On Monday, H&M sparked outrage after featuring an online advertisement of a black boy wearing a green hoodie that read, “coolest monkey in the jungle.”
To make matters worse, people quickly noted that a similar sweatshirt with the words “survival expert” was modeled by a white boy. And while one Twitter user suggested that the hoodies could have easily been switched to avoid the whole controversy, H&M's tone-deaf decision is part of the problem.
So the black kid gets to wear the H&M sweater with "Coolest monkey in the jungle" and the white kid with "Survival expert". This is beyond disgusting. It's a projection of your neocolonial thinking. You won't see me anywhere near your shops these days @hm pic.twitter.com/5FS9HHvhKu
— big_deen (@big_deen75) January 8, 2018
Of course, celebrities including Selena Gomez’s former boo, The Weeknd, immediately slammed H&M for their racist undertone. The Canadian singer, who has collaborated with the Swedish retailer twice in the past, took to Twitter to announce he was cutting ties with the company following the incident. “Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I'm deeply offended and will not be working with [H&M] anymore," the 27-year-old tweeted.
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 8, 2018
Following all the backlash, H&M removed the offensive image from their site and afforded an apology in response. “We understand that many people are upset about the image. We, who work at H&M, can only agree,” H&M told The Washington Post in a statement. “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,” they added.
It's incidents like this that make us wonder who on Earth approves an ad?