Add H&M to the list of retailers to come under fire. The retail giant sparked a massive controversy when they released a photo of a black child wearing a sweatshirt with the words, “COOLEST MONKEY IN THE JUNGLE” on the British version of their website. The marketing sparked outrage from customers and is now being called “racist” due to the historical racial undertones of the word “monkey.”
The Internet immediately called for a boycott of the company. One Twitter user wrote, “Here’s why your ad has caused outrage: There is painful history of dehumanizing black people by comparing us to monkeys and apes. Your ad features a black child in a sweatshirt that says “coolest monkey in the jungle”. 1+1=2 You should have known better #boycottHandM.” It also doesn’t help that the Swedish retail company included white children in similar hoodies, but with very different writing on them.
“This is inappropriate, offensive, and racist. Why is the white kid “a jungle survivor” and the black kid the “coolest monkey in the jungle”? How do you think this is okay?” another user asked. “REMOVE this and the clothing piece. This is completely distasteful!”
H&M has since issued an apology for the photographs that appeared on their website an has since removed them. “We sincerely apologize for this image,” H&M’s media-relations team said in a statement. “It has been now removed from all online channels, and the product will not be for sale in the United States. We believe in diversity and inclusion in all that we do and will be reviewing our internal routines.”
But, is that enough to satisfy the public? Canadian singer The Weeknd, who has collaborated with H&M to launch two collections in 2017, has already cut ties with the brand. He tweeted, “Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore…” Well, let’s hope the company will be more aware moving forward.