Following a huge backlash against a controversial H&M advert, labelled as ‘racist’, the mother of the child model at the centre of the debate has now spoken out. Shoppers and celebrities alike called for people to boycott the Swedish fashion chain after they noticed the advert for a children’s hoodie emblazoned with the phrase ‘Coolest Monkey In The Jungle’. It was modelled by a black child while the other items in the same category were modelled by white children, but the model’s mother has said she doesn’t see a problem.
The word ‘monkey’ has a long, dark history of being used as a racial slur against black people, used in the past as a way of disconnected them other humans.
The boy’s mother, Terry Mango, has no problem with the advert and took to social media to endorse it.
Mango wrote on Facebook:
That’s my son…av [sic] been to all photo shoots and this was not an exception, everyone is entitled to their opinion about this.
This is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modelled… stop crying Wolf all the time, unnecessary issue.
Pointing out how the word ‘monkey’ has been a long-term racist slur, Twitter users took to social media to criticise the store and draw attention to its astonishing lack of awareness.
Alex Medina said:
Yo H&M you need to explain yourself. What the hell is this?
In the year 2018 there’s no way brands/art directors can be this negligent and lack awareness.
If [you] look at other sweaters in same category they have white kids. We have to do better.
Karamo Brown also voiced his anger tweeting:
This is disgusting and irresponsible. You know the history of racists using the term ‘monkey’ to demean people of African descent… and you put this on your website! ‘Coolest Monkey In the Jungle’!
In the wake of the scandal, the image of the black child modelling the £7.99 top has since been taken down, although H&M are yet to release an official statement addressing the controversy.
This isn’t the first time the high street fashion chain has been accused of racism.
Two years ago, H&M opened its first stores in South Africa, in Sandton and Cape Town but it didn’t exactly go as planned.
Shockingly, there was a lack of black models on the posters which filled the stores and understandably, caused quite the backlash.
As reported by the Sunday Times, things were only made worse when H&M responded to the claims saying their intention was to convey ‘a positive feeling’.
By saying this, the company seems to be implying black models don’t fit in with the positive image they want to achieve.