the idea. It’s always easy to say, “Ahhh, that ain’t a big deal,” if your group’s not the one being made fun of.

  29. JFS says:

    John, I was not directing my comments at you; but was really only using your specific comments to make some general comments of my own. No personal offense was intended.

    That have been many a good comment made. But I am not quite convinced that “Darky” is a racial slur. I haven’t heard it said in quite some time and I would find it difficult to imagine anyone using it now as a racial slur, especially since there are more powerful perjoratives available. “Darkie” or “Darky” would be in the same classification as “Colored”, “Negro”, or “Black”, descriptors based on colouring. I will grant that a young person using the term today would probably be using it in a perjorative fashion, that is, using it in America. I suspect this is an American sensibility rather than an international one. I have heard some commercials here in China, if played in the United States would doubtless be considered insensitive. If I recall correctly, I believe there was a TV station in Seattle that played a commerical with a Chinese theme that received a lot of criticism for its overtly racism, even though the commercial originated in Hong Kong. Chinese sensibilities are not the same as American sensibilities. I am wondering if we are not attempting to demand that the Chinese in China have the same sensibilities as ourselves. The specifics are rather moot, the name has already been changed and I suspect the accompanying logo will be changed in the future also. Just because our culture finds something offensive does not mean that another culture will also find that same thing as offensive or even in the same way.

  30. JFS,

    I can assure you that ‘darkie’ is a racial slur, is definitely perceived as such by people of color, and always has been.

    My first encounter with Darkie toothpaste occured in 1987 when I went to Hong Kong on leave. I was in the army at the time. I saw the product in a Watson’s drug store and could not believe my eyes. Not just the name, but that incredibly offensive picture of the wide-eyed grinning black guy in top hat. I took a tube back to the US and showed it to the black guys in my unit. They were flabbergasted to say the least.

    I find the new sanitized version just as offensive, actually; it’s just as bad as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s. I find it hard to comprehend how US corporations would use these kinds of trademarks in this day and age.

  31. Anonymous says:

    JFS,

    Go into Compton or Harlem and start calling people “Darkie.” I think you’ll find out pretty quick if it is a racial slur.

  32. Raj says:

    The first time I travelled to Taiwan, I heard they said “neegga neegga” a lot, and I asked my Chinese friend why they used the n word so often, my friend told me neegga neegga is a slang in Taiwanese meaning “this is.”

  33. Karl says:

    I was explaining to my (Taiwanese) wife some years ago why [黑人牙膏] was offensive. I said look, what if I develop a new kind of tanning lotion and I want to sell it in the U.S. under the name [黃仁防曬油], how would you feel about that? She thought about it for a second and agreed that that would be pretty offensive. Just as well, because Yellow Man Suntan Lotion doesn’t sound all that great anyway.

  34. Ryan says:

    Has anyone noticed the lack of tanning salons and the low supplies of skin bleach in Shanghai?

  35. Ryan says:

    Just a funny little msn chat.

    上海-香港-上海 says: May I ask you a personal question? 快乐的小兔子 says: ok 上海-香港-上海 says: What brand of toothpaste do you use? 上海-香港-上海 says:

    快乐的小兔子 says: Black people Negroes

  36. Ryan says:

    上海-香港-上海 says: May I ask you a personal question? 快乐的小兔子 says: ok 上海-香港-上海 says: What brand of toothpaste do you use? 上海-香港-上海 says:

    快乐的小兔子 says: Black people Negroes 上海-香港-上海 says: huh? 上海-香港-上海 says: what is that 上海-香港-上海 says: You put people on your teeth 上海-香港-上海 says: ? 快乐的小兔子 says: black people toothoaste 上海-香港-上海 says: There is toothpaste made for black people? 快乐的小兔子 says: it is brand 上海-香港-上海 says: Do black people use it? 快乐的小兔子 says: no 快乐的小兔子 says: just brand 上海-香港-上海 says: Why is it called black people 上海-香港-上海 says: negroes 上海-香港-上海 says: ?

  37. JFS says:

    Harlem I have been to, Compton I haven’t the slightest idea where that is. I will accept that “Darkie” is a racial slur, since everyone says it is, but Prince Roy is in error, it was not always so. about three or four generations ago it was the polite designator for African Americans, at least in the Western States that I was acquainted with and it was considered polite by both sides of the racial divide. There is nothing intrinsic in a collection of syllables that makes it a racial slur, it only becomes a racial slur by convention. I do not know the history of this brand name into China, but I suspect it was sufficiently long ago that the present sense of the term was not associated with this term. The sense of the word would go into the adopted language at that time. Each language has a different set of dynamics. American English has a very turbulent dynamics associated with race, due to the institution of slavery and segration and due to the increasingly multi-racial composition of the population. Hence, in America the sense of terms change rather quickly, but China has a different set of dynamics and the change of the sense of a term changes less dramatically. That is why we are talking about sensibilities of people. Consequently what is percieved as a racial slur in America may not be so perceived elsewhere. There is nothing new about this, it is well recorded how the colonial aspects of language are much more conservative than the original base.

    When it comes to racial slurs, America is complex. Where I came from we used the term “boy” to mean any young man. The context of its use was not racial at all, as a matter of fact it was use was directed towards young white men, as there were not many, none as a matter of fact, African Americans in our community. I recall one time I was in a store in Eastern Washington State, the clerk I was talking to was Black, and he referenced another black clerk, a young man. I look in the direction he was pointing and said, you mean that “boy” over there. After I had spoken, he paused and just looked at me. I thought something was amiss and my mind started reviewing the circumstances of our conversation. I had seen a couple of films at the cinema where “boy” was used as a perjorative toward African Americans. After a short pause, he said, “That young man over there.” I repied by thanking him. I also took note to drop “boy” from my vocabulary except in reference to very young males and even then become prudent in its use. You may thin this fiction on my part, but I was not raised in an environment where it was used as a racial slur and there would have been no reason for my to understand it in those terms.

    I think that needs to be emphasized, there is nothing intrinsic within a set of phonemes that make it benign or malevolent. And just because the word is an English word does not mean that the current sense of the term will be understood everywhere that word may be in use. Japan is good example of the use of English words not used in the same fashion as in America.

  38. Ryan says:

    Darkie was the term used by the British “dictatorship” in Indian when they reffered to their subjects. Watch Gandhi!

  39. Gin says:

    I agree with JFS on the dynamics of language.

