Dolls Kill and the Story of the Racist Hoodie

Once upon a time, there was a not so little company, named Dolls Kill, who decided to carry the hoodie of a Spanish designer, W.I.A., in their store. The hoodie was all black and in white writing and read “Goth is White”. Now the hoodie did have a sibling, in inverse colors, but the wave of uncomfortableness was still too much to bear. So Zakkarrii shared the image, asking if what she was seeing was the same as everyone else. Links are underlined.

And then people shared it and sent emails: contact@dollskill.com

And now more than 24 hours later, we’re going to talk about it.

It’s just one piece of clothing, stop causing problems.

Ahem. This is the cherry on top for me, you know, a black goth who spends a great deal of time trying their damnedest to kick down every barrier that people put in front of me when I have tried to do something in the goth scene. 15 years old, my first comment on a YouTube video not even explicitly goth was “Shit colored people can’t be goth.” So forgive the massive chip on my shoulder that has taken years to get by. Two years ago, someone tried to lead a one man campaign against several black goth youtubers, leaving a slew of racist comments on their videos. There were several, it was anxiety inducing. Go to February 2016, when someone literally (and I’m not being cute here) ran away from me when all I had said was hello.

So the hoodie? Yes, it is one piece of clothing that simply echoes what many have dealt with. It is the billboard we are now being asked to stare at in clubs where we are pressured to feel strange among the strange. And you might think Zakkarrii, you don’t have these problems, I’ve seen you socialize. Because I have worked very hard to be here, and I probably wouldn’t have had to if somethings had been…different.

Is it racist just because a black girl is saying it’s racist?

That’s why I posted it with the question, “How am I supposed to take this?” and again if you look through the gallery of comments, the first impression for many is that it is racist. So…perhaps that first gut reaction so many people are having is worth looking at, because maybe they’re just as tired as I am of trying to excuse poorly executed racist sentiments for the sake of”keeping the peace”.

 

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Goth is white could mean color of clothing, not race.

Sure, if the majority of pieces in the line they were selling were white, yes, I might very well agree with you. But if you would like to take a look at the gallery of comments I have amassed, that’s not everyone’s first thought. And let’s look at this from a business perspective. Dolls Kill, based in San Francisco, sells to an alternative market, a market that sometimes includes goth kids. Goth has had a race problem, both in and out of the culture, not because it is inherent to goth but because people are racist to varying degrees and bring that with them. That hoodie could mostly be seen as predominantly racist in a country where racial tension almost mirrors that of the Civil Rights Era. So, I’m not buying this “it’s color not race” bullshit.

Clearly, they’re very bad at marketing. *eye roll*

Talk to them or the designer. 

I have, to the company that decided to sell it, but not to the Spanish designer. They made the decision to carry it and should have known how it would have been received here. Every alternative clothing loving person has heard of Dolls Kill, many of that same audience have never heard of the designer and at the end of the day, people are going to make shit. Carrying it as a retailer, however, sends a message of support for the sentiment. And even if they didn’t see it that way, I’m not big on forgiving companies with such blinders, they can’t see how else it can be taken.

Fun Fact:

This whole thing started at 8 in the morning, and I called them out on not displaying either the hoodie or the shirt on any of their social media. So, as I was debating whether or not to even write this Sweater Saga, they posted the picture, after the emails, that evening with the following caption: “Angels wear white, but goths can too.” I will accept payment in the form of cash and free clothing.

Their retaliation

Mmmkay….

Aren’t you giving them free publicity?

Oh sure, but how likely are you to buy something from a company that steals artists’ work, sells Native American headdresses, works with LimeCrime, only uses white or white passing models, also sold a shirt that said “Dead girls can’t say No” and now this? So good ahead, shop from them, make it incredibly easy for me to see your financial support for “the controversial, the edgy and the ignorant”. Every time I hear that someone shops from them or works with them, I will only hear, “I care more about myself and how I don’t have to deal with societal problems than supporting business who give a damn about other people.” And I do not want anything to do with people who see nothing wrong here.

The Solution?

Take it down, apologize for the entirety of their mistakes, and get a clue. The more realistic solution is dependent on customers, obviously. Don’t shop from them, put your money in the hundreds of goth artists working their asses off to make high-quality things actually worth having. I have never regretted any of the purchases I have made from artists in the goth or alternative scenes because they make stuff that lasts and resonates with people. Buy directly from the brands Dolls Kill says they represent, because many of these brands have their own websites.

It starts with a sweater, then it’s saying shit, then it escalates. It’s happened before when these simple statements go unchecked and we fall in line, thinking that no one agrees with us or no one will care. But clearly people do, and all this started with one person asking, ” Do you see what I see?”

I’m not mad, I am tired.

Of seeing messages where people think they can’t participate in something that speaks to them because “they don’t look right for it”. I am tired of people bleaching their skin to fit an aesthetic, being afraid if they show who they really are they will be pushed out for it. I am tired of seeing “White Goths only” unspokenly suggested in so many places and maybe you think that means I should leave. But it doesn’t cause me grief, I know who I am, the old school goth values are at the core of everything I do and I will not be told to leave because you don’t like dark skinned girls.

I have work to do. Move, bitch, get out the way.

If you would like to see that quality work we were talking about please take a moment to follow this blog and Join the Strange Collective, to see it in action right before your very eyes follow me on Instagram,Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr. If you want to support how strange we can get around here, please check out Patreon.

Until next time and you know we’ve only just begun…

Don’t be hungry for life. Be ravenous.

Zakkarrii Edison Daniels

8 thoughts on “Dolls Kill and the Story of the Racist Hoodie

  1. trellia

    This is pretty shocking. I can’t imagine what the designer was thinking when they released this, but the racist implications are pretty damn obvious. It should be withdrawn.

  2. Triffle Neb

    I absolutely believe the garment was created without any racist intent. I also believe absolutely that Dolls Kill was ridiculously tone deaf bordering on asleep-at-the-wheel to think they could sell it without that association being made (by the majority of people, even). The proper response is to apologise for being clueless and thoughtless and retract the item, not bitch people out for making the obvious association that most people will.

  3. dana

    nice try, but no. your argument is lame and you should have just went straight to the brand, instead of attacking the retailer. are you going to contact their other retailers too or….? maybe you should focus on actual movements that represent “people of color” instead of wasting your efforts on something so minimal. you sound like someone desperate for an argument and free merchandise.

    1. hellsquookie

      It always starts small and goes unchecked. And I believe I’ve made it clear what I’m upset about. I don’t want free merchandise, that’s childish and would still be supporting them. I have also linked to the issues people have had with other brands that sell through Dolls Kill. I understand this has the potential to be a very heated conversation for some people, but if you’d like to talk about it, you can.

  4. Lalisa

    This white goth says that hoodie is so many levels of just awful/stupid/tone deaf/racist I can’t even. And DK will not be getting my fashion dollars and is getting a call from me.

  5. Essence

    See at first I thought maybe I felt that way because I am black but I posted about this on snapchat and a white goth responded to me explaining she saw the same thing and was disgusted by it, too.

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