Dear NRA: Putting KKK Hoods on Beloved Childhood Characters Probably Isn’t the Best Strategy

Nobody ever said Thomas the Tank Engine was a racist. Geez.


The producers of Thomas the Tank Engine’s decades-old hit television show recently made Thomas & Friends more modern. They changed the theme song and brought in new female characters, including Nia, a train from Kenya created in cahoots with the UN. “Through Nia, we’re able to see an African character really taking a leadership role as a female engine with lots of strong values and goals, herself,” Women’s Africa program adviser Tolulope Lewis-Tamoka told CBS News.

But over at Relentless, a show on NRATV—the TV channel of the National Rifle Association—NRA spokesman Dana Loesch didn’t see why Thomas & Friends needed ethnic diversity. After all, Thomas and his friends are gray and blue. 

“How do you bring ethnic diversity? I mean they had to paint, what I guess they thought was some sort of African pattern on the side of Nia’s engine?” Loesch says in a video clip shared by Media Matters. “How do you bring ethnic diversity to a show that literally has no ethnicities because they’re trains. They don’t even have skin pigmentation. Was there some concern that the show had racist undertones? ”

The segment then cuts to Thomas and his friends riding on flaming tracks and wearing white KKK hoods. “I get it. Thomas the Tank Engine has been a blight on race relations for far too long,” Loesch told viewers. “Clearly this is overdue, right? Seriously, with trains?”



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  • Edwin Rios

    Edwin Rios is a reporter at Mother Jones. Reach him at