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Kenyan boy caught in online storm over “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle Monkey” label

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Kenyan boy caught in online storm over “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle Monkey” label

Kenyan boy caught in online storm over “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle Monkey” label
January 10
20:43 2018

BY BMJ MURIITHI

A Kenyan woman who goes by the name of Terry Mango has claimed that she is the  mother of a black boy at the centre of a racism storm involving Swedish-headquartered  multinational clothing retail company, H&M, which has branches all over the world, including the United States.

In a photo which has gone viral, the boy, who is modelling for American fashion powerhouse, wears a green hoodie with the message “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.”

The image has been condemned across the board, with some calling it “blatant insult to the black race.”

What is even more disturbing is that two white boys pictured with the black boy do not have any derogatory label on their clothing.

On Wednesday, H&M sent out an email to all its customers apologising over the racial slur.

However, the mother shocked internet users when, in a series of social media posts, said categorically that there was nothing wrong with the message on “My son’s hoodie.”

The woman says she is a Kenyan who works in Sweden.

“I am the mum and this is one of the hundreds of outfits my son has modelled. Stop crying wolf all the time … Get over it. If I bought the jumper and put it on him and posted it on my pages would that make me racist? I get people’s opinions but they are not mine,” wrote Ms Mango.

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APOLOGY

In its apology, H&M said it had taken down the image. It further stated the hoodie has also been removed from its product offering.

“We would like to put on record our position in relation to the controversial image of our hoodie. Our position is simple, we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry,” read part of the statement.

The social media went wild over the use of the black boy in the ad. Many posted messages accusing the clothing brand of racism for using a black child to convey the message written on the hoodie.

Many artistes took to Twitter to protest saying they had cancelled any kind of partnership with H&M.

Celebrated NBA player Lebron James wrote: “[H&M] u got us all wrong! And we ain’t going for it! Straight up! Enough about y’all and more of what I see when I look at this photo.”

EMBARRASSED

“Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore…” tweeted one musician.

There were also reports that American rapper, P Diddy, has offered the boy a modelling contract worth Sh103 million ($1 million) to work with his clothing line, Sean John.

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Elsewhere, Manchester United player Romelu Lukaku also posted an altered version of the advertisement with “black is beautiful” inscribed on the hoodie.

Lukaku wrote: “You’re a prince, soon to be a king. Don’t let anybody tell you different #blackexcellence.”

Below is the full apology from H&M:

H&M STORE.

H&M ISSUES UNEQUIVOCAL APOLOGY FOR POORLY JUDGED PRODUCT AND IMAGE

To all customers, staff, media, stakeholders, partners, suppliers, friends and critics. We would like to put on record our position in relation to the image and promotion of a children’s sweater, and the ensuing response and criticism. Our position is simple and unequivocal – we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry.

9 JAN, 2018

H &M is fully committed to playing its part in addressing society’s issues and problems, whether it’s diversity, working conditions or environmental protection – and many others. Our standards are high and we feel that we have made real progress over the years in playing our part in promoting diversity and inclusion. But we clearly haven’t come far enough.

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.

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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.

We have taken down the image and we have removed the garment in question from sale. It will be recycled.

We will now be doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again in future.

Racism and bias in any shape or form, conscious or unconscious, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable and need to be eradicated from society. In this instance we have not been sensitive enough to this agenda.

Please accept our humble apologies.

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