Anger after golliwog dolls for sale on St Albans market stall

St Albans Market.

St Albans Market. - Credit: Archant

A St Albans market stall has been heavily criticised for selling toys based on a racial stereotype.

Resident Will Ryan of Bardwell Road was appalled to see golliwog dolls on a St Albans Vintage Market stall on Sunday, June 28.

He has complained in a letter to St Albans district council and written to MP Daisy Cooper about the matter.

The 29-year-old said that St Albans recently hosted a Black Lives Matter protest, attended by Daisy Cooper, and that his reason for copying her into the letter was to make her aware.

He said he thinks she will be “outraged this practice is happening within her constituency”.

Will said: “I am shocked and appalled this has happened in St Albans. The vintage market is on a Sunday, with families and children of all ethnicities encouraged to shop there in the city centre.

“To see such despicable and racist memorabilia on display is utterly unacceptable.

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“It’s one thing for me as a white man to see it and be offended but my wife is from an Asian background.

“For her, this perpetuates the racial stereotypes she deals with regularly.

“It’s an offensive item which shouldn’t be sold in 2020.”

In the letter, the St Albans market-goer proposed two points of action. Firstly, that the trader involved is given an opportunity to remove the doll, apologise for the offence caused and avoid the sale of any racist memorabilia in future.

And secondly that the market should amend its trading policies to prohibit the sale of any racist memorabilia and this should be widely advertised.

Jenny Titmuss of Corky Events, who ran the event on Sunday, said: “They are collectable items and widely available at all antique, vintage, collectable and memorabilia events and as the trader takes part in many other events like this there was certainly no offence meant to be caused last Sunday and I really am very sorry that people have been offended.

“The doll was taken off sale as soon as the complaint was made.

“Regardless of their availability, Will was obviously very upset by what he saw and the question of ethics remains. Therefore I am taking time to look into the matter further, discuss with and take advice from others and come to a conclusion that is right for all.”

Joe Tavernier, head of community services for St Albans council, said: “The Antiques and Vintage Market is run by an independent company that pays to use St Peter’s Street once a month.

“We will be speaking to the organisers to let them know that we are furious that a golliwog was on display. This is a racially-offensive object and it is utterly unacceptable that it should have been there.

“We will be looking for reassurances that they will take appropriate action to ensure this does not happen again.

“As a council, we are opposed to racial prejudice and are committed to being a diverse and inclusive organisation.”