German Theologian Calls Pippi Longstocking Books Racist

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

I’m not sure what surprises me more… that Pippi Longstocking is being brought up or that there is new controversy on the books being deemed racist?  That’s what the German theologian, Dr. Eske Wollrad, from the Federal Association of Evangelical Women in Germany is stirring up in the German media.

The popular Pippi Longstocking children’s books were written in the 1940’s by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, and they quickly became a hit around the world.  When the books were written, the world was a very different place culturally and there are several references to black children that reflect colonial racist stereotypes.

Wollrad is urging the publishers to add footnotes to the racist sections of the book to guide readers and put the racist terms into context.  She told The Local that …

I would certainly not condemn the book completely – on the contrary, there are many very positive aspects to the book, as well as being very funny, it is instructive for children as it not only has a strong female character, she is against adultism, grown-ups being in charge, and she is fiercely opposed to violence against animals – there is a very strong critique of authority in the book.

The question to ask yourself is whether you could read a certain passage out loud to a black child without stopping or stumbling, only then can you say whether it is okay or not.

© Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se

While Wollrad is at least not pushing for a complete ban on the classic books, what happens to all the other classic literature that has racist undertones?  There is something to learn from these books and they show us how far we have come as a society.  I recall reading the Pippi Longstocking books as a child and I can honestly say that it didn’t cause any confusion or make me look at African-Americans in a negative way.  Perhaps parents can take an interest in what their children are reading and guide them if they have questions, but maybe that is yet another change in today’s society.

 

Source: The Local

Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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