Petition accuses Etsy of profiting from hate

The company won't comment on the sale of racist "Golliwog dolls on the site, saying only: "Etsy policies are written to balance community values with a desire to allow creative expression."

Mar 3, 2020, 1:53 am*


Lauren Rae Orsini 

Lauren Rae Orsini

Petitioners are accusing Etsy, the handcrafting marketplace, of profiting off items it’s supposed to prohibit—racist dolls.

Unfortunately, the petition, which has acquired 105 signatures so far, is both right and wrong: Etsy sure is profiting off of racism. But that’s because racism isn’t prohibited.

Betabeat reported that the petition criticizes Etsy for allowing the sale of “Golliwog dolls,” a style of problematically racist doll with minstrel-show features. A search for “Golliwog” on Etsy yields 129 results.

The petition’s author, Raquel Mack, writes that since Etsy does not remove these dolls from the site, it has no problem making a profit off of them. (Etsy receives $0.20 from each item listed on the site.)

“[The dolls] have been reported numerous times to Etsy’s integrity team, however the over 70 items in question remain on the sites of Etsy’s various merchants, many of whom hand make these Golliwog items to order and are not vintage.”

An Etsy spokesperson told the Daily Dot it wasn’t the marketplace’s policy to comment on individual cases like this one, but that “Etsy policies are written to balance community values with a desire to allow creative expression.”

It’s this fine line that makes it OK to buy and sell memorabilia related to Nazis and the KKK, and yes, items that harken back to American slavery. Etsy policies forbid users from selling items that “glorify hatred,” but items with historical significance are exempt.

However, Mack observes that many of these items are brand new and made to order, not vintage reminders of America’s past. Whether these new items are against Etsy’s policies is more difficult to determine.

On Raquel Mack’s Facebook page, Etsy: Selling Hate, the organizer posted an interaction with Kruti Patel Goyal, Etsy’s former leader of the Marketplace Integrity team, about Golliwog dolls.

“Unfortunately I can’t provide any additional information or insight into this case,” Goyal told Mack. “This team reviews cases as quickly and efficiently as possible and enforces our policies fairly and consistently across the site.”

That was Jul. 27, and Goyal has since gone on to lead Etsy’s International Business team. Mack told the Daily Dot via Twitter that she hasn’t heard anything new.

The petition is her latest and loudest attempt to get a response.

Image via Etsy

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*First Published: Oct 10, 2012, 11:47 am