The backlash over H&M's ad featuring a young black child wearing a "coolest monkey in the jungle" hoodie is still raging on- and now the boy's mother has spoken out about the controversial ad. "We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print", the company said. "I can't allow for my name and brand to be associated with a company that could let this happen", the rapper further stated. I certainly wouldn't want to be working in the H&M PR department right now.
H&M made headlines for the hoodie, which has the slogan "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" written across the front. The monkey imagery and all other kinds of derogatory references like it continue to be a problem in our contemporary society, harking back to the days when we at large saw nothing wrong with owning people and exchanging them as property, commodities of the colonial endeavour. It is a shame that this young child is being brought into this conversation since he did not make this choice for himself, but serves as a reminder that companies, like H&M, need to make a bigger commitment to having diversity behind the scenes and not just with models.
The retailer apologised over the incident and said it had removed the image from its website and that the hoodie was no longer available to buy.
"I think they overlooked it".
Guess they didn't see that coming?
"We have been in contact with the child's mother and we have an ongoing dialogue with her on how we can support them", she said.
"H&M got us all wrong!"
What sparked the anger was when people online, including New York Times columnist Charles Blow, spotted the image and voiced their outrage. "We appreciate the support of those who have seen that our product and promotion were not meant to cause offense 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". We have to do better. We must continue to challenge such things that could be interpreted in these prejudiced ways even if it was unintended, as then, and only then, can we continue to edge closer to that perfectly unprejudiced world.