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H&M Called Racist for Putting Black Boy in Racially Slurred Hoodie
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Monkey Hoodie

Summary: An image of a black boy modeling a green hoodie with the words “monkey in the jungle” got H&M into deep trouble on social media over the weekend.

Someone at Sweden-based clothing store H&M clearly was not thinking about the history of slavery and names often given to mock African Americans when they came up with a slogan to be put on a kids hoodie. The clothing giant put a black boy in a hoodie with the words “COOLEST MONKEY IN THE JUNGLE,” to the displeasure of many.


H&M quickly removed the image of the hoodie, which was available on their store’s United Kingdom page as a “printed hooded top.” A number of social media users alerted the store on Sunday to the distasteful image, calling it an insensitive connection between the black model and a racial slur against black people. One such user was blogger Stephanie Yeboah. She took a screen shot of the image, which quickly went viral.

A British-based group, Models for Diversity, advocates for inclusion in the fashion industry. They called out H&M on Twitter, questioning them on how the photo even made it through the marketing department and onto the website. The tweeted, “@hm And then H&M UK got the bright idea to feature a black boy model with ‘Coolest Monkey in the Jundle’ hoodie on its website. How on earth can this be? SHAME ON YOU!”

H&M said in a statement to The Washington Post from its Stockholm headquarters, “We understand that many people are upset about the image. We, who work at H&M, can only agree. We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print. Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally. It is obvious that our routines have not been followed properly. This is without any doubt. We will thoroughly investigate why this happened to prevent this type of mistake from happening again.”

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They replaced the photo of the boy with a generic photo of the hoodie. There are two other versions of the hoodie with other slogans, featured on white models.

Retail strategist Wendy Liebmann explained that “Sometimes this happens – a global company is not sensitive to another culture, another political commentary. This is something that is relevant across the world. So not to be sensitive to that is an everyday issue; it’s not just the times we live in. This is a consciousness that we should all have at any time – not just at these heightened times.”

Liebmann, chief executive of WSL Strategic Retail, added that today’s society processes things differently, “We’re much more sensitive and much more overt in expressing ourselves,” otherwise social media users blow up more quickly.

There were a few social media users that came to the defense of H&M. One Twitter user said, “Am I the only one who doesn’t feel h&m meant it like that with the black little baby in the monkey shirt? Kids wear little cute stuff like that all the time.”

H&M is not the first clothing company to make a mistake, others include Urban Outfitters, Zara, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Personal care brand Dove also had their own racial problem this summer. These brands were able to mostly recover by quickly apologizing for the oversight and removing the product.

Do you think the photo is a big deal? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about the trouble other clothing brands have gone through, read these articles:




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