PHOTO Janet Jackson receives racist golly doll as gift from a fan while on tour

Racist golliwogg golly doll received by Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson fans are up in arms after the singer shared this photo of a gift she received from a fan along with the tweet, “During the tour, I was given this doll named Maria. She was advertised as lifelike. How does Maria make you feel?”

The doll is a “gollyy doll” or “Gollywogg” based on a character from a series of 19th century children’s books. From Wikipedia:

The “Golliwogg” (later “Golliwog”, “golly doll”) was a character in children’s books in the late 19th century and depicted as a type of rag doll. It was reproduced, both by commercial and hobby toy-makers as a children’s toy called the “golliwog”, and had great popularity in North America, Europe and Australia, into the 1960s. The doll has black skin, eyes rimmed in white, clown lips, and frizzy hair, and it has been described as “the least known of the major anti-Black caricatures in the United States”. While home-made golliwogs were sometimes female, the golliwog was generally male. For this reason, in the period following World War II, the golliwog was seen, along with the teddy bear, as a suitable soft toy for a young boy.

The Golliwogg's Circu book by Florence K. Upton from 1903

The image of the doll has become the subject of heated debate. One aspect of the debate in its favour argues that it should be preserved and passed on as a cherished cultural artifact and childhood tradition. At the same time, others argue that the golliwog is a destructive instance of racism against people of African descent, along with pickaninnies, minstrels, mammy figures, and other caricatures. In recent years, changing political attitudes with regard to race have reduced the popularity and sales of golliwogs as toys. Manufacturers who have used golliwogs as a motif have either withdrawn them as an icon, or changed the name. The association of Gollywogs with the pejorative term “wog” has resulted in use of alternative names such as “Golly” and “Golly doll.”

I believe I tracked down the source for the particular golly doll received by Janet Jackson on an Australian website for The Ugg Boot Lady. It’s actually sold as part of the “Golly Family Number One” which includes four dolls – two adults and two children with a male and female of each. Here’s a photo:

Golliwogg golly doll family including one that looks like the one received by Janet Jackson

The description of the set of dolls, which goes for $17.50AU (Right around $18.15US), reads, “With their bright smiling faces and colourful outfits, these little dolls are sure to delight any boy or girl.”

That description is in need of a serious rewrite.

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  • sanoga

    Not to pick hairs, but I think the set of four dolls depicted in the photo are actually two adults (one female, one male) and two children (one female, one male). (You report that the photo depicts “two male adults and two female children.”)

    • Starcasm Staff

      Thanks Sanoga – That’s what I meant to say and it has since been corrected :) – Asa

  • Mandy

    You guys should stick to what you do best.. trashy gossip.

  • Stacy

    That doll is a cute handmade doll that cost at least twenty dollars and Janet essentially spit in the giver’s face by the way she has implied that there was nasty racist intent by the giver. This isn’t a cheap doll from walmart and it wasn’t purchased from a website run by people who hate black people. The doll is made by a nice Australian lady who makes a family of Golliwog dolls and various clothing items. Did it ever occur to Janet that it was meant as a sweet gift and not meant to be a big nasty racist insult? Come on folks. People who look for racism in everything tend to FIND it. People who want to be offended ARE offended all the time. Janet, if you hate the gift, then put it on ebay and donate the proceeds to a soup kitchen or something. Let someone have the doll who will enjoy how cute it is.

    • becky

      SHUT UP STACIE, You must be white, b/c you definitely don’t have a clue. We as AF-AM know who we are & where we came from. AND YES IT WAS RACIST, YOU NEED TO EDUCATE YOURSELF. Would you give a Jewish person a doll that represented the Holocaust?? And call it a gift? I THINK NOT !!!

      • Name

        Becky, you do not need to be rude to stacy. How do you know she is white? She might just be young and innocent. I am African AMerican and I do not know the history behind the doll. I was born in the 90s. I do know it is disrespectful to tell someone to shut up and type in all caps.

  • Esjayg

    I seriously feel like people in the ‘thisisaracisttoy’ camp don’t know anything about the history behind this. It’s like how I could take chocolate oreos and turn them into something racist, by emphasizing it for my own gains or potential sympathy. Chocolate oreos? Puh! No where near as popular as the original flavour, the white (vanilla?) flavour. No idea. My attempts suck but seriously. YOU PEOPLE NEEDZ TO DO SOME LEARNINZ.

    Has Janet never heard of one of these before?

  • Xavier

    I don’t see the racism here… Hasn’t your mother told you, when you receive a gift, it’s the thought that counts.