Nikita Richardson
October 09, 2015 9:40 am

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that toys and other playthings can inform the way a person grows up to see the world, whether it’s little black girls who have their perception of beauty warped by playing with dolls that don’t look like them or little boys who are told that, according to gender norms, pink toys should only be played with by little girls.

Luckily, many of today’s parents are paying closer attention to the types of toys they let their children play with, including one California parent who recently took issue with a new Playmobil pirate ship set her son received for his 5th birthday.

According to Ida Lockett, who is black herself, she noticed while putting the pirate ship together that the instructions called for her to attach a shackle to the neck of a dark-skinned figurine. What’s more, the figurine is outfitted in ripped clothing and is wearing no shoes.

“It’s definitely racist,” Lockett told CBS Sacramento. “It told my son to put a cuff around the black character’s neck and then to play with the toy.”

In a statement, Playmobil said, in a statement to the Washington Post, that the toy set was built to resemble a 17th century pirate ship and that the character in question “was a former slave in a historical context.” “If you look at the box, you can see that the pirate figure is clearly a crew member on the pirate ship and not a captive,” the company said. “It was not our intention to offend anyone in anyway.”    

As the Post points out, some people are saying that Ms. Lockett and any other parents should be either accept the toy for what it is (or throw out the offending character) or allow their children to apply their own imagination and storytelling to the toy set since that’s more or less a kid’s job.

Meanwhile, Toys ‘R Us, the store where the ship in question was purchased, has lowered the price of the toy set from $89 to $62.99 without offering any explanation as to their reasoning, though it may be an attempt to get the ships off their shelves—and out of the public eye—as swiftly as possible.

(Images via Twitter)

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