Retailer H&M have come under fire for using an image of black child in a hoodie reading ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’. This has been described as ‘deeply offensive’ and ‘disturbing’ by musicians such as The Weeknd and G-Eazy who had collaborated with the clothing company. The tone deaf image has lead to a number of complaints online.
H&M have apologised both on their website and their instagram feed.
It is a particularly egregious ad because of the use of monkey by racists as a way to describe black people.
H&M’s Statement says:
H&M is fully committed to playing its part in addressing society’s issues and problems, whether it’s diversity, working conditions or environmental protection – and many others. Our standards are high and we feel that we have made real progress over the years in playing our part in promoting diversity and inclusion. But we clearly haven’t come far enough.
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.
This incident is accidental in nature, but this doesn’t mean we don’t take it extremely seriously or understand the upset and discomfort it has caused.
We have taken down the image and we have removed the garment in question from sale. It will be recycled.
We will now be doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again in future.
Racism and bias in any shape or form, conscious or unconscious, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable and need to be eradicated from society. In this instance we have not been sensitive enough to this agenda.
Please accept our humble apologies.
This is an incredibly tone deaf move by H&M, but that’s what I believe it is, it is racist, but I don’t believe it was intentionally so. We have another story on H&M which will be posted in the next few days which shows both females and POC’s as really positive role models.
I don’t think the fact it is unintentional though is a reason to not publicise it though I’m pleased they have made, what I believe to be, a genuine apology. It does, however, raise an issue about the fact that no-one saw this ad and thought it was inappropriate. A company the size of H&M needs quality control that does not let this happen, questions need to be asked about their diversity and sensitivity and maybe they need to look at the fact that their board is all white and that does not represent real life or their customer base.
No company in this day and age should be making a mistake like this, there is no excuse for not one person involved in this process seeing a problem here. H&M must see this as an opportunity to put in place checks and training to stop this happening again as well as finding out why no-one stopped it happening this time.