Racial Innocence in Oompa Loompas

In the original 1964 publication of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, the Oompa Loompas are not Oompa Loompas at all, but instead they are described as a tribe of three thousand ‘regular’ African Pygmies that were imported by Wonka from “the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had been before.” They come to replace the tired white workers because they were willing to work for Charlie in exchange for free chocolate (since they had only eaten beetles and barks of the bong-bong tree). The original illustrations depict a group of black guys, barely clothed, laughing hysterically; and the change is only made in 1973, when the publisher Knopf insists on changes. The new editions changed the tireless and loyal servants of Wonka into small looking hippies with ‘golden hair and rosy-white skin,’ then later to multicolored futuristic punks.



A large part of inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was based on actual events involving real chocolate companies. Dahl knew what was actually happening— cacao plantation workers in Ivory Coast (World’s biggest producer of chocolate) were practically enslaved African children. However, he was able to utilize Racial Innocence to mask the truly cruel reality. Because he took something everyone loved— delicious chocolate— and made a fantasy out of it, readers overlooked the severely racist implications that came with the famed Children’s Book.


“The 6 Most Secretly Racist Classic Children’s Books.”Cracked.com. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

The Infamous Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

It is evident that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory contains Oompa-Loompas-1964-1973racist intentions behind the narrative when analyzed closely. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has various impressions on the world. Some people might remember the story because of the golden ticket, Willy Wonka himself, the chocolate factory, or maybe even the Oompa Loompas. The story is about a poor boy who manages to get his hands on one of the last 5 “golden tickets” that allows access to a tour of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. Throughout his tour of the factory he has many encounters with the Oompa Loompas who are described as multi colored clown looking dwarfs. In Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory’s original storyline (before it’s publication in the US and the UK) the Oompa Loompas were initially described and illustrated as little black pygmy people that were taken from central Africa and into this giant chocolate factory to work for little to no compensation. This Scene recreates the image of how slaves were introduced to the United States and forced to work in factories, farms. The Oompa Loompas serve as an example of the racial innocence found in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The narrative to the story was revised and republished in the 1970s even though the original narrative was introduced in the 1960’s. Only about a decade later, after having been revised to change the interpretation of the little dwarfs, the storyline was declared “innocent” and suitable for children.



“RoaldDahlFans.com – Books – “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” Politically Correct Oompa-Loompa Evolution.” RoaldDahlFans.com – Books – “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” Politically Correct Oompa-Loompa Evolution. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <http://www.roalddahlfans.com/books/charoompa.php>


“Inanna Arthen – The Vampires of New England Series – Blog.” Rewriting the Rules. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <http://inannaarthen.com/blog/>


Racial Innocence

Chocolate Me!” is a book about a young boy who looks differents from the other young boys in his neighborhood. His skin is darker and his hair is more poofy. He is teased by the other children and is brought to tears because he wants to fit in. He feels different from everyone else. His mother tries to console him by telling him his skin is, “velvet fudge frosting mixed in a bowl” to which he responds, “Chocolate Me!” It puts a spin on bullying and turns it into self love and acceptance. This book also shows how children tend to make fun of those that look different or are different. Many people who are not children struggle with being different or looking different from others.



How 6 to 8 Black “Helpers” become Reindeers

On Ruining Christmas: Whitesplaining and Racism and Why I can’t celebrate anymore fake holidays

When Aisha Harris’ demands that our image of Santa be more appropriate and inclusive, she suggests we make find a penguin to represent the historically gift giving figure. I’ve heard a derivative of this argument before: through video games, researchers found that, humans relate more to non-human representations of ourselves (i.e. zombies and, by extension, other mutated forms of living things). For me, this resonates with the story behind Saint Nick in the Netherlands. In Six To Eight Black Men which sounds like David Sedaris in stand up, the author fails to recognize the evolution of Santa’s elves. Violent black bodies that perform at the behest of a weakly white man…sounds really racist and a lot like the literary byproduct of the stereotypes reinforced through colonialism. The story becomes more amiable in the 1950s when the relationship turns into a “friendship”: removing it from its original master-slave dynamic.

