2018 started out with H&M facing backlash after placing a young black male in a racially insensitive sweatshirt. At its branch in the United Kingdom, H&M placed a beautiful black boy named, Liam in a green hoodie with the words, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” printed on the hoodie.
Many don’t see what the problem is, so let me explain it to you. Historically, black people have been viewed as anything but a child of God. Black people were viewed as property and animals for centuries. You would think after the end of slavery and segregation, and Barack Obama being the best president ever, that racism wouldn’t be a major issue. It’s still a major problem, not just in the United States, but all over the world.
Many people were outraged and angry at H&M. Some people expressed their anger on social media and decided to stop shopping at H&M. Celebrities such as G-Eazy and The Weeknd ended their business relationships with H&M. In South Africa, some protesters vandalized the store. This was the beginning of the turmoil H&M was about to face.
Since being blasted for being racist, H&M decided to speak out. First, the Swedish company gave an apology that seem very insensitive.
“This image has now been removed from all H&M channels and we apologize to anyone this may have offended,” stated H&M headquarters.
They took the picture down out of all channels, but the hoodie can still be purchased anywhere but in the United States. H&M even hired a diversity manager so incidents like this will not happen again. Where were the diversity managers, public relation managers, and the marketing specialists before the image was published on the website?
This is not the first time that H&M has been called out for their racism. In 2015, H&M had no black models featured in their South African division. When they were confronted about the issue, H&M responded via Twitter that “white models portray more positivity”.
So how do I feel about this racial issue. Well I don’t. I’m very numb to it because this happens all the time. Is it wrong, yes? Was I angry when I first saw it, yes. But that’s just the world we live in. They want to be like us, but they don’t want to respect us. I’m happy that people are using their voices and not letting the disrespect slide anymore. Sadly, I have gotten so immune to racist actions by corporations that I’m waiting to see who’s next. Who’s next to try us black people?!
It seems like ever since 45 decided to be viewed in the political eye, many people and corporations have been voluntary but creatively vocal about how they feel about race relations. Papa Johns, Pepsi, and Dove are some of the few corporations who faced backlash for causing racial tension. As consumers, we have the power to hold corporations accountable for their actions. We should understand the power of the dollar and without us, these corporations will be nothing. But when a corporation has 80% off, what are you supposed to do?
The parents of Liam were asked about their accountability with H&M. Basically, they defended H&M and saw nothing wrong with their young child wearing the hoodie. Of course, you would not see anything wrong with it when you are getting a check. After this fiasco, you should understand that the dollar matters and as a consumer you dictate what matters. Corporations depend on us. Many people don’t understand or value this concept. Having the right to support and shop anywhere is powerful. Whether you shop at local businesses, all black businesses, or larger corporations, what comes first your values or a sale?