What is going on with mainstream fashion retailers these days? There’s been a rash of offensive items released over the past year, ranging from culturally insensitive to straight up racist -- including GAP’s "Manifest Destiny" T-Shirt and Urban Outfitter’s “Dictators with Attitude” T-shirt, featuring Hitler, Kim Jong Il and Muammar Gaddafi.
Now, upscale hipster go-to Anthropologie is bringing the ignorance to home decorations, with a candlestick featuring multiple racial stereotypes.
Spotted by the website Jezebel, the candlestick features a range of vintage trinkets stacked on top of one another, including a porcelain charicature of a black maid with the caption “Souvenir of Washington, D.C.”, or as Jezebel puts it, “a mammy from D.C.”
The woman's face is painted completely black with blue dots for eyes. It resembles the blackface theatrical makeup used by white actors in vaudeville minstrel shows, who would dress up and perform black racial stereotypes.
There’s also a little portrait of JFK, and on the bottom, shouldering the load, is a tiny Asian man.
Almost as off-putting as the item is the laughable $398 price tag.
The item is described in the online catalogue thusly: “An assortment of found knickknacks, from antique animals to painted porcelain gentry and filigree tin, stack tall to form Primitive Twig's taper holder. The decorative elements vary from piece to piece; no two are alike."
There’s really no telling what other whimsical stereotypes are featured on other versions of the item. Perhaps this is the most offensive of the lot and the rest are all bunnies and teapots, but then why feature this one in the catalogue?
At the moment, Anthropologie’s catalogue says the item is no longer available, perhaps because they pulled it or perhaps because they were simply flying off the shelves.
If you had your heart set on one of these two-foot monstrosities, not to worry. Head to the nearest thrift store, stock up on knickknacks, glue gun those suckers together, and save yourself about $370 and the pain of explaining why you have a black-faced doll on your dining room table.