    We keep changing terminologies in search of a correct expression. From Negroes to Colored to Black to African Americans, each new term was initiated by political activists and/or blacks themselves, wasn’t it? The terms were started to represent a fresh perspective, a more correct/inclusive/sensitive representation, but soon discarded because some discriminative or exclusive agenda was dug up. Of curse something would be dug up because it’s not what you say it’s how you say it. Guess what, African Americans (or Native Americans, or Asian Americans, or maybe even Hispanics) will not last. Only when discrimination is eliminated from people’s behavior and mindset will the argument over labels cease, and after that it won’t matter what terms are said.

    We think by reinventing political correct terms we are approaching political truth. But who’s to say we are not getting ourselves away (or hidden) from the truth.

  40. Gin says:

    ….because it’s not what you say it’s how you say it.

    It also matters who says it. Blacks, their friends, the comedians still say all those word today, and in the right context.

  41. 托的 says:

    This whole PC thing is overblown. I am anti-PC, but I realize that it all just comes down to people wanting to use their own terms to label things. Period. Some people want to call the invasion of Iraq a “liberation.” Some people want to call it an “occupation.” This is just another version of political correctness. The right has its own political correctness just as the left does. You see it in all political discourse on both sides (if you are awake). It’s just that the PC of the right applies to other issues — the issues the right cares about deeply (like abortion, Iraq, tax policy, religion, etc.) Examine those areas and you’ll find just as much PC language as the left uses on issues like race, abortion, diversity, etc. (you can really see it on the abortion issue: “pro-life” and “baby” vs. “pro-choice” and “fetus.”)

    My point: you can’t escape political correctness. You can only be more or less dogmatic about it, or more or less aware of it.

    • myelin says:

      I’m a student that is learning about PC and what everyone seems to be calling ‘PC-ness’. My teacher gave us the dictionary definition and asked us ‘are you surprised?’ and to be honest, I wasn’t, because that was my original impression of it. But I’ve just read this thing and now I understand. I don’t believe that PC is intrinsically bad, but I do believe that the media has blown it way out of proportion. Because originally, politically correct language was just a fancy way of saying ‘I don’t want to offend you, therefore, I will use this term which describes exactly what you are.’ It wasn’t meant to confine people, just to be used to not offend. And I think it was supposed to range from different social contexts. Obviously, they didn’t expect people that weren’t offended by it to use it, there was a majority of people who were offended by the term ‘black’ and ‘nigger’ which is why PC language was created. It was also created with the thought that if you created better words for the same thing, then the views towards it will be better. And that’s exactly what it did, because here we are, in the 21st century, not offended by these terms. So my question is. Has politically correct language already fulfilled its original goal and has been subjected to such media back talk that it shouldn’t be used any longer?

  42. Da Xiangchang says:

    I will never ever be a Republican (too many damn rednecks and religious freaks!), but the liberals’ identity politics will prevent me from ever becoming a Democrat. All these PC terms were invented by guilty white liberals to feel better about themselves. Needless to say, a lot of these terms I find absolutely repulsive, like, say, “people of color.” What does this term mean; where does its logic lie? I guess it has something to do with the supposedly excessive melatonin of nonwhite people–but white people have melatonin too so they should also logically be included in “people of color.” In fact, the only people who are NOT “people of color” are albinos.

    You know, screw this antiquated terminology! Since this blog is about China and I’m Chinese, I will invent new terms from a Chinese perspective. White, black (African-American), Asian (yellow, Oriental, etc.)–these are all stupid guilty-white-liberal American terms. So I will use these my terms from now on:

    GOLDEN = Asian PINK = white BROWN = black

    There we go. From now on, I will only use these terms if we’re going to get all racial.

  43. Gavin says:

    Chinese racists?

    Would you 洋人 please stop being such 白痴 and instead of endlessly 出洋相 why don’t you 来华 and stop being such 老外.

    Please note that all of these words are part of everyday discourse in China and are blatently racist.

  44. Gin says:

    John,

    In the 29 days in November, you posted 19 articles, with a minimum of 7 comments on each. Amazing.

  45. George says:

    I believe the Chinese, for centuries, have referred to white people as “ghosts” if I’m not mistaken. I am outraged. Where is the Rainbow Coalition when I need them? Oh, I guess white isn’t really a color in the rainbow. That coalition is for everybody but persons of white color.

  46. Da Xiangchang says:

    George,

    I’m sorry, but that’s not true. When Chinese people refer to pink people as “gui,” it’s not because of their pale complexions. For example, Chinese people often refer to Africans as “hei gui”–BLACK GHOSTS, which in America would seem like an oxymoron. What you’re doing, George–and I don’t mean this to deprecate you–is seeing the Chinese expression from a strictly Western viewpoint–i.e., along racial/color lines, when it’s nothing of the kind. The Chinese just call foreigners “ghosts” whether they’re pink or not; if they wanted to specifically call a pink person a pink person, they would say, “bai gui,” which is a white ghost. And this “white ghost” business has more to do with the Chinese being influenced by the West than their own indigenous racial categories. If you were to read early Chinese views of Europeans from the Ming Dynasty–as I have–you would see the difference in skin colors is something the Chinese find vastly less important than physical differences like, say, in eye or hair color, the length of the nose, or the amount of body hair. So I doubt the Chinese referred to pink people as “white ghosts” for centuries. In other words, the Chinese are racially obsessed, but not in the same way as Westerners and especially not as Americans are.

  47. Da Xiangchang says:

    I’ll give one real-life example of what I just said. Once, a pink friend and I went to a massage parlor in Jiangsu Province. While the pink friend was getting a massage, the other masseuse was talking to me. She wasn’t sure whether I was a foreigner or not. She kept on saying how I was probably Chinese since I had straight black hair and dark eyes and could speak Chinese, etc., whereas my pink friend obviously didn’t. She even had this mini-debate with herself about this, weighing the various pros/cons of each argument. During this entire time, however, she NOT ONCE mentioned how my skin color–i.e., golden–was exactly like hers and unlike my pink friend’s.

  48. Chappie says:

    Oh by the way I have found this toothpast also… But here in the netherlands :S

    http://home.hccnet.nl/chappie/Fun/darkie.jpg

  49. Richard says:

    There’s a lot of projection going on here. When that toothpaste brand came in to being, “Darkie” was an acceptable term and a black man in a top hat was a respectable image; and while the perception of that image and word has certainly changed in the US, just because you find it offensive doesn’t make it universally so. For instance, do you find the image of an Indian head replete with feathers attached to the caption “Redskin” just as offensive as the Darkie toothpaste image? Why or why not? Certainly most Americans don’t seem to.

