memin penguin and his mother
lil black sambo and his mammy
i will not pretend to ignore the similarities in the two characters, but from what i've heard, memin's character is actually empowering and his comics are encouraging to some of mexico's poorest by giving children messages about how to deal with poverty, death, being tormented for their dark complexion, abandonment and many other issues. memin penguin is a staple of mexican comics and was even given a commemorative stamp.
if memin penguin is as positive as people say it is, that's beautiful but it still doesn't excuse the fact that they are using a depiction based on racist images of black people that were the dominant images in the 1940s when the comic first appeared. mickey mouse doesn't look the same way he did in 1928. i would suggest that they update memin so he actually looks like a child and not a monkey.
one surprising thing about the whole situation is how our culture of systemic racism here in the united states is exported to other countries. whites here in this country created the images of the sambo and the mammy, as well as the stereotypical images of latinos and asians as part of a white racial frame, and now we accept and even perpetuate them within our own communities and we also find examples of them being used in mexico and recall if you can the controversy of the image of the sambo being used to sell products in japan click here to see products. as a result, we have people of different cultures, who've often never had contact with blacks, who already perceive them as criminals, dirty, uneducated and other negative characteristics. that's a problem because it destroys attempts at solidarity between black americans and other minority or immigrant groups before we get the chance to acknowledge that we often have the same goals of asserting our humanity and be free from oppression