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Store yanks black rag dolls meant to be slammed against walls: 'Offensive and disturbing'

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

Feel Better Dolls found in One Dollar Zone stores came with instructions to "find a wall" and slam the toy against it. The dolls have been pulled after customers found it offensive. (Photo: Angela McKnight, AP)

The dolls say they're meant to help you chill out.

Instead, the black rag doll that implores people to grab it firmly by the legs and "find a wall to slam" it against has enraged customers who call it racist.

Whether picked up by children or used by adults to de-stress, New Jersey state legislator Angela McKnight said, the "Feel Better Doll" has no place in any store.

McKnight visited a One Dollar Zone store in Bayonne and found the toy "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," McKnight wrote in a statement on Facebook. "Racism has no place in the world and I will not tolerate it, especially not in this district."

The dolls are made of black fabric and feature yarn hair of red, yellow, black and green and a white smile. McKnight said the instructions, which are stitched onto the doll's front, encourage violence. 

"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," she wrote. "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."

Apology issued, dolls pulled

The mayor of Bayonne, Jimmy Davis, also spoke out in a Facebook post, saying that the dolls “can certainly be considered racist.”

About 1,000 of the Feel Better Dolls have been pulled from three One Dollar Zone stores in New Jersey where they were stocked, said president Ricky Shah. The chain is in the Northeast, with about two dozens stores operating from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. 

Shah apologized and said the dolls were immediately pulled from shelves last week after customer complaints. He said the company didn’t adequately check a shipment of 35,000 close-out items before distributing them. 

"This somehow slipped through the cracks,” he said. 

The dolls' manufacturer, New York City-based Harvey Hutter Co., could not be reached at several phone numbers listed. Doll supplier Global Souvenir Marketing could not be located for comment.

The Associated Press said that Shah forwarded an email from the supplier stating that the company is no longer in business and that it did not respond to a request for comment.


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