Black Doll with Panda: Okay. Black Doll with Monkey: Not So Much.
The black baby doll wearing a "Lil' monkey" hat – and cuddling with a stuffed monkey – is no more.
The Associated Press reports that Costco has pulled the African-American version of the "Cuddle with Me, Doll with Plush Monkey" after receiving complaints about its possible racist connotations. The white and Hispanic Lil' monkeys are still available (not racist), as is the black doll cuddling a panda (also not racist).
"We are sensitive to any complaint that a product we carry would cause discomfort to any segment of our membership," Costco CEO Jim Sinegal said in a statement. "As soon as it became clear to us that this toy item was offensive to some of our members, we decided to remove it from our warehouses. We don't believe there is room for argument in matters of this type, even though it was an honest mistake, made while we were attempting to do the right thing."
This is the latest in a string of monkey references whose propriety has been debated: There was, if you recall, the New York Post cartoon back in February that depicted a crazed monkey, shot and bleeding on the ground, as the author of the economic stimulus bill, which was either a. a "clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut" and a broad mockery of Washington’s efforts to revive the economy, as the Post's editor-in- chief, Col Allan, said at the time, or b. a racially-hateful depiction of Barack Obama as a primate, as the Rev. Al Sharpton insisted.
(It could also have been c. a really dumb cartoon that kind of didn't even make sense and was in bad taste beyond any discussion of race, given that the crazed chimpanzee had actually killed a woman.)
It might be noted that George W. Bush was often compared to a monkey himself, given the way he, well, looked like a monkey. Someone even started a website asking "Bush or Chimp?" that posted pictures of the two, side by side. That, of course, was not racist.