On Monday, the retail company apologized for a “racist” ad featuring a young, black boy wearing a sweatshirt that read, “Coolest monkey in the jungle” and pulled the item from stores, after major social media backlash.
“We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken and we also regret the actual print,” H&M said in a statement. “Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.”
But the public was outraged, demanding a store boycott on Twitter.
Can’t be more confused and disgusted. H&M decided to put the black boy in a “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hoody and the white boy in a “Survival Expert” hoody. Can’t believe it’s 2018 and this offensive sickening racism still exists. We all must boycott H&M till they apologize. pic.twitter.com/OdynDKupjS
— BASH (@XIBash) January 8, 2018
— Models Of Diversity (@ModsOfDiversity) January 8, 2018
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 8, 2018
If I felt that H&M was being malicious and intentional, I’d be outraged. But I just think, as most white owned brands with low minority representation, they weren’t aware of the perception that ad could come with. The solution is bigger than a boycott.
Hire black people.
— Ash Money Records ™️ (@LightsPlease___) January 8, 2018
It’s no accident that the black boy had the monkey jacket. Not at all. H&M can kick rocks… pic.twitter.com/8tWYcUjaxv
— TheGrandeDame (@Itsonlyreal) January 8, 2018
When asked by an audience member for her take on the controversial ad campaign, Banks said, “One thing we have to remember — and I might get skewered for this — those choices are not necessarily those of the CEO of H&M. It can be eight people on a set or one buyer buying something and giving it to a person on set and people ruin a company’s reputation.”
Banks added, “So we have to remember that and try to get to the root of, ‘Who the hell put that sweatshirt on that beautiful black baby? Who put it on him?’ Not who made it — but who put it on him. That’s the person to really focus on. And then who printed that shit? Not necessarily the CEO, but who are these people who did that? And I would love for us to try to get deeper into the ‘who,’ not the ‘what.’”
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 8, 2018
“There’s nothing fundamentally offensive about the term ‘Monkey’ but context should be considered. If a group of diverse children wore the sweatshirt, this wouldn’t be an issue,” Anita Jones Thomas, dean of the College of Applied Behavior Sciences at the University of Indianapolis and a specialist in multicultural psychology, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“Condemning the CEO for the ad is counterproductive because that person isn’t making on-the-ground decisions like photo approval,” she says. “However, if there’s a company culture without diversity, equality, and inclusion, that’s a problem. It’s 2018 — we don’t have time to wait for people to catch up.”
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