H&M agreed to work with South African marketers to help tackle racism after its offensive “Monkey” hoodie ad prompted protests in January.
The retail giant had been dragged through the flames after it posted the racist ad that featured a Black child in a “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle” hoodie. Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) held demonstrations against the international clothing retailer at its shops in South Africa after the incident. H&M shops were trashed and closed.
H&M admitted wrongdoing and met with the Anti-Racism Network South Africa (ARNSA) following a letter sent to the retailer, Neeshan Balton, director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, an organization dedicated to “deepening non-racialism in post-apartheid South Africa,” said to The Citizen, a South Africa newspaper.
”They admitted they were wrong and are trying to understand how to undo their mistake,” Balton said. “Part of that engagement was because of the EFF demonstration. We had planned a demonstration after the EFF launched their protest, we could not proceed because we couldn’t match their scale.”
Balton continued, ”Subsequent to that, the H&M global human resources head and the transformation officer arrived in the country and agreed to work with the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, and ensure that [the] South African management team and staff fully understand the complexity of race relations and racism in the country. We are mindful that had the EFF not done what they did, H&M would never have agreed to meet with the ARNSA.”
As part of H&M’s agreement, the company would also look into their procurement policy. The retail giant’s store furniture, shop fittings and advertising were not sourced from South Africa, Bolton explained. H&M has more work to do when it comes to racial sensitivity, and the world doesn’t want another #Hoodiegate.
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