Danish toy firm answers ‘too white’ criticism

After a Swedish advocacy group accuses Top-Toy's catalogues of not being diverse enough, a company spokeswoman tells The Local that its customers should be able to identify with its catalogues.

Danish toy firm answers 'too white' criticism
Top Toy said toys with the dark-skinned Doc McStuffins are hot sellers. Screenshot: BR/Top Toy
Danish toy company Top-Toy says it will “look into” the criticism from a Swedish advocacy group that its Christmas catalogues are “too white”.
Swedish campaign group Equalisters, which aims to correct imbalances of ethnic minority and gender representation in media, criticised four Swedish toy catalogues, including two from the Denmark-based Top-Toy, for not reflecting diversity. 
"These catalogues are too white. I think it's really sad for non-white children," Equalisters chairperson Seher Yilmaz told The Local’s team in Stockholm.
Top-Toy says that it has heard the criticism and will take it into consideration. 
“Lately, we have been criticised for not having enough diversity in our BR Toys and Toys R Us catalogues in terms of models and dolls of different skin colour. As always when we receive input from customers, we will look into this. Our aim is that our catalogues reflect the demands of our markets and the society we are part of,” the company said in a statement
Speaking to The Local, Top-Toy spokesperson Liselotte Gjerdrum Carlsen said that “we always appreciate feedback from our customers and take into consideration that our customers should be able to identify themselves with our catalogues”. 
“It’s important to reflect the demands of the market and the society we are part of and that is also what we try to do,” Carlsen said. 

Carlsen pointed to changes Top-Toy made over the past years when its catalogues were among the first to reject gender stereotypes
“The debate over gender-neutral toys started in Sweden and was later picked up in Denmark, the UK and the US. We have now implemented that into all of our catalogues,” she said. 
“We now have both boys and girls playing with the same toys, and many different age groups so that everyone is given the opportunity to play with the toys of their own choice,” Carlsen added. 

Top-Toy’s statement did not commit to any concrete changes in future catalogues, but pointed to the success of toys based on the character Doc McStuffins, a dark-skinned girl who gives health check-ups to her stuffed animals. According to Top-Toy, Doc McStuffins items are already hot sellers in their catalogues for BR and Toys R Us. 
Top-Toy is headquartered in Tune, just outside of Roskilde and is represented in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Germany.  
In addition to the catalogues for BR and Toys R Us, the Swedish group Equalisters also criticised the catalogues for Leklust and Lekia

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Danish politician target of racist abuse outside parliament

Member of the Danish parliament Sikandar Siddique and his parents were the target of racist verbal abuse during the assembly’s annual reopening day on Tuesday.

Danish MP Sikandar Siddique in parliament earlier this year. Siddique and his parents endured a racist verbal attack near Christiansborg on October 5th.
Danish MP Sikandar Siddique in parliament earlier this year. Siddique and his parents endured a racist verbal attack near Christiansborg on October 5th. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen later condemned the incident in a social media post.

Siddique and his parents were accosted by a man wearing a t-shirt bearing the words “Fuck Islam” as left the parliament at Christiansborg.

The man told Siddique, along with his mother and 82-year-old father to “go home”. The incident was recorded on a video published by tabloid newspaper BT.

“Aren’t you planning to go home soon? You can take your parents with you, or whatever it is. Your Arabic culture has no place in Denmark, you’re not welcome here,” the man shouts in the video.

Siddique was born in Copenhagen and does not have Arabic heritage. His parents are originally from Pakistan.

Frederiksen subsequently strongly condemned the incident in a Facebook post.

“(Siddique) was yesterday subjected to an unheard-of racist attack right outside Christiansborg. That’s bad enough in itself. But what’s worse is that elderly parents were also subjected to an entirely unfair and boorish confrontation,” the PM wrote.

“I’m so upset about it that I will this evening ask parliament to reject the episode in unity. A racist attack on a family is an attack on all minorities. It has no place in Denmark,” she continued.

“And an attack on a democratically elected politician is an attack on democracy itself. Neither does this have any place in Denmark. My thoughts today go especially to Sikandar’s parents,” she added.

Siddique, a former member of the Alternative party who now sits as an independent, but is political spokesperson with the recently formed Independent Green Party, expressed his thanks after several political colleagues from both sides of the ideological divide pronounced their support.

“A thousand thanks for all the warm messages after what happened yesterday. It means very much, both for my parents and for me. We are fine under the circumstances and the police are now on the case,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Danish parliamentarians split off to form ‘green, anti-racist party’