  50. Omegared says:

    Hmm…Being a “Gui Lo” or White Ghost myself I find that according to many of my Chinese professors that “Gui Lo” is a slang or racist comment. So they use “Lau Wai” meaning outsider or foreigner. Still mildly offenseive, but I guess since I am not one blinded by my own personal culture does mean something good to me.

    Having married into a Chinese family I can tell you that my immediate relatives, wife, father in law and mother in law probably do not care too much that I am white. Everyone else mostly ingnores me politely, children and yound adults say that I am a “monkey” and generally will not really respect anything I may do or say. I have even learned Chinese, only to learn that no one wants to listen or get to know a “Gui Lo” since you can never really trust one anyways.

    Don’t bother learning Chinese if you are white…It’ll only encourage racism..”Hey look at the Chinese speaking monkey!!! Isn’t he smart! Can I take a picture with you?”

  51. james says:

    I recently found an unopened tube of darkie tooth paste in the box. It was in my attic, I thougt it was some kind of rude joke gift or gag. I (thru this site) found out otherwise. Im closer to old age than middleage , so I can remember the indeference some corperations and many people had back in the day. I think the it is a very bad way to advertise or name a product but being the greedy american that I am , Ill sell it on ebay or something.

  52. Arnie says:

    Chinese were just trying to sell toothpaste. And be white at the same time. They have always aped Americans and this is just another example. Harmless aping.

  53. Amon Ra says:

    I cannot understand why Chinese have any problems at all with those of African descent. Have Africans ever colonized them, made them into dope addicts, or even made them wear pig tails? As for the comment that Africans are so different, haven’t Chinese ever seen any of their dark skinned fellow Asians from India? Even so called Chinese have dark skin (look at the aboriginals of Taiwan or Hainan). I think there is something truly sick here mixed with lots of brainwashing.

  54. Amon Ra says:

    Moreover don’t most Chinese worship a dark skinned, curly haired person commonly referred to as the Buddha? I wonder how many refer to him as “Darkie” during prayer?

  55. Roy says:

    I have lived in Malaysia, Singapore, USA, New Zealand and UK now.

    There is bigotry in ever country I’ve lived in, except the “victims” are quite often different groups. Having said that in my experience Asian countries tend to be the worst.

    Rather than try to change a culture, it’s much easier to just in a country where you’d be accepted. Therefore I’d never live in Asia again.

  56. DJW says:

    I always buy Darkie toothpaste precisely because of its non PC connotation, but it is pathetic that it has been renamed Darlie. But the Chinese characters clearly indicate what the name means.

    I find it pathetic that so many Westerners in China are importing their race agenda into China. Chinese people do not respect Africans because Africa has no advanced economies. It is simply that. There is no reason for Chinese people to be polite about people of all races. To this extent China is a freer country than the West. We have lost our freedoms in the West because we dare not open our mouths on issues surrounding race and culture. BUT: I bet all the people posting in this thread have moved every muscle and stretched every sinew to escape racial diversity in their own country. In the US: nearly everyone says they like diversity. But look at where they live and where they send there kids to school. They could live in downtown areas, near where they work, and buy a house for $75000, but no, they’d rather live 4 hours out in the exburbs where the houses cost $300000 and they have an 8 hour journey to and fro from work. Why? If they love diversity so much, why the effort to escape from it? It wouldn’t have anything to do with crime and violence in black areas would it?????? Oh the joys of diversity! Such hypocrisy!

  57. DJW says:

    One of my published articles on the subject of race and national identity has been posted in chinese-forums.com as a PDF. See http://www.chinese-forums.com/showpost.php?p=64555&postcount=15

  58. Max says:
    I find it pathetic that so many Westerners in China are importing their race agenda into China. Chinese people do not respect Africans because Africa has no advanced economies. It is simply that. There is no reason for Chinese people to be polite about people of all races.

    That is the stupidist thing anyone has said here. So if you have no advanced economy, hence $$$$$$. Chinese don’t respect you. So let me guess the name of their real God…. money? According to what you said this must be true. There is no reason for Chinese to be polite about people of all races. I’m forgiving the grammar, but yes there is. People are human beings. All of us deserve simple everyday respect until we prove otherwise.

    And as someone that’s lived in and been to 5 Asian countries I can tell you this the average Chinese person can’t tell the difference between a MBA carrying black guy from UCLA, a black Englishman from Liverpool or a black kid from Ghana. What I’m saying is that they don’t respect a person because of color…not markets. Get real. This just shows ignorance and a lack of understanding.

    Our country may indeed have its problems, yet China is not the model to hold up against the USA. Shall I explain why?

  59. hei long says:

    The whole PC thing is actually very new to America and Europe, Its not very old at all. So dont expect the rest of the world to accept your world view. Black people have enough problems fighting each other in Africa. Any way one common misconception is that the Black people in America are black most of them are half white, but I guess everyone see’s there skin colour only.

  60. DJW says:

    Quote: There is no reason for Chinese to be polite about people of all races. I’m forgiving the grammar, but yes there is. People are human beings. All of us deserve simple everyday respect until we prove otherwise.

    Matt, there is no reason for you to forgive the grammar in my sentence quoted above. The grammar is correct. Are you an English teacher? LOL! As I said there is no reason for Chinese people to be polite about people of all races. The only reason you can adduce is a left-wing political principle, which it is not compulsory for all people to abide by. The fact is that Chinese people respect achievement. There are very few black achievers, and strip out the affects of positive discrimination, and you only have sportsmen and entertainers to talk about. The reason why Chinese people do not discriminate between black MBA holders and the poor blacks of Ghana is simply because black MBA holders from UCLA are utterly unrepresentative of African Americans. At least 50% of African American males do time in prison at one time in their lives. Stereotypes are generalisations, but generalisations made on the basis of hard facts. They may not be true in every single case, but they are true in most cases. What you should have said iss that the Chinese do not discriminate between African Americans, who rape and kill and sit on welfare in large numbers, and blacks in Liverpool who commit crimes in record numbers and blacks in Ghana. True enough, but why should they. The common denominators are clear and so therefore noticed by the Chinese. Can we raise the intellectual tone of this thread, Matt, or do you belong to a population group with low average IQ?

  61. Da Xiangchang says:

    DESIRING to JUST be WHITE,

    All I know is people with supposedly low IQs now include the most powerful woman in the world (Rice), the richest self-made woman in the world (Oprah), the guy who has sex with probably the best-looking woman in the world (Seal), etc. Meanwhile, the guy with the supposedly high IQ, having been a total failure in the West, was last seen scrounging for a used computer in Kunming.

