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South African protesters ransack H&M stores over 'racist' ad

16 Comments

Protesters angered by a"racist" H&M advertisement ransacked several of the Swedish fashion group's South African stores on Saturday.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) protesters targeted six H&M stores in the Gauteng province, where South Africa's economic hub of Johannesburg is located, tearing down shop displays and throwing clothes around, police said.

In one instance, officers fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, the police added.

H&M earlier this week issued an apology for the widely criticised ad, which featured a black child modelling a sweatshirt with the slogan "coolest monkey in the jungle", and said it had removed it from all its marketing.

But Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, spokesman for the ultra-left EFF, said that was too little, too late.

"The time of apologies for racism are over; there must be consequences to anti-black racism, period!" Ndlozi wrote on Twitter, posting pictures of a vandalised H&M store and video footage of chanting EFF supporters.

H&M South Africa did not respond to a request for comment, but its local website carried an apology for the advertisement.

"Our position is simple, we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry," the apology read.

Police said they were monitoring the protests, but that they had made no arrests so far.

Protests over perceived corporate wrongdoing have a history of turning violent in South Africa, where some drivers for ride-hailing service Uber have had their vehicles torched over the past year by regular taxi operators.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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"The time of apologies for racism are over; there must be consequences to anti-black racism, period!" 

So, was this stunt supposed to completely end anti-black racism once and for all, or generate infinitely more of it around the world? I'm confused.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

So...H&M have no one who thought that this slogan on the shirt "might" cause a problem? Considering that they are a lily white country company? Lack of foresight . Enormous corporate fail.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

My parents called me a "little monkey" thousands of times. It was because I liked climbing trees, jumping over things, and other acrobatic things. Had nothing to do with race.

I feel for H&M. They attempted to be inclusive and cute, but failed to consider hyper-sensitive terms for large groups of people in the location.

OTOH, parts of South Africa are pretty lawless. My last visit there, we were told where it was safe to be and when it wasn't safe to be even in the tourist areas - basically, after dark. Certainly, the warnings were overblown, but we did limit our evening excursions.

Stories like this just provide more reason NOT to invest or visit SA. Starting violence is never an answer for civilized people.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

H&M have no one who thought that this slogan on the shirt "might" cause a problem?

No, absolutely not! Why would they?! Seriously, are you suggesting that most people would instantly associate monkeys and black people? It's ridiculous to indulge this sort of lunacy. If you think that, I'd like you to tell me if this is also horribly racist and lacking foresight?

http://www.littlekokoro.com/the-cool-monkey-shirt-linen

People who are not familiar with South Africa need to understand that this was not just some spontaneous protest by ordinary people. It was organised by the EFF which is a radical militant black supremacist marxist political party. Their leader Julius Malema is a cross between a less inteligent Robert Mugabe, Idy Amin and Hugo Chavez. Remember his name because he may become the dictator of South Africa within our lifetimes. Here he is talking about it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ScdrhgNZSc

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Who at the Swedish company designed that shirt? Who at the Swedish company made the decision to send it out to stores? This reminds me of when Dis*** shipped child panties to stores that read, "jump in!" One wonders how these things ever make it to shelves.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let's think about this logically for a minute. What is the solution to avoid this problem in the future?

Do we a.) stop producing all monkey themed apparel, toys, etc, just because a group of racists have attached an alternative meaning to them, or b.) do we familiarise ourselves with all of these little racist memes and then stop hiring black models to promote these products online and in catalogues? The former seems unreasonable and the latter is actually horribly racist and unfair.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

One wonders how these things ever make it to shelves.

I don't believe anybody has taken offence to the design or content of the shirt itself. It was simply the fact that they hired a black model to wear it and that made it instantly racist according to some.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

M3M3M3Today 09:10 am JST

H&M have no one who thought that this slogan on the shirt "might" cause a problem?

No, absolutely not! Why would they?! Seriously, are you suggesting that most people would instantly associate monkeys and black people? It's ridiculous to indulge this sort of lunacy. If you think that, I'd like you to tell me if this is also horribly racist and lacking foresight?

http://www.littlekokoro.com/the-cool-monkey-shirt-linen

Its not lunacy. The term is well known as a derogatory name for people of African ethnic background. If you honestly weren't aware of this fact I suggest you speak to the nearest American (of any color) near you. Or at least go watch a few Hollywood movies.

