Black feel better dolls pulled From New Jersey Stores (Reports).
A dollar store in Bayonne is under fire for selling black cloth dolls that encourage customers to “slam” and “whack” them against a wall “to feel better.”
Both the mayor of Bayonne and a local assemblywoman who represents the area have decried the dolls as racist, and they were taken off the store shelves Monday.
The dolls were sold at One Dollar Zone, a dollar store located at Bayonne Crossing in Bayonne. Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D) who represents Bayonne and part of Jersey City, learned they were being sold when she saw a post about the dolls on social media earlier this week, said her spokeswoman. The dolls are made out of black cloth and only black dolls were sold, said her spokeswoman; there were no white dolls on the store shelves.
The message printed on the front of the doll reads:
“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.'”
This past Monday, July 22, Assemblywoman McKnight went to the dollar store and spoke to the manager. She asked them to remove the doll immediately from store shelves, and the store complied, said her office.
“When I heard about this doll on social media, I knew I had to do something immediately. This doll is offensive and disturbing on so many levels,” said McKnight in a statement. “It is clearly made in an inappropriate representation of a black person and instructs people to ‘slam’ and ‘whack’ her.”
How did One Dollar Zone think it was OK to sell such a doll?
When Patch called One Dollar Zone in Bayonne, the store manager directed us to call their corporate offices. There are more than 30 One Dollar Zone stores located throughout the Northeast.
“The dolls came in a bulk, close-out order and we did not realize what was inside,” said Nick Shah, who identified himself as one of the buyers for One Dollar Zone. “When we got a call from the manager of the Bayonne store, we pulled everything from the shelves.”
The manufacturer is listed on the doll as HarveyHutterCoInc.com, which appears to be out of business, as their website is defunct and their phone number is disconnected. The company used to be located in Verplanck, New York but their Google listing says they are permanently closed. An email to the company has not yet been returned.
McKnight’s office confirmed that all the dolls have been taken off store shelves, but McKnight said she was appalled to see them even being sold.
“I thank the community for bringing this to my attention,” she said in a statement. “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.”
Even white dolls such as this would not be appropriate to be sold, she said.
“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 added.
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis said he was appalled to see such dolls sold, as well, saying in a Facebook post: “It was recently brought to my attention that a doll was being sold at a Dollar Store in Bayonne that can certainly be considered racist. Assemblywoman Angela McKnight contacted me and we have ensured this doll is pulled from the shelves of this store.”
“The manager of the store was very apologetic and quickly took down the dolls without hesitation,” continued Mayor Davis. Aside from the shock of seeing such an insensitive product being sold in our community, I am grateful for the people that saw it and said something immediately! I also want to thank Assemblywoman McKnight for her quick response and assistance. We will not tolerate any symbol of hate and division within our community!”