Popular fashion retailer H&M caught heat this weekend for using a Black boy to sell a hoodie adorned with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle.”
Twitter users were outraged by the since-deleted image of the hoodie—advertised on the Swedish company’s website as a “printed hooded top”—pointing out the historical racist undertones of comparing, or calling, Black people monkeys and apes. New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted the photo with a question for the company: “have you lost your damned minds?!?!?!”
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 8, 2018
Models for Diversity, a U.K.-based organization that advocates for diversity among models, also slammed the company in a tweet on Monday morning, writing, “And then H&M UK got the bright idea to feature a black boy model with ‘Coolest Monkey in the Jungle’ hoodie on its website. How on earth can this be? SHAME ON YOU !”
— Models Of Diversity (@ModsOfDiversity) January 8, 2018
H&M sent the following statement to the Daily Dot: “We sincerely apologize for this image. It has now been 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.”
Some Twitter users attributed the ad to a lack of cultural awareness, suggesting that H&M made the post out of pure ignorance, not malice.
Others were less willing to absolve the company of its sins since more than one person had to have seen or approved the ad before it went up. One Twitter user posted a side-by-side comparison of the “coolest monkey” hoodie and another H&M ad featuring a white boy in an orange hoodie with the words “Mangrove Jungle Survival Expert.”
but wait for it…there’s also the loaded message on the orange hoodie…the junior tour guide & jungle official survivor expert…the entire narrative is a fail for 2018. pic.twitter.com/8hpHQPxOgQ
— paisley (@alwayspaisley) January 8, 2018
“The entire narrative is a fail for 2018,” she added.
Meanwhile, @Mimicgawd offered his own “fixed” version of the ad, featuring a drawing of the boy wearing the hoodie with the words “Coolest kid in the racist ass H&M catalog.”
H/T the Root