Local African dolls outselling Barbie in Nigeria

I don’t personally have a big history of playing with dolls, and as a large, bearded male who enjoys violent sports, I might not even be the sort of customer that doll manufacturers have in mind when creating their products. I’m not really offended by that. But a story that didn’t sit as well with me comes from Nigeria, where, one day, Taofick Okoya’s daughter told him that she wished she was white. The comment didn’t sit well with Okoya either, and instead of lamenting the lack of dolls who could make his daughter feel content in her own skin, he got to work.

“All the dolls in the house were all white, and I was like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s a problem,’ ” Okoya said. “Because when you load a child with all this, it becomes an acceptable form of … how you should look. And so I thought, I want to use my dolls to teach Nigerian culture, African culture.”


Seth Godin’s blog – On feeling like a failure

Feeling like a failure has little correlation with actually failing. There are people who have failed more times than you and I can count, who are happily continuing in their work. There are others who have achieved more than most of us can imagine, who go to work each day feeling inadequate, behind, and yes, like failures and frauds. These are not cases of extraordinary outliers. In fact, external data is almost useless in figuring out whether or not someone is going to adopt the narrative of being a failure. Failure (as seen from the outside) is an event. It’s a moment when the spec isn’t met, when a project isn’t completed as planned …


Neil Thompson’s Lesson for Living – Make full use of support

Sadly there are many people who seem to feel that they can – or at least should – get through life without support. For many people, asking for support is seen as a weakness, as if only inadequate people need – or ask for – support. This sort of stoic or ‘macho’ approach is both ill-founded and potentially dangerous. We need to be very clear that this perspective on support is something we need to move away from.

A major part of the problem is that western societies tend to be characterised by a strong emphasis on individualism, and this involves a conception of each of us as a more or less fully independent, autonomous individual. This is set up as some sort of ideal, resulting in any need for support potentially being seen as less than ideal – as a form of failure, in a sense …


Neil Thompson’s Lesson for Living – Beware of Stereotypes

A stereotype is a distorted and often exaggerated depiction of some aspect of reality. As such, stereotypes are potentially very dangerous because they can influence our thoughts, feelings and actions in misleading ways. Confusing an oversimplified and distorted picture of something with the complex, multi-level reality it actually represents is clearly not a wise step to take.

So far, so straightforward, but what is often not realised is that (i) stereotypes are far more prevalent than people generally realise; and (ii) they work both ways – that is, we can both stereotype others and be stereotyped by others …



Book Review: Sociology of the American Indian by Gerry R. Cox

Guest post by Dr Sue Thompson

The discriminatory treatment of minority groups is something that still exercises us to this day, but it has a long history. A significant part of this history is the way Native American nations were displaced and marginalised by the European settlers. Much has changed since those early days, but the legacy of those events is still with us. In this important text, sociologist Professor Gerry Cox provides a fascinating and thought-provoking overview of a range of key issues relating to the life experiences of contemporary American Indian groups. At over 600 pages it is a lengthy tome that offers a wealth of insights spread across twenty-five chapters …


Call for articles

COMPASS is looking for contributors to the annual guide to social work and social care. As the largest publication in social work and social care, we are looking for articles to keep our readers informed with the most current information and opinions from professionals in the sector. Suggested topics for editorial include:

Articles highlighting an area of good practice within your organisation or in a specific department.

Articles offering an opinion regarding current legislation and sector issues.

Information about how you as an employer have developed services to encourage innovative practice.

Case studies or features that showcase particular projects.

‘Just one question’ – a senior member of your organisation answering a question on policy, or a factual point or information about future developments in social work and social care.

Story so far – A look at specific social work and social care professionals and how their careers and working life have progressed.


Obituary – The Rev Ken Leech (Centrepoint founder)

Ken Leech, who has died aged 76 of cancer, stood firmly in the proud tradition of radical prophetic priests in the English Catholic, rather than Roman Catholic, tradition – one that comes closest to Latin America’s liberation theology. His commitment to allying prayer with political action led him to create the Centrepoint charity for young homeless people in central London, to work tirelessly on promoting good race relations, and to become an influential writer exploring the relationship between intimacy with God and compassionate political commitment to a more just and peaceful world.


Equality Trust Forthcoming Event (Nov 21st)

Join us on the afternoon of Saturday 21st November to watch an exclusive, preview screening of “The Divide”; a powerful and thought-provoking film inspired by “The Spirit Level”, that explores the human stories behind the inequality statistics and graphs. We are also delighted to announce that you will be able to hear from Professor Sir Tony Atkinson, Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics, discussing his new book “Inequality – what can be done?” Professor Atkinson recommends ambitious policies to address inequality, providing informed optimism about the prospects for action on economic inequality. You will also be able to put your questions to the makers of “The Divide”, Professor Atkinson, and to Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, the authors of “The Spirit Level”, about the film and the state of the inequality debate.

It’s the inequality event of the year – don’t miss it! Spaces are limited, early booking advised.