  62. Dorkie says:

    I’m sorry to say but it’s ironic how some of the guys here, many of them white with probably a Chinese gf, mourning over racial inequalities and socio/economical advantages of white men against other races, WITOUUT WHICH there’s now way they’d ever gotten a woman of the same level. When in doubt, casually ask your gf ‘if you weren’t with me, would you consider going out with a black guy?’ Yes all of us are social sluts, to some extent – I go to McDonalds, buy t-shirts probably made by children in Vietnam, my extra money consumed on spa/nails instead of UNICEF…the list goes on. However most of us casually admit, ‘well, I may owe some of my daily convenience/luxuries to the social wrongs, and I’m still doing it’. How many of these men are willing admit ‘yes, I owe at least part of my relationship/sex life to social/economical inequalities in China’.

  63. DJW says:

    Dorkie, I for one have no hangups over social or economic inequalities. In fact, I embrace them as a necessary part of a heatlhy society. If I am able to benefit from them sometimes, then all to the good.

  64. Yindee says:

    I am an American black man and first saw “Darkie” toothpast when stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam war. I confess to being greatly offended both by the name of the product and by the picture on the label. I soon learned that Thai prople, who did not see the world in the same context as I, saw nothing wrong with the name of the product or the picture. Moreover, they saw nothing offensive in repeating many of the racial slurs and insults the learned from American Literature, movies and many of the whites who brought their hate with them to the far east. From my point of view, not knowing something is offensive to another person, does not make it any less offensive.

    The far east, including China, Japan and Korea often revere icons that I perceive as demeaning and offensive; like the inflatable dolls in Japan a few years back that were painted to look like pickaninny’s. Japanese people proudly wore these offensive things on their arms and joked about it. I refuese to believe that the Japanese were unaware of how offensive these dolls were to persons of African descent because a delegation of Japanese businessmen visitors came my office back then and brought several of the dolls with them. They had inteded one of them for me until they found out that I was Black…then all of the dolls mysteriously disappeared.

  65. Jeff says:

    $75,000 to live in an urban area in the US??? Awesome, sign me up, I’m there!

  66. Ted Chan says:

    Well!! I am a Chinese who been living in England for 10 years. And the reason I am on this site is, coz I saw a photo of myself when I was 2 back in 1984. I was playing with a DarkieToothpaste box and I was shock!!! I never remenber that stuff at all!!! The fact is whoever bought this out in China or HK doesn’t have a clue for ShXt!!! I have friends who are Black! I love my Hip Hop!! The Chinese have nothing against the Blacks!!! I am sure this Toothpaste BullshXt is just a big Mistake!!!!! Everybody should chill out!!! This happened bloody ages ago!!!!!!

  67. derrick says:

    The commercial still goes on here so I guess there is nothing more to say…Ignorance prevails agian.

  68. JeffEnsley says:

    Try watching “Confederate States of America”, a film by my former professor. It says it all.

  69. can anyone tell me where i can find ethinc purposes for using toothpaste for acne help? many of my black brothers and sisters use the all white toothpaste on their skin for pimples. if anyone can help me with this iwould apreciate it. i have a paper to do and we need to find a product that is sold on the market but one i whichwe use it for a whole different purpose. thank you. ogami

  70. J Randall says:

    It all boils down to remarks made by people who do not know that they have offended do offend, and the offended not knowing how to correct the offence without seeming to be angry at the offender. Trying to correct an error being perpetrated by millions of people becomes a monumental task. If only one notices and only two respond, is that progress?. There is even to this day, many labels that are not correct to one group or the other, where do we/they start to let the public know that this or that should be this or that. The inability to be flexible in actions and deeds cause ripples in harmony around the world. Is there an equivalent of the tower of babble in all religions? The first people were supposed to be perfect in every way, the gene pool on earth must have run it’s course by now because mankind is self-destructing all by itself.

  71. gee says:

    Reading the comments simply made me chuckle. DJW I don’t know your age but, you remind me of an older fellow I worked with 1- summer when KI was in college. He was an older gentleman, who had served in the armed services and had all these War stories. 1- of the workers told me to ask Carl about some of his War stories. I was excited about hearing his stories. Much to my chagrin when old Carl found out I was black(actually I( /2 black and 1/2 half Italian) and he(the old fellow Carl), 100% Italian made for many awkward moments. These moments lasted for awhile untill I broke out my flawless Italian, and I was somehow able to gain some acceptance from him. However, speaking to this guy was like walking back in time,. He referred to Black people as “colored”, and spoke quite disparingly of Black eople on the whole. Finally 1- day I told him, “Carl, this 2000, No one refers to Black as “Colored” anymore and the contribution of African American people are so vast and varied, I could speak for days on their accomplishments…

    My main point is, If someonne pointed ouy to the Chinese people that the image on their toothpaste is considered offensive, they should have made an effort to correct this. It’s a simple as that. It does not matter about culture tradition etc,. It’s simply the right thing to do.

    DJW??? I’m sure you would have seen or heard of that great baseball player named Jackie Robinson, or perhaps that dynamic center for the Boston celtics Bill Russell, or perhaps that fine Actor and Academy award winner Sidney Poitier??? Thurgood Marshall??? Bill Cosby? Michael jordan? Oprah winfrey? Did you not know that the Traffic Light was invented by a Black man(Garrett A. Morgan)???

    DJW, I’m sure your propensity to “Generalize” is a product of the era in which you were born, NOT YOUR LACK OF INTELLIGENCE. You remind me my old friend Carl. Carl has gone on… and his “Neanderthal views” have been put to rest with him as well. DJW? by the way, “HOW OLD ARE YOU???

  72. ....... says:

    What gives chinese the right to be racist why must we critize upon race people cannot help what race they are but critizing and calling name’s will not make their live’s any better and frankly i can’t see why it make’s chinese live’s better just because you see a black rapper on tv acting ignorent you cannot simply think we are all like that and surely you don’t see black’s roaming around callin you rice eater or stupid chink. So why do you do it to us.We have not made a toothpaste called CHEAP CHINK TOOTHPASTE IT’S CHEAP AND WHITEN YOUR TEETH!!! NEW RICE FLAVOR!!! and for DJW’s comment that AFRICA HAS NO ADVANCED ECONOMY ARICA IS AN ENTIRE CONTINENT. So Im sure that one of the countries or certain part’s of it has an advanced economy and as for the whole diversity comment well who set it up so black’s decline and white’s prosper?. Your comment just show’s how uneducated chinese people are and how the judge a book by it’s cover.

