Clothing retailer H&M has found itself in the midst of a racial controversy after allowing a black child to model a “coolest monkey in the jungle” hoodie on its UK website. Many people were quick to point out that using the term monkey when referring to a black person is a racist trope that dates back centuries, and having this young boy wear the sweatshirt was at best, not well thought out. One outraged person on Twitter wrote, “You know the history of racist using the term ‘monkey’ to demean people of African descent… and you put this on your website!” Another person noted that a similar sweatshirt featuring a white model said he was a “jungle survivor,” “this is inappropriate, offensive, and racist. Why is the white kid “a jungle survivor” and the black kid the “coolest monkey in the jungle?” How do you think this is okay?”
It’s often the case in incidents like this one, that there was not someone involved (particularly a person of color), in the shooting and uploading of this photo that could have pointed out the issue earlier. While we’re not sure that was the case here, the fact remains that diversity and diversity training is important factor in situations such as this one. H&M has since removed the photo from their site but has not commented.
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