Well, its about time I said something I guess. Am I for real? Yup, I started the petition.
So to start by answering a few questions: am I from "south"? Yes I moved here 10 years ago. Saying that, as I had offended them, I should be kicked off Shetland, as happened on a different forum, is slightly sinister however given the history of "send them back where they came from."
Am I the sort of person who does this sort of thing all the time? No, I've never started a petition before unless you count "Bring back Scooby Doo" when I was at school! Is this about a specific shop or display - no. not really but I would have wanted to say something about this wherever I was living, Shetland or elsewhere. So why this issue and not something else "more serious"? Well, because I am offended by racist language and behaviour, as many folk are, because it is wrong - are there worse examples I could have chosen? Of course there are, but I wanted to draw attention to something I have become increasingly aware of - casual racism, and this seemed a good example that might get folk talking about it.
So what do I mean by that? I mean the kind of things that are said in day to day language but that are used thoughtlessly as a saying, rather than as a deliberate attempt to be unpleasant or offensive. Do I think Shetland folk are racist? No of course not. There are toxic, unpleasant racists to be found everywhere in the world and, although I have come across the very occasional person here that struck me that way, it was very unusual.
I'll now give some examples of what I'm talking about, and my apologies for any offence caused by the words I am about to use. These are the sort of things I hear on a regular basis in Shetland - perhaps I am just unlucky but over the years, a lot of folk, both from Shetland and incomers, have said that they hear the same.
"Lets get a chinky carry out" or "go out for a chinky"
"You've must have been away - your'e as brown as a Pakistani"
"If you get any more tanned you'll look like a Pakistani"
"She looked like a tink"
**** I see that each time I use the p word, it is being moderated automatically, but I'm sure you know the one I mean****
My mum could never get why saying she was going to the "Pakistani shop" was a problem as "she really likes Mr Patel". I used an old style picture for the petition because I wanted to give golliwogs their place in history - like "Little Black Sambo", I have quite fond memories of these stories and toys when I was growing up in Glasgow - I also used sectarian language. Do I do that now? No, because I know better. Unlike mum who passed many years ago, I can understand that the world moves on and that if people find something to be very offensive, why would I want to carry on using that language to offend them?
If anyone wants to read a much more eloquent comment on golliwogs, written in response to the case where during a planning dispute with her black neighbour, a woman put a golliwog on prominent display in her window, can I suggest this link which puts it much more eloquently than I ever could.
I love living in Shetland. I have found friendship and support in this community during difficult times from folk I hardly knew. This is NOT a dig at Shetland or Shetland folk. It is simply highlighting something that I have increasingly become aware of and would find very difficult wherever I lived.