Cries of racism are resounding across New Jersey over the sale of black rag dolls meant to be slammed against a wall as a form of stress relief.
The Feel Better dolls have been pulled from store shelves amid a deluge of complaints.
Ricky Shah, president of the One Dollar Zone retail chain, said about 1,000 dolls were pulled from its store in Bayonne and two others in the state, The Associated Press reported.
The dolls are made of black fabric with red, green, black and yellow yarn for hair. Each doll has bright white eyes and teeth as well as instructions about how to abuse it.
“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,” the instructions read. “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.'”
IS THIS DOLL RACIST? New Jersey dollar stores have pulled a controversial doll from their shelves after claims that the “feel better doll” promoted racism and violence against the black community. https://t.co/GBP2JLgTIH #CBSNewYork pic.twitter.com/ro7XUdoGcd
— CBS New York (@CBSNewYork) July 27, 2019
State Assemblyman Angela McKnight, a Democrat from Hudson, was not feeling quite that good about the dolls when she visited a Bayonne shop.
“When I heard about this doll on social media, I knew I had to do something immediately,” she wrote on Facebook. “This doll is 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.
“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.”
“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!” he posted.
Many on social media rendered their verdicts as well.
Systematic white supremacy is based on abusing Black people in direct and indirect ways, so that the white supremacists can feel better about themselves.
— Tariq Nasheed ?? (@tariqnasheed) July 27, 2019
The Mayor in my town demanded this doll be taken off the shelves of a local store because a black council woman was offended and called it “racist.” It’s a “Feel better!” doll for God’s sake! What’s next? Demanding store owners remove black Barbie dolls? pic.twitter.com/I4w4kS020U
— Sheila C. (@SheilaNJ) July 22, 2019
Shah offered an apology and said the dolls were part of a lot of closeout merchandise his stores had purchased.
“This somehow slipped through the cracks,” he said.
CNN reported that the dolls had also been made in yellow and green.
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