2000-02-05 / Columnists

From The G-Man...Gary Toms

From The G-Man

'Pokemon' And The Race Card

Hey people! I have a few things to cover this week, so let me get right down to business. A major craze has engulfed the country, and it’s called Pokemon. This franchise has made millions of dollars from movies, games and the ever-popular trading cards. Personally, I’m a little sick of these cards because my girlfriend’s son has them laid out all over the place at times. The G-man was not thrilled to wake up one morning and find "Pikachu" up his butt! That may seem comical, but I have found something that many will not think is funny at all.

I’m sure that by now you’ve noticed the two pictures that were printed in this week's edition. Those pictures were printed with the cooperation of The Wave, and I want to thank them for having the "testicular fortitude" in doing so. These pictures represent horrible and disgusting images of the past. Whatever you chose to call them, "jiggaboos", "pickaninnys" or "sambos", they are painful reminders in African-American history, and these are pictures of items that are actually on the market today. Golliwogs" are the two dolls that depict African-Americans in the classic stereotype. Working in tandem with an image consulting firm, The WREC Group, it was discovered that these dolls are popular domestically and internationally. To add insult to injury, they even have conventions to sell and trade these dolls, and it’s not people of color that are buying and trading. This was exposed when an undercover investigation was done, at one of the conventions, by Kenneth Wright; founder of The WREC Group. Moreover, and this is the icing on the cake, the person who created these dolls is the same man who created Disney’s Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin dolls; R. John Wright. How ironic is that?

The next picture is of a character in the Pokemon trading card series. The name of the character is called, if you can believe this, "Jynx". I found out about this card totally by accident. Jeffrey, my girlfriend’s son, was fumbling with a deck of the Pokemon cards one day, and all of a sudden this one fell from the deck. I thought it was strange that this one was the only one to fall, so I picked it up to look at it. I guess you can pretty much figure out what my reaction was. I showed it to a number of people, consisting of parents and individuals, because I wanted to be sure that I was not reading more into this than I should, and they were appalled as well. I had a number of kids tell me that this was the "bad" card, and nobody would trade for it because it was regarded as evil. None of the other cards come close to looking like this one, and you cannot dismiss the fact that it bares resemblance to the Golliwogs. Also, it is a well known fact that symbols like this are very popular in Asian countries, but we won’t go there in this edition. I would need ten pages for that.

In all fairness to the Pokemon reps, I did try to contact them for comment, but my attempts were unsuccessful. I even tried to get the major networks to look into this with me, but you know what they said? They said it wasn’t newsworthy! Every single, sorry one of them! Lynn Brown, of Good Day NY, was working hard to help me get the story out, but the execs said they did not want to touch it. What a bunch of cowards! It

was newsworthy when the Anti-Defamation League, along with other Jewish organizations, got the executives at Pokemon to pull one card off the market because it had a swastika on it! They’re not going to like me for saying this, but I contacted The Rainbow Coalition/Operation Push, the NAACP and The National Urban League too. I got nothing! Hey guys,

thanks a "freakin" lot!

Many will look at these pictures and be offended, and others will act as though it is not a big deal. I beg to differ. I’m not saying that R. John Wright, or the people at Pokemon, are deliberately marketing racist images, but I do think more consideration needs to be given in regard to the images they choose to sell and make a profit from. To those who lived through the Jim Crow period, there is nothing entertaining or amusing about these images.

I was contacted by a staff member here at The Wave, and they had pointed something out to me about a piece I wrote last week. I had stated that Denzel Washington and Halle Berry were dissed at the Golden Globe Awards this year because neither received a standing ovation for their brilliant performances. I was told that Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, upon introducing the film "The Hurricane", did receive a standing ovation from those in attendance. I’m not sure how I missed that one, perhaps I took a bathroom break, but if that is true, then I have to give "props" to all those who acknowledged him. However, the fact still remains that Halle Berry did not receive the proper credit she deserved, and the industry still has major obstacles to overcome in dealing with the issue of racism in Hollywood.

You can hit me up at GeeMan1025 @aol.com

for comments, and I’ll see you next week "peeps".

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