There are two types of people in this world. Those who can’t believe a huge brand such as H&M would place a boy of colour in this sweater and those who have no idea what the issue is.
Firstly, before you get on your high privileged white shiny horse, yes, racism exists and yes POC are still being referred to as Monkeys. Coolest Monkey In The Jungle would not be a compliment in many, many parts of this world. Whether it’s not apparent in your kumbaya-tight-knit-circle, it still happens.
Now I’m not going to sit here and blame H&M entirely for this almighty f**k up. Where was the mother I hear? Did they edit the statement on afterwards? I’m not here for that. The problem is, brands such as H&M don’t seem to have the right types of people high up behind the scenes. Remember those two types of people that I mentioned in my intro? Yep, them. It seems like they only have one type of person okaying these campaigns.
We’ve seen lots of commercials and advertisements being more inclusive or diverse if you must use that word. Here in the UK, we saw a Muslim animated character in a 2017 Christmas ad and an all black family two Christmases back. Half the country lost their shit. Babes, it really is that deep over here. People seem to think that POC don’t represent Christmas… news flash haters, Jesus was not blonde with blue eyes. Google Jerusalem.
I cannot believe that in 2018 I’ve already discussed the fact that blacking up in any form is offensive, we are 8 days into this new year. I cannot believe, in fact, scratch that, I can believe that a Brand such as H&M promotes diversity through advertising (and floor staff), but behind the scenes there doesn’t seem to be many (sensible) black folk.
All these companies need to employ some kind of race relations type who is media trained, particularly in Black Twitter so they can say yay, or nay. Better yet, GTFOOH that is insensitive BS and is a really, really bad idea, guys. It wouldn’t be hard to find someone, perhaps that lady who wrote that pocket guide? Dear white people, would ya like to know how to talk to non-whites in the workplace.
You know what, Google is your friend, you could actually google this. “Would a POC be offended by referring to them as a monkey”. Computer says yes.
“Coolest Monkey in The Jungle is a no, no guys. Stop the shoot, swap the sweaters over. The blonde kid is now wearing the sweater, crisis diverted and over”.
I can understand if you’ve never encountered racism, or if you don’t really understand how or why it happens. You sweet angelic people have been sheltered from the dark uneducated few. That’s fine. You haven’t been called the “N” word whilst minding your own damn business. You’ve never had to ask your mum what “coon” means after a pretty rough day at school. I get it. You probably don’t even have (real) black friends. But and I use that word strongly, but, you could educate yourself by perhaps listening.
Coolest Monkey in the Jungle… not ok, even if that one black guy you know who goes out with your friends, sisters cousins says it’s ok, it’s not.
Don’t brush these things off by saying that people are too sensitive. It’s not your place to tell us or even me that I shouldn’t find Gollywogs offensive because they were your cute lil’ bedtime companion that you hold so dearly as a childhood memory.
MIL, I love you, but I really didn’t need to name my Black cat ‘Blackie’, I will side-eye anyone who calls my kid a ‘cheeky little monkey’ and for those so-called friends that blacked up as Stevie Wonder and Gloria Gains at that party… go f*** yourself.
Coolest Monkey in the Jungle, please call your mum and tell her that I apologise for the swearing.
Oh, and brands, get some damn black folks high up in your company so you don’t make this mistake again, thus forcing me to shop elsewhere.
11/01/17 EDIT: After thinking about it, reading comments and responding to people that don’t understand, I’ve decided not to shop at H&M. It’s a shame because I have always loved their clothing and as an ex-employee, I’m really disappointed in their past actions regarding race. (H&M Apologizes For Implying White Models Convey A More ‘Positive Image’).
I’ve always been an advocate for small businesses, so let me put my money where it’s appreciated.
*The bigwigs from H&M have actually apologised for the faux pas, I had to add that because come on, I am fair.
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Sareta Fontaine is the founder of Kiki Blah-Blah; a modern lifestyle blog aimed initially at mum’s but has since grown. Since 2016, Sareta has worked on the platform, both designing and creating a space for other bloggers to share their thoughts and feelings, while also sharing hers.