What do I do with the Golly I bought? Answers on a postcard please

It all started a few days ago when I saw a gang of them in a shop window.  I bought this one: The Cricketer.  Now what do I do with him?   I am looking for  wild  ideas .  I’ll use  your suggestion as inspiration. It could be anything from “take him for a meal” to “dress him in black power beret with a raised fist in Wigan bus station”.



14 thoughts on “What do I do with the Golly I bought? Answers on a postcard please

  1. Get made into a Lord via one of those “buy yourself a title” websites.

    Get him photographed in the public gallery at Westminster during Prime Minister’s Question Time.

    Anything vaguely “Establishment”

  2. i think you should get him some job interviews, although i guess he’ll lack the cv. so maybe apply for some internships. i’ll leave it you to pick the ideal jobs!!

  3. I’m a bit worried about you Mr Sissay. You seem to be hell-bent on resurrecting a long forgotten ghost and not-so-nice alter ego of this doll.

    Why did you feel the need to go and dig him up in the Shetland Islands when the vast majority of people no longer even associate him with black people? Is there such a thing as forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance? Or is your open door of anti-racism just not quite pulled back far enough to let those through?

    You can’t change history and I fail to see how fanning the flames of something that has long died down is going to help.

  4. All of your ideas above glorify the Golly! Art used as propaganda isn’t art, it’s politics masquerading as art!

    You can simply take him with you to all of your performances for the rest of the season& see how much of a welcome it gets?!& simply document all of these responses in pics/text..you could create a questionnaire which people could fill& then you can create statistics in the end! Power to the People 🙂

    Good Luck man

  5. Hi there Lemn,

    I’d love to see our Cricketer patiently standing in a queue at a local Job Centre – or similar Social Welfare government office – a little dejected at the prospects of being outdated and no longer wanted in society (not to mention the prospects of living off a glum 56 pounds a week)

    all the best, Adrian

  6. Two options worthy of consideration;

    Firstly, as a high profile, well traveled young poet, take “The Cricketer” on your gigs around the globe. You could canvass opinion from people of many cultures as to what they make of him, gather a multi faceted, diverse and interesting response, sharing your experiences with us on this blog (just don’t accuse those who don’t find it offensive of being a racist as that may not be the case).

    Alternatively, you could return “The Cricketer” to the shop (with the receipt of course) and ask for a refund, outlining your reasons whilst having a robust conversation about the evils of this relic of a bygone era. You could at the same time apologise to the lady in question for accusing her of being a deluded racist, perhaps over a cup of tea. Blog about that and perhaps you will both come out of this experience better for it.

    Finally, as “The Cricketer” appears to have been born in the UK why don’t you track down the business who made him and direct some of your considerably erudite views at them?

    All the best

  7. Lemn, you could do something like the Flat Stanley project with the Golly, and send him to friends around the world and get them to take photos of him in historic or interesting places?


    I also wonder what would happen if we could make Gollies in all colours and hair textures/styles? Would it take away some of the violence associated with the Gollies if they could represent mad ethnic, phenotypic and professional diversity? Like Ginger Gollies, Asian Gollies, Hispanic Gollies, Doctor Gollies, Astronaut Gollies, Princess Gollies, Faerie Gollies, Mermaid Gollies, Viking Gollies, Star Wars Gollies, etc. What I’m trying to articulate is, is there any way to #TakeBackTheGolly so that it is no longer used as a symbol of segregation, but could be transformed/reinvented to look like ANY child, [or no child at all]? You could fashion the Gollies to reflect the broad spectrum of skin tones of the human race, or even make blue or green or purple Gollies. With awesome sparkly hair, or mohawks, etc.

    The Manhattan Toy Company has a line of rag dolls called Groovy Girls which I encourage my 3 little girls to play with. They are a bit like this, they all have different hair colour, texture and style (though all made with yarn) and soft fabric for the skin and bodies in every skin tone out there, and interesting names, and friendly eyes. They are great for playing with and cuddling, and are not hyper-sexualized like Bratz or Barbie dolls, and they actually foster healthy self-image and promote diversity.

    But since the Golly traditionally was given very crude basic features, it differs significantly in intention from Groovy Girls dolls: The latter was intended to edify and uplift and encourage children, the former was meant to demean and belittle. What if Gollies kept their same basic shape and features, but we compelled them (and the people who sell them) to represent diversity?

    Be all like “Oh hey, Entitled White People/Children of Empire – yeah, this totally used to be used as a symbol to make me feel bad about myself, but we’re doing something different now, and it’s awesome. Tah…”


  8. It saddens me that, as someone who has a voice and influence, someone who is a representative of silent/silenced children, who cannot see their own faults/weaknesses and show a semblance of humility.

    If, as you proclaim, you wish to open a dialogue with, and educate others about issues such as discrimination and racism in whatever form, why do it using duplicitous, somewhat cowardly means?

    Had you behaved in an honest manner, with integrity (as you readily expect from others), this situation may not have backfired so badly. The power you have does indeed come with great responsibility.

    Integrity should be at the very root and a driving force behind the messages you convey, and especially how they are conveyed. We usually get back what we give. In this instance, your own actions have been mirrored for you in the backlash you received, sadly.

    See what has happened as an opportunity, not a setback. This may be a time for you to reflect, to understand yourself in a more honest, valuable and complete way. Try not to avoid, nor dismiss the criticism you’ve received, but examine it, attempt to understand it, most importantly, learn from it.

    Life is not simply a case of flat, black and white, it is rich, textured and oh so gloriously colourful.

  9. Give him to a child to love. When I was a little girl, I loved dolls and publicly carried them well past the appropriate age. The sight of a symbol of ignorance and division in the loving arms of an innocent, welcoming child should offer many an opportunity for conversation.

  10. I am an African immigrant who lives in the states. I didn’t grasp the idea of your first blog about these dolls as I have never known what they meant to represent. Actually, I thought they are kind of cute 🙂 all I am trying to say is, you make things what they want them to be. No shame in being a black person. If you ask me, Caucasians should be more offended by Barbie dolls than blacks by these dolls. I wasn’t there when you had a conversation with the shop owner and I can’t say you should have just let it go. It is good you wrote about it. But, it is even better if you stop giving these dolls more power.
    I don’t apologize for being black and I don’t need anyone’s permission to feel proud about it. Not a doll, not a history if slavery, not discrimination, nothing will make feel agitated … I know my history andthat history is bigger than a doll.I hope I make sense.
    All the best, brother.

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