On Sunday evening (Jan 7.) social media went abrupt over an advertisement by Swedish based retailer H&M which featured a young black boy in a green hoodie with a slogan that read “coolest monkey in the jungle.”
The advertisement was found to be severely racist upon the identity of the black race, especially since two other hoodies from the same line, one with the slogan “survival expert” and another with a collage of animals were modeled by white children.
H&M issued an apology on Tuesday (Jan. 9) admitting that they have fallen short in the department of promoting diversity due to their inability to be conscious of all racial and cultural discernment.
“We agree with all the criticism that this has generated – we have got this wrong and we agree that, even if unintentional, passive or casual racism needs to be eradicated wherever it exists. We appreciate the support of those who have seen that our product and promotion were not intended to cause offence but, as a global brand, we have a responsibility to be aware of and attuned to all racial and cultural sensitivities – and we have not lived up to this responsibility this time.”
— H&M (@hm) January 9, 2018
The “coolest monkey in the jungle” hoodie was featured on the British version of H&M’s online store. According to the Swedish retailer, the hoodie has since been removed and will be converted into reusable material. Perhaps, to design a more appropriate product.
“We have taken down the image and we have removed the garment in question from sale. It will be recycled.”
Musicians G-Eazy and The Weeknd who both garnered endorsement deals with the retailer have publicly ended their partnerships due to the incident. Nicki Minaj, who currently has a partnership with the brand and appeared in recent ads, has yet to speak out on the matter and fans have put the “No Frauds” rapper under pressure to do so.
I’m just wondering when @NICKIMINAJ is pulling her support as well from H&M..
— ninafitlifestyle (@Ninafitlifestyl) January 9, 2018
Actor Jesse Williams, who gained mass acclaim from the black community after his speech at the 2016 BET Awards, where he denounced racism, starred in H&M’s recent holiday campaign with Nicki Minaj, and spoke out against the brand on Instagram, labeling the incident as a “pathetic excuse for corporate behavior and [ir]responsibility.”
Just getting back from vacation to see this pathetic excuse for corporate behavior and [ir]responsibility. Last year I chose to do a holiday campaign w/ @HM specifically because it centered women and girls as imaginative doers; because it centered an intelligent dark skinned girl w/ natural hair as protagonist; because it featured a loving, creative, working class black family. And then, here they come with this bullshit… These offenses are more about the makeup of the rooms where they happen, than the items they produce. There is a concentration of power, committed to exclusion, whether casual, accidental or conscious. The collateral damage of this corporate, colonial mind-state occurs several times a year, and it’s predictable the world over, like the seasons, so when i laid eyes on it, my initial reaction was neither shock nor anger. It was boredom. This old world, white power, failing-upward culture of reckless trampling that repeatedly exposes itself, is boring already. Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you bored watching mediocre, incurious & consequently destructive people waltz through your life, shepherded into positions of power, further choking off opportunity for the actually talented, curious & decent among us? It’s a truly desperate and bizarre ritual we’ve become conditioned to. A ritual that WILL go the way of the confederate flag: A relic of a destructive juvenile “civilization,” disguised as harmless tradition. End relationships with your abusers. Make room for yourselves. #BuyBlack #BuyResponsibly #Make
The pressure is now on Nicki Minaj. Barbz have spent the last month flooding the retailer for the Queens rapper’s merch and now find themselves in a stuck position between giving their money to a now reputably racist brand and supporting their favorite rapper. Despite the apology, those who are true advocates for racial justice will refrain from supporting the brand. Perhaps, Minaj may speak out in the brand’s defense due gaining satisfaction from the “unequivocal apology” issued by the brand. Or, she may not. H&M claims to incident was “accidental in nature,” but vowed to take the issue seriously.