Black Pudding store owner Greg Bowles said in 20 years, there have only been “four or five” negative comments about the “Golliwog” dolls the Langley British import store sells. Dan Ferguson Black Press Media

B.C. shop owners to keep selling controversial ‘Golliwog’ dolls

Customer complains imported British-made black dolls with frizzy hair are racist

Two Langley shopkeepers say they will continue to sell Golliwog dolls because they are “not aracist thing at all.”

Greg Bowles and Linda Hazelton, owners of the Black Pudding Imports Ltd. store, were respondingto a complaint by Surrey resident Taylor Walker, who said the imported British-made black dolls,which have eyes rimmed in white, big red lips and frizzy hair, were offensive.

Walker said she and her boyfriend were startled to see the dolls were for sale during a visit onSunday to the store on 203rd Street near 64th Avenue, which sells imported products from Britain,Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“We were pleased with the British and Irish products they had until we got to the checkout andnoticed they were selling Golliwog memorabilia,” Walker said.

Walker told the Black Press Media that she didn’t say anything at the time because shewanted to research the dolls before contacting the store.

“I just wanted to let them know that it was a very offensive item” Walker said.

“My dad is black. He’s from the [U.S] south.”

Walker said the dolls may have been fine at one time, but times have changed.

“For me, you look back and see things from years ago that were acceptable, now, it’s not okay,”

Walker said.

“I think the number of those offended is bigger than those who have affection for them.”

READ ALSO: Trudeau says anti-black racism exists in Canada

Bowles said complaints about the dolls have been rare.

“In 20 years, we have only had four or five people say something,” he said.

“There are dozens and dozens of [British import] stores in Canada” that sell the dolls, Bowlesadded.

Linda Hazelton said she was “shocked” by the suggestion the dolls were racist.

“It’s a kid’s tale. It’s not a racist thing at all,” she said.

“She’s [Walker] being oversensitive.”

Hazelton said the store caters to “English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh” customers who grew up withthe children’s books.

“It’s a childhood memory for those people,” she said.

“We sell tons of them.”

“They sell them in England. They’re not banned anywhere.”

Golliwog dolls are based on a character in an 1895 children’s book called The Adventures of TwoDutch Dolls and a Golliwogg by British author Florence Kate Upton, who described the character as“the blackest gnome.”

It was a popular children’s toy in many European countries, but in recent years has become amagnet for controversy, with critics saying the doll was based on blackface worn by whiteperformers who crudely stereotyped black people.

According to a number of historical sources, the doll inspired the racial slur “wog.”

Because of that, Hazelton and Bowles said, the toys are now called “Golly” dolls.

In recent years, the controversy has led British jam makers Robertson’s to drop its trademarkGolliwog mascot and in Australia, Arnott’s Golliwog chocolate biscuit was renamed the Scalliwag.

However, when a 2018 poll asked 1,660 Britons whether it was “racist to sell or display a golliwogdoll,” it found most didn’t see a problem, with 63 per cent responding “no,” 20 per cent “yes,” and17 per cent “ not sure.”

The Ferris State University “Jim Crow museum of racist memorabilia” website said Golliwog dollswere the “least known of the major anti-black caricatures in the United States.

Professor Dr. David Pilgrim said the character “often reflected negative beliefs about blacks[portraying them as] thieves, miscreants, incompetents.”

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