On Tuesday, H&M made headlines for the controversy surrounding a marketing image of a hoodie, worn by a Black boy, featuring the text “coolest monkey in the jungle”.
The word “monkey” can sometimes be used as a racial slur used to dehumanize Black people, reducing them to sub-human creatures; in fact, it was this very argument that many White slave owners used to justify the cruel practice, claiming that Black people were no different than our primate cousins. The hoodie, paired with the young Black model, is therefore racially insensitive and completely inappropriate — H&M really should have known better.
Twitter was furious:
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 8, 2018
Whose idea was it at @hm to have this little sweet black boy wear a jumper that says ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’?
I mean. What. pic.twitter.com/6AJfMdQS4L
— Stephanie Yeboah (@NerdAboutTown) January 7, 2018
Nah. This was not an accident @hm.
These 2 shirts are talking to each other as a part of a line of clothing. Look at the message.
The shirt the white child is wearing doesn’t compare him to an animal but calls him a “jungle survivor expert.”
The Black child “a monkey”. pic.twitter.com/bdblYGDHIE
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) January 9, 2018
H&M released an apology, but by that point, irreparable damage had already been done; multiple brand partners, including G-Eazy and The Weeknd, issued statements denouncing the ad and cutting ties with the fashion company.
In regards to H&M pic.twitter.com/EuvWMmZ6XA
— G-Eazy (@G_Eazy) January 9, 2018
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 8, 2018
Both artists were praised for their decision to end their partnership with the corporation, but one Twitter user casually reminded The Weeknd that his outrage — while completely acceptable and appropriate — appeared selective.
you have a whole ass song where you say “got a sweet asian chick she go lo mein” https://t.co/rlNfFmLvnh
— Brian H. Park ✈️ (@brianhpark) January 9, 2018
The lyrics were referencing The Weeknd’s song, “Reminder”, which featured the line “Got a sweet Asian chick, she go Lo Mein”.
Netizens responded with mixed reactions to his tweet, which garnered over 30,000 likes and 8,000 retweets within a 24 hour period:
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image via Twitter / theweeknd