Words by Comfort Nnana Kalu
H&M is facing hot water and being dragged all around as a result of a recent shoot featuring a black boy wearing a sweatshirt with the phrase “Coolest monkey in the jungle.” Now, H&M is undergoing further backlash in South Africa as mannequins are tumbles, clothes are thrown around and people vandalize the stores in South Africa in response.
The Economic Freedom Fighters Party organized the protest and the vandalizing took place at multiple locations in the South African capital many days after H&M apologized for their decision.
“We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print. Therefore, w have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.”
Floyd Shivambu, who is the spokesperson of the movement, expressed support of the vandalism by tweeting that “racism must fall.” Other reactions are that G-Eazy and The Weeknd have cut their deals with H&M and in the process they have lost millions of dollars but want to stand in the movement of social responsibility.
Over the past months I was genuinely excited about launching my upcoming line and collaboration with @HM… Unfortunately, after seeing the disturbing image yesterday, my excitement over our global campaign quickly evaporated, and I've decided at this time our partnership needs to end. Whether an oblivious oversight or not, it's truly sad and disturbing that in 2018, something so racially and culturally insensitive could pass by the eyes of so many (stylist, photographer, creative and marketing teams) and be deemed acceptable. I can't allow for my name and brand to be associated with a company that could let this happen. I hope that this situation will serve as the wake up call that H&M and other companies need to get on track and become racially and culturally aware, as well as more diverse at every level.