Black rag dolls featuring instructions on how to abuse them were removed from the shelves of One Dollar Zone stores in New Jersey after customers and a state assemblywoman called the dolls racist.
The president of One Dollar Zone said roughly 1,000 of the dolls—called the “Feel Better Doll”—were removed from three stores in New Jersey, the Associated Press reports.
The dolls, made with black fabric and hair made of red, black, green and yellow yarn, features a tag that instructs the doll’s owner to grab it “firmly by the legs and find a wall to slam” it while yelling “I feel good. I feel good.”
After first seeing the dolls on social media, N.J. Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight stopped by a One Dollar Zone in Bayonne, N.J.—in the district she represents—to see the dolls for herself. She posted photos of the doll on her Facebook page along with a statement calling the dolls offensive.
“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. Dolls should be a symbol of love, care and affection.
To its credit, One Dollar Zone apologized and quickly removed the problematic dolls from store shelves.
One Dollar Zone President Ricky Shah said the company immediately pulled the dolls from store shelves after customers voiced concerns about them.
“One Dollar Zone deeply apologizes for this incident,” Shah said.
One Dollar Zone said the controversial dolls were part of an assorted 35,000 unit purchase. The company said it tries to vet all the items but aren’t able to catch everything.
The dolls came in two other colors, green and yellow, the company added.
The manufacturer of the dolls is Harvey Hutter Co. The company’s phone numbers have been disconnected and its website no longer exists.
Given the history surrounding black dolls in this country—starting with Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s landmark study, aka “the doll test”—one wonders how a doll like this even got made. On second thought, given the history of this country, no one has to wonder at all.