Selling black baby photos for profit and fun, and the church.

This is a rather delicate topic so in the normal nature of this here blog site we’ll just tackle it head on and if you’re easily offended by casual racism, well, you’ll be easily offended then.

Let me prefix this whole thing by using the phrase “This is what happened in the 1960s”, ok, got that, this was the 1960s, these were different times, times when casual racism was just casual and commonplace and wasn’t even called racism, it was just the way it was, for better or for worse.

OK ?

Lets get on with the story then.

Those who were schoolchildren in the 1960s and early 70s will by now, having read the title, be reading through their fingers and hoping and praying that this topic is not what they fear it is, well it is.

You see, when we were children at school we were encouraged, usually by church people, to sell little passport sized photographs of black babies in order to raise money for black babies, or the church in question, or both, but probably just the church.

It was usually the girls in the class who were given the little booklets of black baby photographs to sell for us boys just weren’t into all of that do-good churchy stuff, if asked I can definitely state that I would have thrown the black baby photograph book straight into the nearest bin, not on  a civil rights anti-racism stance, but only because I certainly would not have been arsed to sell the bloody things what with having better things to do and all that.

So it was the girls in the class who, at a certain time of year would stand in your way and thrust the small book of passport sized photos in your hand and demand that you buy one of their black babies to raise money for the church, and possibly for black babies, in Africa, possibly, or maybe just for the church. “You give me a penny” they’d demand, “and you get to pick a photo of a black baby”.

“Why?” you’d ask in all curiosity
“To raise money for black babies” they’d state in a ferocious way as if you should be ashamed of yourself for not knowing why, “or maybe the church” they’d add, “yes, definitely the church as well”

And if perchance you’d buy one, around the next corner would be another earnest young girl to demand that you buy one of their black baby photographs, “I just bought one” you’d protest, and they’d demand that you prove that you’d just bought one but of course you’d just thrown the black baby photo away and so couldn’t, so you’d have to buy another.

Its bizarre today to think that a church organisation would profit in such a way by sending a photographer out to one of its missions in Africa to take photos of its black babies to bring back to the UK to sell to people to raise money for themselves, I think we call it exploitation and the British Empire once made an Empire by doing similar things, except they brought back the whole baby to sell and not just the photo.

You can take your hands away from your eyes now baby boomers, it wasn’t our fault, we were just kids, I didn’t buy one anyway.


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