After an image of a young African American boy advertising an H&M hoodie that read “coolest monkey in the jungle” was shared across the internet, H&M removed the hoodie from it’s website and will have an increase in sales and discounts offered to its customers.
H&M’s advertisement of the young boy was inappropriate and unprofessional because it visually stated an offensive stereotype.
The stereotype of calling African Americans monkeys has been around for centuries. This labeling was used to make other races (though particularly common for the white race) feel superior to the African American race. During times of slavery, white people used this term to distance themselves as far away from African Americans as possible to ensure that their race would remain a natural subrace as opposed to the “superior” white race. It was a way to justify treating African Americans like animals. The label was very popular and is well-known today.
H&M’s decision to even allow the opportunity to imply that they were calling a young African American boy a monkey is tone deaf and careless. This label is well enough known and H&M’s marketing team should have considered at least choosing a child of a different race when advertising the product.
If H&M insists on creating graphic hoodies or other products, advertisers for these products should be knowledgeable on stereotypes and other social issues before releasing an advertisement that could be disrespectful.