H&M is under major scrutiny for what many are claiming to be a racially suggestive hoodie. It didn’t take long for social media to catch on to the fashion brand’s biggest uh-oh yet. Black Lives Matter advocates accused H&M for its blatant racist imagery and slammed them for trying to subliminally make fun of the young model.
The billion dollar Sweden based retailer, with stores all around the world, even issued an apology over the controversial image of a young black child modeling a hoodie with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” printed on it. A spokesperson for the company told the EW on Monday, “We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print. We have removed the image from all our channels and the sweater is no longer for sale in our stores. We will also look into our internal routines to avoid such situations in the future.”
The likes of Lebron James, Diddy, Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku and even The Weekend who also partners with the retailer expresses outrage and disappointment at the company’s carelessness.
Lebron James uploaded this remake of the photo to his instagram saying, “@HM u got us all wrong! And we ain’t going for it! Straight up! Enough about y’all and more of what I see when I look at this photo. I see a Young King!! The ruler of the world, an untouchable Force that can never be denied! We as African Americans will always have to break barriers, prove people wrong and work even harder to prove we belong but guess what, that’s what we love because the benefits at the end of the road are so beautiful!!” Many of his followers expressed the same sentiments yet some were a little reluctant to see his point. One of his followers said, “I don’t think @HM meant to offend anyone people come on. Shit happens!!!! Why is this being taken as racism? It’s a picture man, the parents obviously allowed the kid to take that picture wearing that hoodie. Didn’t offend them! Are we that sensitive as a society?”
Diddy also uploaded a similar photo to his twitter with the caption, “Put some respect on it!! When you look at us make sure you see royalty and super natural God sent glory!! Anything else is disrespectful.” He too received a mass of tweets, retweets and comments agreeing with his position on the matter yet there were also those who disagreed with the general opinion.
Was this really just a careless accident? Or was H&M intentionally trying present the image of this young model as the butt of their monkey joke? Regardless of their intent, what remains true is that in 2018, race is still a major defining factor in the way we view others, but more importantly in the way we view ourselves. This “coolest monkey in the jungle” caption became very personal to those who took offense but the question must be asked, if the model in the ad was white, would the picture still receive the same response? What if the caption said “coolest lion in the jungle” would it still create the same negative connotation against black people?
Is it the unforgettable knowledge of slavery and the negative comparisons of the features of a black person and that of a monkey what makes this advertisement racist?Understanding that history plays a major role in the way society sees race and color, will there ever come a time when a person’s race or the color of their skin not predicate one’s judgement?