Blackboy Clock: Stroud statue a ‘cast-iron Golliwog’

Blackboy Clock is a cast-iron ‘Golliwog’, writes Florence Nyasamo-Thomas, founder of Lives of Colour, a Gloucestershire-based organisation which fosters inclusion in businesses and communities through education, events and training.

The symbolism and imagery immediately reminded me of the paintings I have repeatedly seen when visiting museums of subservient Black children placed at the bottom of the painting under their masters.

What does this statue tell people around me about the position of Black people in society? What is it telling the children passing under it every day as they go in and out of the nearby school gates?

If my children were attending that school, I would feel uncomfortable, you can’t avoid it. It would require a conversation.

It’s a cast-iron ‘Golliwog’, a ‘Pickaninny’ and it should not be thoughtlessly on display; it should be in a museum.

It’s not about erasing history, it’s about understanding history and being comfortable with talking about it. Slavery is an uncomfortable topic – as is an iconic image of a Pickaninny child caricature – but people need to learn, to be comfortable with the conversations around it, and only education can do that.

I believe this will not be possible with the statue in its current position because it is in a place where it is condoned.

Stroud Against Racism bringing this to light has meant that we can start having these conversations and educating our children and communities.

Better still, if this could be placed in a museum and the history around it collected and shared, there will be much more to be gained from it to make our society more resilient and accepting of differences.

Florence Nyasamo-Thomas is the founder of Lives of Colour, the Nowans Community Trust, Black History Month Gloucestershire, and the former chair of the African Community Foundation Gloucestershire.

You can take part in Stroud District Council‘s consultation on the future of Blackboy Clock here.

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