Is This Anthropologie Candlestick Racist?

by Britni Danielle

 Anthropologie, a quirky retailer that focuses on off-beat styles for women, is coming under fire today for selling racially insensitive candlesticks that hit just about everyone’s hot button.

The $398 totem pole-style candelabras features two offensive images—a mammy with bright red lips and a stereotypical figure of an Asian woman.

Dubbed the “Trinket & Treasure Candlestick,” Anthropologie described the piece as:

“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.”

Predictably, many were angered by the item. Anthropologie’s Facebook and Twitter pages were flooded with complaints and requests to remove the item. At the moment, the website says the candlesticks are “no longer available.”

After the candlesticks began to cause a stir, the company’s public relations director issued a statement, saying:

“An independent artisan makes these one-of-a-kind candlesticks from vintage ceramics. Unfortunately two that we received included extremely inappropriate figurines, and we have removed them from our website.” She adds: “We sincerely regret the offense we have caused.”

How wonderful. Another “I’m sorry you were offended” apology.

Apparently, no one at Anthropologie had eyes or felt the images were offensive because they were on sale until people began to complain.


  • myblackfriendsays

    They should know better.

  • J. Nicole

    I find the price of the candlesticks to be offensive…

    I don’t see how anyone old enough to have a job at Anthropologie; especially in the merchandising dept couldn’t see this would be offensive to anyone. You can’t be that dumb. At this point I’m sure these companies are doing things like this for publicity.

  • kc

    This is why I’m not here for the quirky vintage/lusting for the past trend that has bloggers decorating their homes with typewriters, knitting, and dressing like ’50s housewives. The past was not awesome for us! It’s nothing to be glamorized. Behind that kitsch is a whole lot o’ racism.

  • Medusa

    I see your point. But do you think like certain aesthetic markers from the past is the same as glorifying the racism? Do you think liking a type of clothing or artifacts is the same as wishing for “the good old days when”?

    The candlesticks are definitely racist, I totally agree with that. But do you think that the other things (I mean non-racialized iconography like typewriters and the like) indicate racism?

  • AnnT

    It’s pretty offensive, but based on the physical location of the trinkets, it’s telling of how Americana was “built on” the use of minorities.

  • S. Kat

    My mistake. I meant to agree that they should know better, but I’m using my cell and clicked thumbs down instead.

  • kc

    Clearly, you aren’t racist if you own a typewriter or dress in hoop skirts, but I do think, in sum, those items signify the “it was a simpler time” mindset that is a gross misunderstanding of our past. I certainly don’t think buying a vintage item here and there is offensive. I’m questioning the set of new domesticity bloggers who do those things I listed above because they think the past is cute and whimsical.

  • Gotcha

    I dont…care omg…
    I …I UUUHH I cant care anymore –I cant care about people stupid-ness I –
    -gets on knees and begin crying uncontrollably -
    I dont care…

  • cheryl m

    i’m offended by the $398 price point

  • Jay Cee

    The second part of your statement is stupid.

  • binks

    Right! more like it should be 3.98 but again I am not surprised…smh i guess they took a page from the D&G earrings

  • TT

    $398?!!! I too am offended by the price. It is racist clearly. They are an overpriced store.

  • jcross

    “You can’t be that dumb. At this point I’m sure these companies are doing things like this for publicity.”

    Exactly, I agree J. Nicole. That’s why (on the Jemele Hill post) I said that misuse of the word ‘ignorant’ bothered me. Some people nitpick over grammar, punctuation, etc. excessively but I only brought up the definition of ‘ignorant’ because it was relevant to the subject. These candlesticks are an example of my point: it is VERY well-known that the image of a dark-skinned, overweight black woman with red lips and a scarf tied around her head is a racist portrayal of black women. There’s nothing ignorant about the actions of the company that decided to sell these; it’s blatant MOCKERY. The whole ‘*gasp* We had no idea, we’re so so sorry’ charade only works on people who don’t want to believe that many of massa’s great-great-grandchildren hold the same kind of contempt/hatred for black people. It’s just ‘updated’ for the modern times :)

  • KnowYourLedge

    Its called “Black Memorabilia” people. Many blacks collect such things, including my dad.

  • mikey kun

    Thank you that proce is crazy you can go to home goods and ball out with that much money

  • bk chick

    Yes! I was gonna write this in my comment but you said it all…Like who doesn’t know Mamie is offensive anymore…seriously? Like maybe after the first two times but this is like the bajillionith…these people ain’t slick.

  • Chillyroad

    My grandmother has a house full of it. I guess it’s like the N-word- only blacks can use it.

  • Blackgirlmd

    I liked them. Thought they were cute.

  • justanotheropinion

    1/13/13 2 2:42AM – candlesticks are still up, but the pixs w/Mammy are no longer there. However, there was a questionable Asian caricature still on one of the pics (def not as questionable, but there none the less..) We won’t even get into the $400 price tag….even if it was in good taste.

  • justanotheropinion

    They did, but elected to ignore it. Their weak as* apology gains nothing from me.

    Never forget – nothing in marketing is a mistake.

  • Bree

    Why do they take the time to release products like that?

  • Yasmeen Regina Parsley


  • Jerry

    … then they removed the candlesticks. And If I am offended by the censorship and the lack of letting us choose to buy or not?

  • Les Fox

    If the candlesticks are made of genuine vintage collectibles, the only thing that would make them “offensive” would be a deliberate attempt by the artist to relate the images to their underlying historical stereotypes. If that was not the artist’s intent, then the candlesticks are no more offensive than the original collectibles and the piece is simply a curiosity that some people will like and some people won’t, like many famous paintings and other works of art. Beauty is still in the eye of the beholder.

Latest Stories

Sonia Sotomayor Wrote A Blistering Dissent Against the Supreme Court Decision Upholding Michigan’s Affirmative-Action Ban


ColorofChange Wants Bravo To Ban Violence From RHOA


Lupita Nyong’o Named People’s Most Beautiful


69% of Americans Favor Mandated Birth Control Coverage

More in anthropologie, racism
Naomi Campbell on Tyra Banks: “I’m Proud of Her as a Woman of Color”

Why Django Unchained Action Figures Are Brilliant