Sedaris, David. “Six to Eight Black Men”. St. Nicholas Center. Web. 12 December http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/sedaris/


Racial Innocence in “The Story of Dr. Dolittle”

“The Story of Dr. Dolittle” was written and illustrated by Hugh Lofting. This is a story about a man who is a physician who lives in a small village.  He becomes so caught up in his love for animals that he eventually scares off his human patients for them.  His pet parrot teaches him how to talk to animals and with this gift he communicates with animals so much that he become a veterinarian.  During this story Dr. Dolittle goes on a journey with his favorite animal friends.  So far, most of the story line is innocent in as such that a child reader will be engaged mainly by fantasy elements of animals that can talk to each other and now a human being like themselves.  The part that become racial is the use of derogatory language and illustrations when referencing black people from the original book.  There are versions of the book that revised these terms and also the pictures removed.  Also another racial point in the story when Dr. Dolittle gets captured but is then helped by a Prince who requests that in exchange for his ship, Dr. Dolittle should bleach the Prince’s face white so that he can fulfill his desire to act as a European fairy tale Prince.  The entire book is not intentionally written to be racist, however these subtle references imply so.  I also find it ironic that the movie version of this story features a Black man (Eddie Murphy) acting as Dr. Dolittle.


Lofting, Hugh. The Story of Doctor Dolittle. United Kingdom: Frederick K. Stokes, 1920. Print.




Racial Innocence – “If I Ran the Zoo” by Dr.Seuss

Dr.Seuss is widely known for his racist political cartoons of the Japanese and sometimes Germans (Hitler, nazis, etc..) during World War II. However, many people are oblivious to the racist depictions within his literature for children. For instance, the children’s book “If I Ran the Zoo” is undeniably racist, but the racism is hidden beneath the grand idea of traveling around the world to bring different and rare animals. The concept of gathering animals (sometimes people) from all over the world would make the ideal zoo kids could only dream of. However, in each of these adventures to different countries, Dr.Seuss does not fail to include racist and stereotypical remarks about people living in these countries. The story makes fun of Asians having slanted eyes, jokes about Russian names ending in ‘sky’ or ‘ski’, and depicts Africans as funny looking black monkeys in tutus. The story has so much hidden racism that kids would often ignore or be oblivious to because of the many fabricated animals Dr.Seuss introduces and the nonsensical plot of the story.

“1950 – If I Ran the Zoo – Dr. Seuss.” Scribd. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2015. .


Racial Innocence (The Wiz)

With The Wiz recently airing live as a play, it began to stir up some controversy. The question being raised the most was “Why is there an all black cast?” The wiz stems from The Wizard of Oz (1939). The movie features a girl (Dorothy) on a journey to meet the wiz for help after a storm causes her and her dog to be displaced. Along the way she meets characters (scarecrow, lion and tin man) who also seek help from the wiz. During the time this was filmed, African Americans were still fighting for rights. There was no controversy surrounding the making of this movie. It is child friendly with catchy songs for children to sing along to. In 1978, The Wiz was created as an adaptation to the Wizard of Oz capturing the essence of African American experience. It retold the Wizard of Oz in context of African American Culture. It hides that it is relatable for all races. Children aren’t born with black vs white and racist thoughts. It is something learned. The films depict happy groups of friends on a journey.


“The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for FreedomThe Segregation Era (1900–1939).” The Segregation Era (1900–1939). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.

“The Wiz.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.



Frog Princess Vs. Frozen: Racial Innocence in Disney Princess Films

“Frozen” took America by storm. It is the highest grossing animated film of all time; Coming in at 1.6 billion dollars in revenue. Children all over the world ate the film up like candy. It was all the things we expect from a Disney princess animation: it was magical, well-written, fun, and it left out African Americans. When I saw “Frozen”, I couldn’t help but think “Where are all the black people.” African American characters only, barely, appeared in the background, hidden in crowds of people. But, it isn’t the lack of black faces in the film that tells us something about Disney’s racist agenda. It is the presence of black people in specific, racially driven roles that help us think about the role that Disney feels they play in real life.

A good place to look at this would be “The Princess and the Frog”, which is Disney’s first, and only, attempt of including an African American heroine in their princess franchise. The movie is set in 1912 Louisiana, a few decades after the Civil War. The story doesn’t start until our heroine, Tiana, gets a gig catering an event held by her mother’s former employer, Eli, who is white. In return for her services, he agrees to pay Tiana enough money to buy a sugar mill to open her dream restaurant. The idea that an African American woman in 1912 becomes able to open her own business through the donation of a white man is a fantasy itself. But, due to a course of events including voodoo, a risky gamble, and a kiss, Tiana becomes a frog and stays in her frog form for a majority of the film. What the most fantastical about the film is that Tiana’s best friend is Eli’s entitled daughter, Charlotte. Charlotte is the total opposite of Tiana in every way. She grew up knowing that Tiana was below her; and even through all their degrees of separation, Tiana and Charlotte remain close. In fact, she is Tiana’s only human friend. The only other friends Tiana has are the animals in the bayou. Disney chose only the things they liked about black culture to include in the film: their history of servitude, southern jargon, and jazz but glossed over real racial issues that existed  during that time. Then, they slapped on dark skin on a character with mainly European features, turned her into a frog, and called it a magical story. Ironically, the only real magic used in the story is dark magic, voodoo.