  73. Lola says:

    You may be interested to know that there is now a toothpaste available in Hong Kong (birthplace of the original Darkie brand) called “Chinky”.

    http://www.hshcl.com/pdt.php?name=CHINKY&namec=%BE%A6%B0%B7%20Chinky&line=52

    It appears to be manufactured by either a HK or mainland China company.

  74. me says:

    OK, If this was a piece of furniture made in Africa no one would bother evern starting this nonsense.

    Black people should decide if “this word” should exist in the Black Webster’s Dictionary edition only or not. This word is either off limits for everyone or live with it.

  75. TaxHaven says:

    Well, I for one WON’T be buying any more of Colgate’s products…

  76. Colin says:

    I object …. its a poor white man on the toothpaste now …. racists!

  77. Sharif says:

    Very cool post… In Chinese, Darkie means ‘black man’.

  78. XinZhiDuMing says:

    “Da XiangChang”? Wow, that’s a great name, although perhaps a little self promotional. Would “Big Snausage” be a correct English translation?

    I remember Darkie toothpaste from when I lived in Taiwan and I brought a tube back to America as a souvenir. When I got to customs in Detroit, I had the choice between a white customs officer and a brother. I lined up in whitie’s queue and he smiled when he inspected my luggage and saw the tube of Darkie. Hopefully it doesn’t have antifreeze in it.

    Darkie is definitely a racist slur but I live in a town with the “Redskins” NFL franchise. How do they get away with that?

  79. Sammy says:

    “I find it pathetic that so many Westerners in China are importing their race agenda into China. Chinese people do not respect Africans because Africa has no advanced economies. It is simply that. There is no reason for Chinese people to be polite about people of all races. To this extent China is a freer country than the West.”

    Well, well your lack of historical perspective is obviously apparent. Do you know that one of the greatest of trading cities in Africa was in Timbuktu in western Africa? So great that many from Europe and the east traded there. If you look at what is called “Egytian art” those faces sure were of black africans and not of arabs as seen in Egypt today. And even the Europeans such as the great Hippocrates studied medicine in ancient Egypt, ancient home of black Africans? Yet, Hippocrates is called “the father of modern medicine.” Makes me laugh. He himself admitted knowing what he learned from the Africans.

    It is shocking that you totally ignore colonialism, the great divider. Africa is the richest continent on the planet yet suffers from mass affliction of poverty. Where do you think the majority of the world’s diamonds come from? Or many of the natural elements use in cellphones and other technologies today? And the uranium used to produce atom bombs? The fact is over 200 years ago the Europeans have divyvied up Africa and created their own sphere of influence from the Belgian Congo to the Portuguese in Angola.

    They have raped the natural resources of the African people. And have encouraged a string of civil wars or installed dictators to do their bidding to control the natural resources. It is sad that naive people can blame the victims. If you walk through the streets of Paris, France you will appreciate what I’m saying. Much of that wealth came from Africa. To deny this obvious fact shows a lack of knowledge and historical perspective.

    China fell victim to the British and French too who forced the opium trade on them. Imagine forcing another nation’s citizens to become drug addicts? Opium is so potent that it was nearly impossible for the Chinese to get rid of opium addiction. It took the present day communists to eradicate this malicious vice that destroyed families, with fathers selling their own daughters into prostitution so they can smoke opium. So, the chinese put a bullet into the heads of opium addicts and that is how they eventually rid their nation of the scourge of opium. But you respect the British because they have an economy built on thievery and pillaging in other people’s lands.

    So, Hong Kong became great under the British because China had to lease it for over a hundred years because China had the “nerve” to go up against the British who brought death and destruction to their fellow citizens.

    You ignore reality. The present problems of this world are rooted deep in injustices. A great people can be brought down to their knees by those with wits and guns!

  80. LaVandez says:

    Great discussion, what makes since is once you become knowledgable you must then decide what to do next? I’m black, have a host of asian friends, and if I know something I take the appropriate action. I also work in new product consulting and once your products have to update with the times. There are other ways to convey “black people have great teeth” if that’s what you are trying to convey; different imagery and different wording would play out well.

  81. Monica says:

    Oh. My. God.

    “Darkie” is only a racial slur in the US because of the derogatory meaning people give it when they say it.

    Obviously the Chinese don’t know that it is a slur in America, or the derogatory meaning behind it because of they aren’t that familiar with American slang and they wouldn’t know the cultural history of slavery, Jim Crow, KKK, etc that sits behind the word.

    They think black people have really white teeth the same way they think white people have big eyes and high noses. No malice intended.

    This toothpaste is less about racism than cluelessness about the fact that “Darkie” is actually a slur in another country. It is racist in the US because the US has the collective cultural memory to back it up.

    The analogy about naming a hair dye “Chinky Hair Color” with a buck-toothed, slanty-eyed yellow Chinese person doesn’t fly because if you take it to China, people aren’t going to be offended, just puzzled, since they don’t know that the American stereotype or the word “Chink” is supposed to be offensive to them.

    A better analogy is they sold a skin-whitening cream with a white girl on the packaging and called it “White Person Skin Cream” in Chinese and translated it as “Whitie Whitening Cream”. Same intent as “Darkie”, except that “Whitie” isn’t a big racial slur.

  82. bobanddickandmabelandjeff says:

    My mother told me the name was changed from “Darkie” to “Darlie” because (pardon for lack of a better word) white folk (or “Western folk”, as she calls em) thought the term was derogatory to black people (now, I work for the gov’s Racial Equality team, and there is controversy over whether the term “black” should be used as a classification either – but that’s obviously another topic entirely). My mother is a septugenarian, and the Hawley and Hazel company was founded when she was a child, by her family. 70 years ago, there was little concept of racism as we know it today, because people in China and HK had less direct contact with Westerners. Black and white faces were seen as exotic, and it’s commonly perceived, or at least was at that time, that people with dark skin had lovely white teeth (perhaps because of the contrast?). Terms are only considered racist if they are used as such, and the name “Darkie” is not really seen as a racist commentary in most parts of China and HK. In fact, that’s probably why it’s still called “Black Man’s Toothpaste” in Chinese.

  83. Ultra says:

    Gavin Said:

    “Chinese racists?

    Would you 洋人 please stop being such 白痴 and instead of endlessly 出洋相 why don’t you 来华 and stop being such 老外.

    Please note that all of these words are part of everyday discourse in China and are blatently racist.”

    It shows your lack of understanding of Chinese language.

