Playmobil slave collar
The Playmobil toy company is facing backlash online.
The Canadian toy maker has claimed a dark-skinned figure wearing a neck shackle was meant to “represent a pirate who was a former slave in a historical context” after a mother complained that it was racist.
Ida Lockett of Sacramento, California, was horrified when she saw the instructions to her five-year-old son’s Playmobil pirate ship, which she said showed a slave with a neckpiece that looked similar to a slave collar.
The character, appearing to be dark-skinned, with black hair, no shoes and tattered pants, came with instructions to put a grey choker-like piece around its neck.
“This right here was found on his neck,” Lockett said.
“You cannot have this specific accessory and call it anything else,” Lockett said. “The fact that you can Google it, look it up, say what it is – it’s a slave collar.
“He was excited when he got it,” she said. “I spent the weekend putting it together.”
“It’s definitely racist,” she told local CBS TV. “It told my son to put a slave cuff around the black character’s neck, and then to play with the toy.”
“It’s a racist piece. It’s a racist toy,” she said.
Playmobil said that the toy was intended to portray life on a 17th-century pirate ship.
In a statement to the Washington Post, the company said: “If you look at the box, you can see that the pirate figure is clearly a crew member on the pirate ship and not a captive.
“The figure was meant to represent a pirate who was a former slave in a historical context. It was not our intention to offend anyone in anyway.”
The toy pirate ship, given to the five-year-old as a birthday present, comes with several figurines and also what Lockett describes as a “dungeon”, and can be found for around $90 at Toys ‘R’ Us, the large toy store.
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