A shopkeeper has refused to stop selling golliwog dolls despite receiving numerous complaints calling them racist.
Andy Wilkinson sells a selection of the black-skinned dolls in his antiques store Upstairs Downstairs, in Faversham, Kent.
After being blasted by the public for stocking the dolls, Wilkinson has said he has nothing to hide and will continue selling the controversial items as they are popular with customers.
Known for having exaggerated lips and frizzy hair, golliwog dolls were designed as minstrel-men replicas, becoming common in the UK.
Popular until the 1970s, the dolls later became widely considered racist, almost completely disappearing from shelves as attitudes towards racial depictions changed in the country.
Once a mascot for Robertson’s jam up until 2001, the dolls are now seen as a symbol of racism by many, leaving some locals describing Wilkinson’s shop as an embarrassment to the town.
Ugh. Racist golliwog dolls at the Easter Show. Disgraceful. pic.twitter.com/g5QzOClL2v
— Shane Bazzi (@shanebazzi) March 30, 2018
Gavin McGregor is one such resident exclaiming:
Regardless of whether or not people historically had or are still feeling towards these items as toys, they are demeaning to black people.
I hope people will agree that ‘golliwogs’ are remnants of a racist past which are not appropriate for display and sale.
Fellow local James Brown is in agreement saying:
Regardless of whether it’s legal or not I find it astonishing that he cannot see that in this day and age it’s tasteless.
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However, Wilkinson has defended himself claiming he has the right to sell the historical relic.
Golliwogs are collectables, they’re just part of history – it’s not racism.
I find it quite weird how everything has got to be offensive, people of my age remember having them as toys.
I have sold lots and lots of golliwogs and as soon as they come in they go out again.
We certainly wouldn’t sell anything that was pornographic, or is taking the mickey out of people.
We have got standards, we wouldn’t sell anything that we found offensive at all.
The shop owner claimed the dolls, which can sell for as much as £100 each, are commonplace in other antique stores.
Middle-aged people getting defensive over 'golliwog' dolls is hilarious and pathetic. It's not okay.
— Silence of the Alarms (@Wardculture) April 2, 2018
He added they can also be found at car boot sales and auctions.
Saying his business is built on reputation, Wilkinson claims he is careful not to offend anyone.
He said finding the dolls offensive is a question of which generation you are from:
The youngsters don’t identify with them because they’re not part of their heritage. A lot of black people collect them because they say it is part of their history.
The worst thing, I think, is to try to block the past out and say it didn’t happen. We have got to move on, it happened and people collect it.
I have yet to meet a black person who seriously finds golliwog dolls 'offensive'
Normally, it is champagne-flowing, dinner party, middle class metropolitan WHITE lefties who scream about it https://t.co/eoSDmtYVMG
— Mark C #iamtommy (@TheHappyKipper) April 1, 2018
As well as complaints, Wilkinson also receives support from people who believe he should continue to sell the dolls.
Harry Palms wrote:
I still make no link to racism, but articles like this make me feel that I should turn against my memories.
Another local praised Wilkinson for standing up for his beliefs writing:
These are an integral part of our heritage as the golliwog is the proper name given for the Robertsons Jam Jars and this is a fact!
It is not being racist for that was a well-known fact and anyone my age was brought up with this terminology.
Times, however, change, and at this point Golliwogs are seen as controversial. Wilkinson will have to continue to defend putting them on his shelves.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.