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

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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Nanaimo city council voted unanimously Monday to pass a bylaw establishing the foundation for a new downtown business improvement association. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo adopts bylaw to create new downtown business improvement association

Chamber of commerce says next steps will be a board of directors and five-year strategic plan

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district teachers’ union, and its counterparts from Mount Arrowsmith district, seek stricter COVID-19 rules. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith teachers’ union asks health authority for stricter COVID-19 measures

Teachers ask for vaccine, more online learning, mask mandate for primary students

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations with RV hook-ups

Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigator Mark Jonah probes the scene of a blaze that destroyed two apartments on Sunday, April 18. The cause of the blaze has not been determined. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
UPDATE: RCMP say Wakesiah Avenue fire was arson, suspect has been arrested

35-year-old man arrested for allegedly starting fire lived in the complex

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

The City of Nanaimo will further investigate an initiative to set up two 12-cabin sites to create transitional emergency housing for people experiencing homelessness. (Black Press file photo)
City of Nanaimo will ask for expressions of interest to operate tiny cabin sites

Staff expresses concern about workload, councillor says sheltering people must take priority

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

Most Read