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H&M apologizes for posing black child model in ‘coolest monkey’ hoodie

Locals call for boycott of the store and sensitivity training


Fast-fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz, better known as H&M, caused a social media storm this weekend for posing a black child model in a hoodie that read “coolest monkey in the jungle.”

“Monkey” has long been considered a racial slur directed to people of African descent.

On Monday morning the image had been removed from the website and H&M issued an apology.

"This image has now been removed from all H&M channels and we apologize to anyone this may have offended," said H&M spokeswoman Anna Eriksson .

The image had appeared on H&M’s e-commerce site in the UK and was quickly shared on Twitter with many comments labeling the ad and the company racist or racially insensitive.

Others suggested it may have been a careless mistake, but one that the company should have immediately noticed and corrected. Still others said that the critics were reading too much into the image and being too politically correct.

One post in response to the chatter featured an H&M image of a young Asian model wearing a sweatshirt with a tiger, suggesting that H&M has shown its racial insensitivity in the past. Several others who commented felt the parents of the young boy in the photo are to blame for not speaking up during the photo shoot.

Locally, the president of Black Lives Matter Greater Atlanta called for a boycott of the stores, which includes more than one dozen locations  in metro Atlanta. And the King Center tweeted that companies should invest in cultural competency and sensitivity training.

It isn’t the first time the Swedish company has run into charges of racial insensitivity. In 2015, the brand came under fire after launching its first store in South Africa with a noticeable lack of diversity. All of the models were white and the company apologized after sending a tweet suggesting that those models offered a more positive representation of the company.


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.