Your link to a cute picture sweatshirt which has nothing to do with H&M or tis story is irrelevant. The H&M one isn't "cute" it's just words.

I don't have any sympathy for an organization like EFF, but H&M should have taken more caution.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

M3M3M3Today  09:46 am JST

Do we a.) stop producing all monkey themed apparel, toys, etc, just because a group of racists have attached an alternative meaning to them, 

The problem is not that the apparel was produced. The problem was that the advertising for it pictured that design on a black child.

It's the 21st century: if by this late of a date you still don't realize that connecting blackness with monkeys is a component of anti-black racism, you don't deserve to be in business.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@OssanAmerica

Its not lunacy. The term is well known as a derogatory name for people of African ethnic background. If you honestly weren't aware of this fact I suggest you speak to the nearest American

I'm certainly aware it exists in some racist corners, but it's not at the forefront of my mind and I would never allow it have so much power over me or anyone around me that I would let it to influence real world behaviour. If I worked at H&M, I would have been horrified if a co-worker of mine spoke up and said, "you know that coolest monkey in the jungle shirt? Let's not produce it, or at least let's make sure we don't get the black model to wear it since, you know,... the whole black people are monkeys thing that racists say". That would have been outrageous and nothing short of a complete surrender to racists in my opinion

Your link to a cute picture sweatshirt which has nothing to do with H&M or tis story is irrelevant. The H&M one isn't "cute" it's just words.

The link I posted is a black child model wearing a monkey shirt and nobody should have any problem with it. I don't see why cuteness would factor into it or the fact that one is words and the other is a picture.

@Katsu78

The problem is not that the apparel was produced. The problem was that the advertising for it pictured that design on a black child.

That's my understanding as well, but what is the solution? Is it option b.) where we don't hire any black child models for similar products? That is completely beyond the pale in my opinion, but it seems like the only way to guarantee that nobody is offended about monkeys. Do we have to become racists in order to end racist offence? It seems self-defeating to me.

It's the 21st century: if by this late of a date you still don't realize that connecting blackness with monkeys is a component of anti-black racism, you don't deserve to be in business.

OK, but don't you think that indulging these sensitivities around this slur just empowers it? How are you ever going to disarm the slur by being hypersensitive about it?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

H&M should have taken more caution.

Exactly what sort of caution should they have taken? Should they have said to the model: "Sorry black child, you cannot model this particular monkey shirt due to the colour of your skin. A small group of white supremacists claims that people of your race are monkeys so we must deny you this opportunity so we don't offend another small group of people who can't control themselves".

Sorry if I seem really worked up about this but I am! It's so so wrong to give even an inch on this. I can't believe people don't see that.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Do people believe that management at H&M intentionally set out to create a racist image? If they did, those people should be universally condemned as moronic racists and fired. But isn't it possible that they never thought of any kind of connection between the black child and a monkey? If so, isn't that good thing?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@M3, I think most of us 'see that' too. Thing is racism is still very much with us and as much as I would love to believe that your ingenuous, almost childlike (as in pure/innocent) posts are the answer to racism/racists I still think society as a whole isn't ready for it. (some communities/families may be but this was aimed at the mass market).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@goldorak

Fair enough, I totally get that. We probably won't stop everyone from becoming offended by racist slurs but I hope more people will realise that taking offence is really the only thing that gives these slurs any power. I certainly don't want to be controlled by them or deny people opportunities because of them.

@CrazyJoe

But isn't it possible that they never thought of any kind of connection between the black child and a monkey? If so, isn't that good thing?

Yup. Exactly. Or even if they did notice the connection, wouldn't it be a good thing if they refused to be bound by the frame constructed by racists?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

M3M3M3Today 11:57 am JST

H&M should have taken more caution.

Sorry if I seem really worked up about this but I am! It's so so wrong to give even an inch on this. I can't believe people don't see that.

I suggest that you study up on the Africa-American experience in the United States before reaching such a conclusion. Most of us who feel that H&M shouldn't have used this model/shirt aren't racists. We're just educated enough to know that it was open to such interpretation and therefore should have been avoided.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Letting someone else's words have so much power over you to cause violence is foolish.

Everyone has been called something less-than-nice in their lives. Would you organize violence over these things?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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