Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Florence K. Upton's


These decks contain images that may be considered
racially and ethnically offensive by today's standards. 

I made this deck because I love, without reserve, the stories and art of Florence K. Upton, and all of the characters in the books that she wrote and illustrated -- in the same way and for the same reasons that I love the Oz characters created by L. Frank Baum and the Raggedy Ann characters created by Johnny Gruelle. Because she failed to protect her work legally, other artists (less talented and considerably more mean-spirited) were able to co-opt her characters and present them in, to put it mildly, less flattering terms. This deck is not about any of those other iterations of the character. This deck is about the beautiful and good-hearted books created by Florence K. Upton.

Conversation is good. Anything that encourages the free exchange of ideas and opinions is good. These images are both striking and controversial, not the least because there are reasonable people standing on both sides of the issue, all over the world. I ask people to look past their own preconceptions and to see the positive messages contained in these images.

bigot |ˈbiɡət|
a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions

A few shrill voices are trying to force me to discontinue publishing this deck. They are basing their hatred upon an entire history of racial imagery, and refusing to examine Ms. Upton's work on its own merits, refusing to look beneath the surface, refusing to look at the CHARACTER behind the COLOR. This, to me, is the definition of True Racism. 

Political Correctness has a definite and positive role to play in LIFE, where it is otherwise known as THE GOLDEN RULE. But -- Political Correctness has NO role to play in ART, where it is otherwise known as Censorship. Please note that I believe Censorship is as great an Evil as Bigotry; and possibly a greater one, because it encourages Bigotry and is in fact the preferred tool of Bigots, Fascists and other people the world over who want nothing more than to deny history and prevent free and open discourse. Whatever you feel about the content of this deck, censorship is not and can not be the answer. Decide for yourself how YOU feel, and then allow others the same privilege.  

In his book Buy Golly! (New Cavendish Books, 2005), author Clinton Derricks writes, "If people disagree with a product, they have to learn to deal with it in a mature and adult way. A ban infringes on artists' rights to express themselves freely." I highly recommend Derricks's book to all, as it does not fail to look at all the profound issues associated with the Golliwogg. Derricks is an African-American actor and musician who has been collecting golliwogg and black memorabilia for over thirty years. In the forward to his book, he writes: "The golliwog's links with slavery and racial prejudice may prove to be unpalatable and uncomfortable to some, though I stand by my every word. My affection for the golliwog is not based purely on artistic appreciation, but derives from love and respect for my culture and its historical associations. Everyone has their reasons for loving or disliking golliwogs and we should recognise that we are all entitled to our own opinions."