    洋人 = People from across the ocean. 洋 = Ocean. It means foreigners. Is the english word “foreigners” an offensive term?! I never realise such word has became offensive all of a sudden. So how is that word Racist?!

    白痴 = idiot, 白 = in this case DOES NOT MEAN THE COLOR WHITE, IT MEANS “THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE/UNDERSTANDING”, If you believe “白” mean the “color white or white people” then I am sure you are clueless why this common saying in Chinese “一窮二白” means “one poor two white”. Again, let me emphasis, the word “白” in chinese means the “lack of” or “nothing”. In “一窮二白” case, it means “dirt poor”.

    痴 = maniac. 白痴 literally means a maniac lack of any knowledge or understanding.

    来华, I don’t understand simplified Chinese, so you will have to get someone who understand them to explain it to you.

    As for “老外”, it means : 老 = old 外 = outside/outsider.

    It means an old outsider. How is that racist??

    So, none of these term you mention ARE racist. Please learn the language before you mouth off.

  84. Ultra says:

    COON CHEESE : http://glenyalla.typepad.com/once_upon_a_blog/images/100_2038.jpg

    COON CHEESE! So, when it is a “chinaman” who unknowingly made the mistake of naming the brand name to “Darkie”, the white are quick point out so everyone goes on China-bashing (which is quite racist in nature).

    But when it is a WHITE Australian company who name their product “COON” IN BIG BOLD LETTERS, AND REFUSE TO CHANGE, nobody even mention it, or doesn’t see it as offensive. OH I GET IT, RACISM ONLY EXIST FOR NON-WHITE.

  85. Alan says:

    there is a tube with box on sale in new zealand on auction now, I think there should only have been a problem with Darkie if the paste had been made black inside.I collect jolly nigger money boxes and there is always someone making some comment about them too.

  86. Alan says:

    Is there away of buying some of thee old boxed tubes for a collector, please let me know thanks.

  87. Tuur says:

    Look what I found at my local supermarket here in Brussels this week:

    http://www.tuur.be/varia/blackheadrum.jpg

    The supermarket belongs to one of the largest chains in Belgium: GB (‘Grand Bazaar’), a daughter company of Carrefour.

    As to the bottle: it’s the cheapest brand of rum they carry but it’s quite drinkable :-)

  88. D says:

    How funny is this! I’m currently in Honolulu and have a Chinese friend, that has a Hawaiian nation as a friend. Her friend is married to a woman from Bangkok. He gave here a tube of Darkie Toothpaste for Christmas and she was surprised that knew about the brand. After reading the header of this blog about Colgate buying the Hong Kong company in 1985, I have to note that I was in Thailand in 1989 and saw the toothpaste in stores and at a families home that I had met! I don’t read Thai, but the tube that she has is the new Green Tea formula with the same photo as before! Is true that people around the world want to real be Black? I’m honored! D

  89. ferin says:

    Uh the Ancient Egyptians were not 100% black. They looked the same they do today.

    But I agree, China and East/Southeast Asians treat whites far too well. Bloggers need to write about that.

  90. RhodesSkolar says:

    I have a boxed tube of Darkie Toothpaste which I purchased in Hong Kong years ago. I might consider selling it to a collector in Guatemala. His offer? $3,500 Mexican pesos.

  91. Jake says:

    I have a calender from 1912 Darkie brand calender i got from a auction in real good shape and all months are on it.

  92. Jeffrey D says:

    Dick Cavett (with Eddie Murphy) brought a bottle from Thailand and have their own commentary on the David Letterman show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYbkYfKMhsU . “If you ever go to Thailand, punch somebody in the eye.”

  93. john says:

    From the people who brought you “executed prisoners stripped of their skin also known as the bodies exhibit”

  94. Willowtree says:

    Ultra, in your research you should have actually done some reading rather than just a quick skim of a google image search.

    Coon has never been a racial slur in Australia, the slur is American in origin, and this is Australian cheese, made in Australia. Further, it’s named after Edward William Coon, who patented the process.

    Finally, it’s much more common to be called a racist when you are white.

    Incidentally, that is my image you have referenced.

  95. Terry B says:

    I’m white – and have always admired Aunt Jamima products – I see it as someone’s wonderful grandmother/aunt who makes great food – like my grandmother used to.

    Darkie tooth paste – I guess someone like it because they sold the stuff for years.

    Oh – maybe they should stop calling them crackers – maybe white people get offended – they should be called ‘cruncy waffers’ or something.

    Oh yea – let’s not forget about those vienne sausages – I would not want to offend my dachsund….

    Get over it -

  96. Im a black american, and i find the toothpaste especially to be hilarious. Its not important what its called, its the spirit that it was said in. The toothpaste was not named coon disparigingly so nobody should take offense to it. Context is everything, its never what you say , but how you say it and what you meant that counts. My best friend is from hong kong and the unscientific things that people would believe is hilarious though, id probably be able to convince people that i could fly if i wanted to haha.

  97. Nicole says:

    The toothpaste is offensive…period. If the proper translation is “black man toothpaste”, it should be written as such. Not “DARKIE”…which the english version of the word suggests that whichever perfectly knowledgeable American translator translated it was completely aware of its english connotations. “Darkie” was never an acceptable term, neither is the N-word to any of you who fail to know of this fact. The only reason it was said so freely back in its time was because blacks were hindered legally from being able to express their discontent. If they voiced it regardless, they would be severely punished. But let it be known, that this terminology (past or present usage) would rarely be used by others in a setting in which they were extremely outnumbered…why? Because people are aware of the settings in which they can and CAN NOT get away with their actions. The internet is a lovely breeding ground for the likes of cowardly cyber-sycophants.

    The argument that blacks have never been the cultivators behind any seemingly advanced society shows the mark of stupidity on the person who would make such an idiotic comment. You don’t even have the decency to transcend your level of idiocy onto a plain remotely close to ignorance (clarification of ignorance: knowing yet intentionally disregarding information).

    The aspect I dislike most about this blog post is not the post itself (or even the product), but some of the commentaries. “Coon” cheese someone wrote…I’m sorry but this made me laugh hysterically (at you!). Did you even look up the product to see why it was named as such? If you didn’t, it’s named after a person. The other term you were referring to, is a derogatory term abbreviated from the term RACCOON…which whites shortened and used to categorize black people…like animals. Can you understand the difference? All of this buffoonery needs to stop. Apparently, the public/private school systems have failed some of you. Or, if I wanted to categorize you as some of you have so incorrectly generalized blacks, I might equate your stupidity to the failure of your genetics.

