Politician Backs Ban On ’Sambo’ Image
Member of the European Parliament Claude Moraes has tabled a question to the body’s powerful Commission in support of top citizen journalism website The-Latest.Com’s campaign to get two leading sweet manufacturers to remove racist images from their products. This follows a move by the Ombudsman for Minorities in Finland to refer Fazer and Brunberg to an industry standards body in a dispute over the controversial images of Black people used on their sweet packets. There is big opposition inside and outside the country to the ’Sambo’ cartoon-style picture shown on Fazer liquorice and Brunberg’s ’nigger kiss’ sweet packets. The initiative has become more urgent because Finland takes over the presidency of the racially-diverse European Union in July.
Fazer and Brunberg have stubbornly refused to remove racially stereotypical pictures on their products.
So the country’s Ombudsman for Minorities, Mikko Puumalainen, has referred the case to the Consumer Agency, because he is not satisfied with the responses he got from Fazer and Brunberg during his investigation of a complaint from Black Finn Marc Wadsworth. Editor of The-Latest Mr Wadsworth questioned the message the racially offensive imagery sent out about Black people to impressionable Finnish youngsters.
He said: “To my eye, the Sambo image either creates, or at the very least perpetuates, a negative stereotype held in society that Black people are in some way ’primitive’ compared to white ethnic Finns. The same point also applies to the designs used by Brunberg’s kisses (Brunbergin suukot), which were called Neekerin pusut (Nigger’s kisses) until a few years ago, and also Peliko’s Black Pekka children’s playing cards.”
Mr Wadsworth, founder of the British Anti-Racist Alliance, added: “The image of a Black face, mouth agape, bright red lips and bushy hair, is certainly not flattering and has long been deemed unacceptable in the US, UK and Sweden.” The campaign to remove the offending images from sweet packets has won support from high-profile Black people in Finland like U.S. basketball star Larry Pounds who said such marketing would not be allowed in America. Chart-topping Black Finn Raymond Ebanks, of Bomfunk MCs, has also condemned the products.
Mr Puumalainen said, in an email to Wadsworth, that he thought “the format of the wrapping papers can be considered as doubtful in relation to ethnic equality and that the format of the wrapping papers may offend black people.”
According to the Ombudsman the long time use of a certain wrapping paper does not as such make the usage acceptable. Neither does the wish to continue a tradition by using a certain kind of wrapping make the usage of the wrapping in question acceptable in these cases.
He added: “Companies should also promote good ethnic relations in society and the usage of these kinds of wrapping papers does not do that.”
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