A Racist Doll That Encouraged Violence Against Black Children Is Getting Shared On Twitter
Some people just don’t learn, do they?
U.S. history is one loaded sheet of receipts of proof that, when it comes to racism, we have been there, done that, and have had it up here with it. And yet, commercial business, establishments that rely on customer approval, still don’t seem to get it. And at the very least, they aren’t making an effort to regularly brush up on what can trigger their customer base and cause backlash. Yes, in 2019, consumers continue to face questionable advertisements and products that most 5th graders would be able to identify as racist off the bat. From Blackface shoes to racist jerseys brands are proving just how much they aren’t listening to minority consumers when we say “Ouch that hurts.”
This goes doubly true for a New Jersey dollar store that never once questioned a black “Feel Better Doll” that people could “whack” “whenever things don’t go well” and put it on its shelves.
Black rag dolls that were designed to be abused as stress relievers have been pulled from shelves of a N.J. One Dollar Store after complaints of racism from politicians and customers began to build.
The dolls, which were made of black fabric and red, green, black and yellow colored yarn for hair made up in the style of dreadlocks, were found in New Jersey One Dollar Zone store. The dolls called “Feel Better Doll” had a message to consumers sewn on their stomach that said “Whenever things don’t go well and you want to hit the wall and yell, here’s a little ‘feel better doll’ that you just will not do without. Just grab it firmly by the legs and find a wall to slam the doll, and as you whack the ‘feel good doll’ do not forget to yell I FEEL GOOD, I FEEL GOOD.”
Based on the label, the doll appears to be manufactured by HarveyHutterCoInc.com.
Black dolls in the U.S. have a prominent and ugly role in our history as gross caricatures.
American consumer history is rife with Black caricature dolls. While today’s Black dolls primarily reflect the fashionable, beautiful and success-driven African-American women of today, black dolls of the past often represented dehumanizing racial stereotypes and anti-Black caricatures that included the Mammy and the Pickaninny.
These dolls were often dressed in ragged clothes had made to be “kinky” hair and often had overly dramatized physical features.
One 1900s postcard features a doll with similar sentiments of the “Feel Better Doll”.
The postcard titled, “I Certainly Do Miss the Children,” features a white man as he throws baseballs at black dolls in a carnival game called, “Hit the Nigger Babies.” The message of the card showcases historical sentiment that Black people were merely objects present for the abuse and amusement of white people, that Black children were not human.
Unpacking the various problems with this doll is pretty simple.
First, we can only count the ways in which encouraging adults, let alone children, that using violent behavior on a figure that represents a child as a stress reliever is a dangerous idea of gargantuan proportions. Besides being tools that can comfort and entertain a child, dolls offer children a way to understand how to care for and love other objects and people. The National Black Doll Museum and History Of Culture describes dolls as “a child’s first introduction to self- image” and says that “the history of black dolls is about more than just objects of play. Black dolls have played a critical role in building a diverse American society and rich African American culture.” For Black children whose cultural This doll presents a perverse alternative that undoubtedly encourages the behavior to the contrary.
There’s also the fact that the doll is an inappropriate and stereotypically crafted representation of a Black girl. Considering that Black girls and women are consistently abused and mistreated by others at disproportionate rates than other women and men of different races poses another issue. This doll undoubtedly perpetuates this problem as it tells young children that abusing dolls that look like black girls is acceptable. That their negative emotions can be cured by mistreating children and black dolls (aka black girls) specifically.
Angela Knight, a New Jersey state assemblywoman, shared a statement to her Facebook page about the doll that expressed similar concerns.
Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight said that after seeing images of the doll appear on her social media, she went toa One Dollar Zone in Bayonne, N.J. to see the dolls for herself. She soon after posted photos of the doll on her Facebook page along with a statement that condemned the dolls and the abuse they encouraged.
“Racism has no place in the world and I will not tolerate it, especially not in this district,” she wrote in the statement.”When I saw the doll in person, I cringed and was truly disheartened by the thought of a black child being beaten by another child or an adult for pure pleasure.”
We reached out to the manufacturer for comment but received no response as of this article’s publication.