Sometimes, racism is overt and self-evident, which is the case for a black rag doll with braided dreadlocks that was found for sale in a New Jersey store called the One Dollar Zone. The manufacturer’s tag on the “Feel Better Doll” indicated that it was intended to be slammed against the wall “whenever things don’t go well.”
New Jersey legislator Angela McKnight visited the One Dollar Zone store in Bayonne to see the doll for herself and said that she found the toy to be “offensive and disturbing on so many levels.”
“It is clearly made in an inappropriate representation of a black person and instructs people to ‘slam’ and ‘whack’ her,” McKnight wrote in a statement posted to her Facebook page. McKnight represents Bayonne and parts of Jersey City.
Watch a report on the controversy by CBS New York:
Video by CBS New York
“Racism has no place in the world and I will not tolerate it, especially not in this district. 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. To have a product depict or teach children that it is OK to hit another child, regardless of race, in order to feel good is sick,” she wrote.
After seeing the doll, McKnight spoke with the store’s general manager who promptly removed the dolls from the store’s shelves.
The manufacturer’s label read: “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.'”
The doll was a close-out item shipped to the One Dollar Zone chain as part of a buy of 35,000 items, including various unrelated surplus merchandise. “When we got a call from the manager of the Bayonne store, we pulled everything from the shelves,” said Nick Shah, president of the One Dollar Zone.
Shah indicated the dolls came to them among items such as mugs and picture frames, most with an “I Love NY” theme. The doll was not something anyone specifically noticed.
“This somehow slipped through the cracks,” Shah said about the doll.
The dolls’ tags indicate that it was manufactured by the New York-based company Harvey Hutter Co. which appears to be out of business, as their website is invalid and their phone number is disconnected. The company was at one time located in Verplanck, New York, but its Google listing indicates they are permanently closed.
The company that sent the dolls out as part of the bulk closeout shipment has apologized and offered to credit One Dollar Zone for the cost of the dolls, according to an email Shah forwarded to the Associated Press.
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