Fireworks Used to be Insane (and Hella Racist)
I love me some fireworks. I always have. I remember from my childhood, this would be in the 1970s, that some of the fireworks had names that would be considered offensive by today’s standards. Not because we’ve gotten too sensitive but because they were, you know, ACTUALLY VERY RACIST! These weren’t just the slang terms for the explosives. They were actually part of the packaging not all that long ago.
Here’s one from yesteryear that makes the Washington ***skin mascot look like a safe-space workshop at Oberlin College:
Not “Red Indian” or even “Red Injun”. “REDINJUN”…all one word.
Did you know that fireworks were first invented over a thousand years ago in China?
Also invented in China: not having to spend your shore leave walking everywhere on your own legs. The actual fireworks in this package were made in China but the Hitt Fireworks Co. was a British company and the package design was done there. This drawing seems needlessly cruel. If you’re going to depict a Chinese man hauling a lazy sailor around couldn’t you at least draw him some SHOES??
There are some that argue that white people can’t be the victims of racist caricatures. This package of blow-em-ups seem to argue to the contrary.
Sure, “Cracker” can refer to a firecracker but if you put “Geo’gia” and a shiftless looking, shoeless hillbilly on the front it seems pretty blatantly stereotypical. Also, that poor bearded gentleman is about to get blown up right in the middle of a nap. The instructions at the bottom clearly say “lay on GROUND “ and “get away quickly” not “put on your Pa’s genitals and get away quickly”. It’s a real mixed-message, safety-wise. Also, that kid should have at least waited until the dog wasn’t snout level with the fuse!
This next one isn’t racist, per se. But I can easily spot a couple of BIG problems with it.
Right off the bat I’m almost positive that the Kwong Hing Tai Fireworks Concern DID NOT secure the licensing rights to King Kong from RKO.
Secondly, in what upside down bizzaro version of reality did King Kong have wings?!? At first I thought maybe they changed the character design just enough to skirt around the copy write but they CLEARLY reference King Kong by name in big red letters. This just makes NO sense. If King Kong had wings he wouldn’t have gotten cornered at the top of the Empire State Building. DUH!
Finally, I KNEW I wasn’t imagining this from my childhood.
What better way for small children to have “Real Fun for Patriotic 4th of July” than with hateful racial slurs?
It all looks innocent enough…until you read the fine print. It’s circled in red but if you still can’t make it out…well, I can’t write what it actually says. But, let’s just say one of the Young American Assortment rhymes with “Jigger Shnaser”.
Ah, nostalgia. No wonder so many white people have it.