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

Langley shop owners say they will 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 a racist thing at all.”

Greg Bowles and Linda Hazelton, owners of the Black Pudding Imports Ltd. store, were responding to 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 on Sunday 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 and noticed they were selling Golliwog memorabilia,” Walker said.

Walker told the Langley Advance Times that she didn’t say anything at the time because she wanted 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, Bowles added.

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 with the 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 Two Dutch 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 a magnet for controversy, with critics saying the doll was based on blackface worn by white performers 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 trademark Golliwog 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 golliwog doll,” it found most didn’t see a problem, with 63 per cent responding “no,” 20 per cent “yes,” and 17 per cent “ not sure.”

The Ferris State University “Jim Crow museum of racist memorabilia” website said Golliwog dolls were 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

 

Surrey resident Taylor Walker said the imported British-made black “Golly” dolls, which have eyes rimmed in white, big red lips and frizzy hair, are offensive. Supplied

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Giants add two imports top roster

New additions from Sweden and Slovakia

VIDEO: Langley ecologist takes folks on virtual walk along the Houston Trail

Professor explains more about native and non-native plants growing in Derby Reach Regional Park

VIDEO: GLOW festival organizers seek a return to Langley

Application for “non-farm-use” goes to Agricultural Land Commission

LETTER: In troubling times, it’s nice to share the positives

An unnerved Langley reader wants to tell of a funny and kind business operator

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

B.C. repairs COVID-19 emergency order for local government

Ombudsperson shut out as his recommendations implemented

Canadian engineer detained in Egypt released, needs treatment, family says

Yasser Albaz was detained at the Cairo airport after a business trip in February of 2019

RCMP arrest armed man on grounds near Trudeau residence

Officers descended on the sprawling estate Thursday morning.

Canada Day tractor incident kills three children, injures seven in Quebec

The tractor driver has been arrested following the accident

Undercover operation exposes prominent human trafficking problem in Greater Victoria

VicPD’s Operation No More took place in mid-June at a local hotel

Tsilhqot’in Nation demands meeting with feds on declining Fraser River chinook stocks

The Nation wants to partner with DFO to rebuild and recover the stocks

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

Most Read