    But, I wouldn’t do that and do you want to know why?…I have (for one thing…CLASS) respect for people until they feel the need to act in a manner not worthy of it. Luckily, I have friends that prevent me from making sweeping generalizations of any “race” (which doesn’t exist biologically), religion, or class hierarchy. Maybe, some of you should try expanding (or even creating) your social circles. My Taiwanese friend who just came to the U.S. a few years ago makes some comments about blacks, but I know she doesn’t mean ill will or we wouldn’t be friends. What I do is explain to her what is acceptable and what is not, as she does for me if I state something incorrectly or unknowingly offensive about her culture. It’s this strange habit intelligent people take up called LEARNING. Try it sometime!

    I’m actually flattered by the whole white teeth commotion–I get this all the time. This German woman in my class pointed out how she thought my teeth were so white and I wasn’t offended. My Filipino coworker mentioned this to me the other day…along with his love of my wide eyes and high cheekbones. My Taiwanese friend, now one of my my best friends, told me she wanted my hair texture. I’ve been to other countries (including China and Germany) and I’ve experienced people ogling me, but I think that’s possibly the positive fascination or intrigue they feel with regards to my aesthetics. If it were hate, I wouldn’t care nonetheless. I accept myself and really no other person’s opinion of me matters more than my own–you can choose to like or dislike me (I’ll keep living, probably a better quality of life then most fortunately, anyway). I love being black and you should love being who you are without feeling the need to bring down someone else to lift you up; that would truly be the sign of mental inferiority.

    P.S. Blacks live in affluent suburbs too. I happen to inhabit a predominately black county that has one of the lowest crime rates in the entire U.S. nation. So, I guess there’s no where you can truly hide except for the chaotic waste of space you may call your mind.

  98. John says:

    With regard to the product, the Chinese Characters highlighted on today’s product spell out “black man toothpaste” there is no ambiguity relative to picture interpretation, etc.

    However, what is interesting, is that as Obama was voted in, the toothpaste known as Blackperson Toothpaste was completely cleared off the shelves in a local Walmart affiliate “Trust-Mart” here near a major City in China. I do not believe Walmart “controls” Trust-Mart as I do not think they have a controlling interest (it is possible Walmark helped them see the light).

    The timing seems to indicate renewed consideration for what is deemed appropriate or offensive. However, ALL of this speculation on my part on why this product is suddenly not available.

    In the end, perhaps Obama’s rise to the Presidency is providing impact across the globe in unexpected ways, certainly “raising the bar” and awareness.

    If in fact the move to remove the product has been made due to the racial references of the product, then it is a good day … for everyone.

  99. anonymous says:

    I am curious to know how many black people have commented on this post, and even more curious to know if those who attempted to place racial slurs against blacks on a scale from “most offensive” to “least offensive.” I highly doubt that you (unless you are black) can accurately categorize the level of offense that the word “Darky” has. It is most certainly not a compliment and it is not socially acceptable. Nor is it in the same realm as “Negro” or “Colored.” And if there must be a scale it is more in the ranks of slurs like “Coon,” “Jiggaboo,” “Sambo,” or the oh so infamous “Nigger!”

    Also, being “ignorant” of other cultures is no longer an excuse for being racist it is 2009.

  100. anonymous says:

    Terry B. that “Cracker” comment was irrelavent, crackers were called crackers before it became and attempt at a slur toward white americans, so there would be no reason to be offended.

    Someone made a comment about how Egyptians were not 100% black.(though their skin may not be “black” they are African 100%. I think that a vast majority of people see black people as one thing. They are not. They come in all different shades in case you didnt know from the fairest of fair to the blackest of black. They are not a race lacking in diversity and that is one of the many reasons I think black people are so beautiful.

  101. ahhh what is it with these people who think they understand what is not racist? How did they get that in their heads? Unbelieveably sociopathic…….

  102. analbandit says:

    Those chinkz doesn’t have a history of oppressing Africans, hence they don’t have the white guilt about open racism. Now this whole “I am not racist but…” racist shit by white Yanks are sick!

  103. Wow says:

    Analbandit, was the irony intentional?

    I was in the “well, the only people who found this offensive was those who came from the culture who made it offensive” camp until I read your reply. Thanks for driving home the point.

  104. Adam says:

    This is what happens when old tales are repeated as new. The toothpaste in question was in fact once called “Darkie” in English. In the mid-1980s, it was renamed in English to “Darlie” and so it stands today. I was a witness to this transition, I did not hear about it 2nd hand and/or 20 years later – I was a “Gwailo” (google that!) living in British Hong Kong at the time. Sure, the name in Chinese may have gone unchanged, what would you really expect and why?

    During the same period of the name change there was a boycott, even sanctions, against South African goods (including Gold Krugrerands) throughout most of the World. This was owing to their policy of Apartheid (google that, kids). Hong Kong residents in particular, didn’t really care and traded Krugerrands openly with no shame. The general opinion was that Apartheid wasn’t their problem and bottom-line, Gold is Gold.

    Furthermore, it wasn’t that long ago that America had it’s own policy of Segregation. Other countries are aware of this part of our History. They’re reminded not only by the same films we see over here, but also by the way many are mistreated by Americans here and abroad (I’ve witnessed this as well). So, who are we to force other countries to be more “enlightened” in race relations, when we can’t even lead by example?

    Insofar as I can tell, racism exists in America among all “colors”. No single “race” is immune, both as actor and victim. Even those who try to be “non-racist” sometimes end up being inadvertently racist, when they favor yet another race over another – They still discriminate, they just discriminate differently. Perhaps it’s just the Human Condition to behave this way. If so, why would one expect anyone else to be any different regardless of their location, skin-tone, religion or lack thereof, etc., etc.?

    The best one can do, is to conduct themselves as fairly, without bias, toward others and possible and let the chips fall where they may. You can’t force everyone to like each other and to get along. That either comes naturally or not at all. But what you do as an individual, you’re solely accountable for.

  105. M. W says:

    I’m asian, chinese in specific, and after living most of my life in the states the difference between the states and asia is that asians DON’T hide their feelings regarding race. When it comes to chauvenism and also acts of discrimination, asians also do it amongst themselves. It’s not just race, but money and power that determines who is “better”.

    While Americans are “better” at discrimination and not offending others, face it, whites are racist and the political correctness is just a facade when deep down they believe the same philosophies as well and have arguably worse human rights records than Chinese.

    Now that people can express themselves anonymously they have nothing to loose and the level of racism on the internet is accurate of how one feels deep down.

