An apology from international retail giant H&M was not enough to quell the widespread anger over a promotional image that many have described as racist because it shows a black child wearing a sweatshirt with the words, “Coolest monkey in the jungle.”
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 8, 2018
Groups of protesters in South Africa answered the call from an opposition party to demonstrate at six H&M stores in the country. Many of the protesters were dressed in red that is the signature of the Economic Freedom Fighters as they proceeded to ransack some of the stores, tearing down displays and throwing clothes around in the process.
— Ntobeng Ntobeng (@ntobengndo) January 13, 2018
In at least one store, police fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, some of whom were allegedly stealing clothing.
#sapsGP Several incidents of protests at H&M stores around the province have been reported. At the East Rand Mall the protesters managed to enter the shop & stole several items. #SAPS members had to intervene and dispersed the group of protesters by firing rubber bullets. SW pic.twitter.com/4tX528zgW2
— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) January 13, 2018
Floyd Shivambu, a leader of the EFF, posted several pictures on Twitter of ransacked H&M stores, writing: “All rational people should agree that the store should not be allowed to continue operating in South Africa.”
That @hm nonsense of a clothing store is now facing consequences for its racism. All rational people should agree that the store should not be allowed to continue operating in South Africa. Well done to Fighters who physically confronted racism. pic.twitter.com/cgdedYGoOj
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) January 13, 2018
H&M has closed all its stores in the country temporarily out of concern for the safety of employees and customers. The company issued a long apology that is displayed prominently on its South Africa website:
We agree with all the criticism that this has generated – we have got this wrong and we agree that, even if unintentional, passive or casual racism needs to be eradicated wherever it exists. We appreciate the support of those who have seen that our product and promotion were not intended to cause offence but, as a global brand, we have a responsibility to be aware of and attuned to all racial and cultural sensitivities – and we have not lived up to this responsibility this time.
This incident is accidental in nature, but this doesn’t mean we don’t take it extremely seriously or understand the upset and discomfort it has caused.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Slate, Daniel Politi