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Let’s Talk About H&M and their Racist Advert

It has become a habit for big brands to promote their products by taking a jab at black people. Placing them in a box of silly expectations and, by extension, portray them in dehumanizing stereotypes, watch the internet go on fire over the advert and release some apology statement later after withdrawing the advert.

If you say it’s not a habit, what else can explain the continuous repetition of silly blunders that these big brands are becoming known for, given how unapologetically woke the world has become? An advert campaign is not a one-man thing. Certainly not when it involves a big brand like H&M and whoever the advert experts are that sat down, discussed and approved that a handsome promising black boy would wear a hoodie with “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” written on it. Promotional strategy or not, some people deserve a thorough ass-whooping in the form of a sack email.

The monkey jumper advert might be a pointer to the deficiency in H&M’s HR structure. Probably, the company isn’t made up of workers of diverse racial backgrounds, which led to this disaster that threatens to take us back to the era of Jim Crow. This makes it entirely difficult for them – and the people who work under them – to see and understand the hurt and distress caused by words like “monkey” in the black community. Nobody, no matter their race or heritage, deserves to be called or even treated like that.

This under-representation and stereotyped portrayal of black people in commercials didn’t start today. First, it was some mad Twitter people photoshopping Rihanna’s skin complexion to look white, claiming she looks better as a white woman, then the Pepsi advert that tried making a joke of black and other minority community’s struggle, Dove’s 2-time messed-up black community representation advert campaign, Nivea’s billboard adverts in Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria, showing beauty queens with the words “for visibly fairer skin” written across their bodies and the TV commercials that had the model’s skin become light as she happily applied the cream, and a lot more. We can’t even mention all that nonsense.

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Hey Advertisers! it is important to include people who can connect directly with all audience or customer base in your team, and every race should be part of that team. The internet never forgets. It saves the receipt and we are still at high alerts to snatch wigs from brands, big or small, that make a mess of the struggle for inclusivity in the world.

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Henry I. Ugwu

Written by Henry I. Ugwu

Henry I. Ugwu is a writer, opinion journalist, media scholar, social media strategist and crisis management expert.

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