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.