With all that in mind, it is still important to think about the main differences between “Frozen”and “The Princess and the Frog”. Why did the latter gross only a fraction of the revenue than the former? The answer could be that Tiana isn’t really a Disney princess. Yes, by law, because of her marriage to Prince Naveen, she is legally a princess. But, her happy ending, which every Disney princess is entitled to, included a new husband and her going back home to her restaurant that she outright purchased in the first place. Her curse was not broken by love, or magical trolls, but by a legal ceremony. Tiana had to work for her “happy ending”, she did not come across it by luck. In the end, there is no grand palace to call home, her royal title means almost nothing, and all she has secured for herself is a place she has to work at for the rest of her life. She did not end up in a magical land, an enchanted forest, or any of the places we usually see princess films take place, but back in segregated America. All I can see is Disney’s racially driven goal, to keep young black girls  feeling as though they should be content in their lives with a job and a husband. To them, there are no real magical possibilities for African Americans.  Although, many believe that The Princess and the Frog was a major stride for the Disney princess franchise, it is simply a frog dressed in gowns.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there is a clear description of and introduction to the goblins at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. In the book, the goblins are described as having “swarthy, clever face[s], a pointed beard…very long fingers and feet”. While this description in the book in and of itself doesn’t necessarily convey a specific race, the way that the goblins are described in the movie can be defiantly considered a racial depiction.  Look at the picture below for a visual representation of the goblins:


The goblins, especially as they are depicted in the movies, are virtually all hook-nosed, short, and unattractive. They also perpetuate a stereotype that the Jewish population has been considered a part of, which is that their involvement with the financial sector.

The allusions to race don’t exist only in the movies, however. Professor Binns, as the professor of History of Magic, alludes to the oppression of the goblin race for many years which has led to segregation, exclusion, and revolts. The references to the entirety of the Jewish race are too blatant to ignore. There are many stereotypes shared by the goblins with the Jewish population, from their appearance to their description.

The text communicates innocence to this entire idea because we are in a different world, first of all. Harry Potter is a children’s book set in a fantasy world where this kind of thing is commonplace: goblins do indeed look like this. According to Rowling, this isn’t a racist depiction, but an accurate depiction of what the bankers of Gringotts Wizarding Bank might actually look like. This is the fantasy world.


Works Cited:

Picture: https://www.google.com/search?q=gringotts&espv=2&biw=784&bih=767&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi6n7u608rJAhXMqx4KHdaCARwQ_AUIBigB#tbm=isch&q=gringotts+goblin&imgrc=dOjPEDtw0ulTYM%3A

Rowling, J. K. “Diagon Alley.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic Corporation, 1997. 100-01. Print.


Racial Innocence- C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis’ chronicles of Narnia is guilty of racial innocence in his famous Chronicles of Narnia series. Although the books are meant for slightly older children, they are certainly read by and read to children of elementary school age. C.S. Lewis mentions an army/group of people called the Calormenes first in his book “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

Calor in spanish means “color,” and is a very distinct cognate. The Calormenes are described in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treading” to, “have dark faces and long beards. They wear flowing robes and orange-coloured turbans, and they are a wise, wealthy, courteous, cruel and ancient people.” Although the Calormenes themselves are not slaves, slavery is mentioned just three sentences later when Prince Caspian says, “That is only fair, sirs,” said Caspian. “Every man who has bought a slave to-day must have his money back. Pug, bring out your takings to the last minim.”

C.S. Lewis is essentially calling the Calormenes, “colored people” which clearly has racist undertones to it although it may not be completely overt. The fact that they wear long, flowing robes like Ancient African people further preserves the idea that the racism is innocent, but certainly still present. Referring to slavery just three short sentences after introducing and describing the Calormenes subconsciously links the ideas of darker skin with slavery involvement in a way that was really not necessary to the story line, or could have been introduced in a different manner.

Work Cited:
Lewis, C., & Baynes, P. (1994). What Caspian Did There. In The voyage of the Dawn Treader. New York: HarperCollins.