Was H&M's seemingly racist advert intentional?
People, especially people of colour are outraged by Swedish clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) over an advertisement that the colthing giant posted on their website. The ad shows a little black boy wearing a hoodie with the inscription, 'Coolest Monkey in the Jungle".
There have been thousands of reactions on social media, with many people calling the advert racist. Historically, the word monkey has been used as a racial slur against black people so one can't help but wonder why they would pick a black boy to wear that particular hoodie.
H&M is not the only retail brand to run controversial adverts in the recent past, just this past October, Dove came under fire for running an advert where a black woman turns white (after using Dove?).
Celebrities have also taken to social media to show their disgust. Canadian Musician, The Weeknd in a statement on Twitter said, “Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo, I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore…” The Weeknd began working with the clothing brand in 2017 with a modelling campaign. Other celebrities like Le Bron James and P Diddy shared a photoshopped image of the hoodie with a crown, depicitng the boy as a young king.
H&M apologised for the “monkey” image, and removed the image from its website. They promised to pull the shirt from stores worldwide in light of the controversy that had developed. “We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print,” the company said in a statement. “Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.”
One can't help but wonder, companies that go through an entire internal process of approval and still run ads that offend a particular racial group, is it intentional or are they really clueless? The best response so far has been from Producer Yaba Blay who Tweeted, "I hereby publicly offer my services to companies who got the memo that they really should diversify their imagery and include Black people, BUT who don't know enough about the history of racism and representation to do it properly and/or well," and cc'd Dove.
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