Store removes ‘racist’ dolls

Store removes 'racist' dolls
Stockholm's most prestigious department store, Nordiska Kompaniet (NK), has had to remove a set of black ragdolls from its Christmas window display after receiving a number of complaints from concerned customers.

A visit to NK’s Christmas displays has been a part of Stockholmers’ staple holiday traditions ever since 1915. This year’s theme was “A dream Christmas”. Puppies, dragons and polar bears danced side-by-side with sugar plum fairies and… what appeared to be golliwogs.

When the windows were first available for public consumption on Sunday, one featured three of the black dolls emerging from a Christmas package.

“The company that does our window displays gets a lot of its stock from Germany,” NK spokeswoman Sofie Stenbeck told The Local.

“They went there to buy the dolls. But they ended up getting a lot of e-mails from customers, who said that the dolls looked like golliwogs,” she added.

A golliwog is a black ragdoll that was originally a literary character created by English author and illustrator Florence Kate Upton in the late 19th century.

These dolls, with their jet black skin, lipstick red lips and fuzzy hair, became a popular children’s toy. They resembled the characters in the American minstrel shows, comedies that often stereotyped black people as bumbling idiots.

The golliwog was also used as the mascot of British jam manufacturer James Robertson & Sons from 1910 until the company’s products were boycotted as offensive in the early 1980s.

According to Sofie Stenbeck, NK was also contacted by members of the public who found the dolls inappropriate.

“When we looked at the window again we saw that the dolls were very similar to these golliwogs. We took a decision to remove them. Of course they shouldn’t be there if they cause offence,” she said.

By Wednesday the dolls had been replaced by a toy spider and a stuffed turtle.

Charlotte West and Paul O’Mahony