Jeff “Podunk” Pelline reports that he and the missus recently had lunch with my fellow The Union columnist Hilary Hodge and her wife. (Just to show he doesn’t hold a grudge, he hosted the affair at the New Moon Cafe, an outfit that has yet to advertise in his magazine.)
Podunk reports that everything went swimmingly. In fact, he sounded down right avuncular when he pulled out his arsenal of clichés to write: “Hilary and Angelica reminded us of ourselves when we were younger–‘footloose and fancy free’ or the ‘Gold Dust Twins’ as my dad would joke.”
That’s the kind of knee slapper I would expect to hear at someplace like Golden Empire nursing home. (Are you a member of AARP yet, Jeffy? You’re old enough to join.) But what I really found shocking–particularly for a self-proclaimed progressive–was his insensitive use of the term Gold Dust Twins.
While the term is generally used these days to describe two individuals working closely together for a common goal, its origin is much uglier. The original Gold Dust Twins, “Goldie” and “Dusty,” were trademarked characters use by Fairbank’s Gold Dust Washing Powder in print advertising starting as early as 1892.
The ads showed the two black children doing household chores together, and reflected the racial stereotypes of the times. They even appeared as vaudeville characters in an act known as “Cora and her Gold Dust Twins,” featuring Tim Moore, who played George “Kingfish” Stevens in the TV version of “Amos ‘n’ Andy,” another insensitive example of racial stereotyping.
Atlanta Black Star magazine called the ad campaign one of the “10 Most Racist Ads of All Time in American History.” And to think Pelline calls himself a progressive! This is the sort of insensitivity I expect from Todd “I Can See My Willy” Juvinall.