    And what I don’t like about the arguments of some, especially some blacks who found offense to this, is that they can call other people racial slurs like chink but whine when they’re called niggers or blackies.

    Frankly you get what you give and when you call us racial slurs why can’t we?

  106. Robert Yaciuk says:

    I own an original Darkie Brand Economy size tube in a box. It is in fair condition and the contents of the tube seem to consistent with other pastes. I was always curious of its history and now I know a bit more.

  107. me says:

    M. W

    The end of your comment is ignorant. You do not get what you give in this respect. Ignorant people use slurs period. It is an ignorant and offensive name to name a product and it was in poor taste. The end. If someone called me a nigger or a cracker or a chink I would not resort to that form of retaliation.It is beneath me. There are far more creative and affective ways to bring someone down, I wouldnt need to use something so primitive and ridiculous. I like to tailor my insults to an individual.

  108. Yikes, I can’t fathom having a “darkie toothpaste” in today’s oversensitive world. But this was in Asia, right, so maybe racism still passes over there? Hmm. Anyways, interesting post, made me chuckle!

  109. get a clue! says:

    i am VERY affended by a lot of the comments on here because i have a mix of a lot of the races on here. what you say may sound okay to you because you grew up in a world that made racism okay because of steriotypes. but the few people one encounters dont even fit most of those steriotypes put on them. why cant people see past them though? and if you havent figured it out. WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF GOD! one day you will be judged and it wont matter what your race. just think about it. oh and EVERYONE has feelings. so anything you say can be taken as personal attack.

  110. sinfull says:

    Wow. I’ve just read from 2004 all the way through. Without causing offense to anyone, but would like to redirect the discussion back to the “Darkie” topic. Only, from a purely research point of view. I have been searching the world wide web for any info on a Darkie product and poof! This forum seems to be it. While I truly respect and understand that at the time, Americans (white America) shaped, at least partly, how the rest of the world dealt with matters of race. I am an average white chick, and was far too young to know white from yellow from black. But I’ve grown a brain through the years and who can deny that white America influenced the disrespect and ridicule through the very displaying of our own. However, that isn’t my interest here. What came of that era is Black Americana. One of the most powerful means of telling history that I’ve ever seen. The products, the Black Americana, has a voice that no racist can ignore because…it’s there! It can be seen everywhere, toothpaste and tobacianna and dolls and kitchen ware and ol Aunty Jem and yes! The reasons behind the existance of these products is ugly and suspicious, but the products can now speak for an era just by the very fact that they ARE. No young kid, learning history and culture, can easily grasp dry words in history books but here we now have a tool to show and tell…welcome it!! I’m not black but I buy Black Americana because it’s like having the voices and emotions of then walk in the door now. ppfftt… I got side-tracked..what I came looking for is info. on a tobacco pipe called…yep…darkie. click this link and you’ll see why http://s600.photobucket.com/albums/tt87/sinfull1/just%20Vintage/?action=view&current=PICT0795.jpg Now, the interesting thing is…while major digging has finally uncovered that the company who made these MIGHT be based in Belgium and be called Hilson, I still fail to find any written document that claims just who made these. Word is that they came from the vietnam era…maybe that is just a supposition based on the Darkie toothpaste, I don’t know.. Maybe somebody here can recall …and give me a clue. It started as just wanting to know why these pipes exist, but the harder it stays to find out, the more determined I become. So. I’m legit, working in conjunction with the lady who wrote The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls, and, Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion. Who can really say what motivations were behind individual actions, and certainly what was true for one wouldn’t be true for all..the thing to recognize is Black America has a whole new Newspaper called Black Americana, and it speaks loud enough for accountability, yeah? People only cut down what they fear or feel threatened by, the unknown. Quite slamming the products of that fear and let it speak for you. oh, and help me find info on this pipe! lol…You can email me at sinfull@ymail.com , or email Debbie at the link I left.

    Thanks for the place to vent!

  111. Concerned Consumer says:

    I just saw this issue on the View (Dec 1, 2010) – where the ladies quite PC-like voiced their opinions. After reading some of the responses – whether you are Asian or Non-Asian and no matter how you slice the intent or the history behind the product it is extremely offensive. These images and ideas of people of african descent were at a time in history where these people were treated less than human – in fact as property. What is not surprising is how deep racism is ingrained in people and travels from generation to generation – we should be so pass dealing with these issues. What is very surprising is that this group of people is so hated – but so culturally robbed by other groups (music, art, etc.)- how does that work in China and other countries? As far as I am concerned no one group is better than the other on human and civil rights on this planet – everyone has some ugly history towards color (ethnicity) and/or class. What bothers me is that you have a large corporation who now owns this offensive product and they are not responsible to ALL of their consumers by squashing the production of it. The fact that the blog got away from the outrage on a HUMAN level doesn’t surprise me either it shows how little we have travelled in our global history towards a more humane living space where equality is an ugly and often not honored reality.

  112. Owen says:

    you can buy darlie toothpaste at http://www.mybotai.com for 4 bucks

  113. Actually most Chinese have low opinion of Blacks due to experience with them in America. Most recent immigrants usually settle close to black ghetto areas. Many saw how most blacks family are not intact, black men unemployed, drug dealing, anti social behaviour, etc. However Chinese racists seldom commit racially hate crimes. Whereas Blacks often do commit racially bias hate crimes towards Asian and Hispanics. Their usual target are asian and hispanics with light skin color (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Cubans, light skinned latinos)

  114. dickyberd says:

    hey, dudes and dudettes, this may not be the most informed or intellectual response but why do we get so cut up about toothpaste. could we not stop following our own little rat runs and step outside. why this so important to us.

  115. Erik says:

    Circa 1986-87 a friend of mine visited China and returned with tubes of Darkie Tootpaste. The product was manufactured and marketed by Collgate at that time. It was the efforts of me and my friend that pressured Collegate to rename the product and change the image on the box. THe changed image was split down its center, verticaly. It became blackfaced on one side and whitefaced on the other. The matter made headlines in our local news papers. In the image above, it was the packaging third from left that we had. Fourth from the left has the changed facial image that Collgate designed though i do not recall if the overall box coloring and design was what collegate engineered.

    Oddly enough, it was not black people here that supported the change though they were upset by the original packaging. Our primary support came from whites.

  116. I wrote a post about this a while back, too, but I only had the original and the current ones. I love seeing the slow progression from “extremely offensive” to “slightly less offensive.” The toothpaste itself wasn’t that bad though–it kept my teeth clean and my breath fresh, which is what they pretty much all do, I suppose. Deadly Chinese brands excepted.

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