High street giant H&M has apologised after an image of a black child modelling a hoodie with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle” appeared on its website.
Outraged social media users described the advert as “offensive”, “irresponsible” and “racist” after it appeared on the Swedish retail company’s UK website.
It is not clear how long it was on the website for but an H&M spokeswoman confirmed it has now been removed.
Blogger Stephanie Yeboah wrote: “Whose idea was it at @hm to have this little sweet black boy wear a jumper that says ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’? I mean. What.”
New York Times columnist Charles M Blow asked: “Have you lost your damned minds?!?!?!”
.@hm this is inappropriate, offensive, and racist. Why is the white kid “a jungle survivor” and the black kid the “coolest monkey in the jungle”? How do you think this is okay? REMOVE this and the clothing piece. This is completely distasteful! #racist #hm https://t.co/uati7eI0Io pic.twitter.com/WSF9Wiksio
— Selene Arianela (@ArianelaSelene) January 8, 2018
Christina Watkins asked: “Uh oh, @hm. Can y’all explain why a black boy was selected to model a hoodie that says, “coolest monkey in the jungle”? Someone didn’t think this through.”
Karamo Brown described the image as “disgusting & irresponsible”.
He said: “You know the history of racist using the term “monkey” to demean people of African descent… and you put this on your website!”
Others blamed lack of cultural awareness while other defended H&M, calling the advert “an innocent mistake”.
Another Twitter user said: “Every company should invest in training that encompasses cultural competency and sensitivity. It is absolutely necessary.”
@hm 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. I see a Young King!! The ruler of the world, an untouchable Force that can never be denied! We as African Americans will always have to break barriers, prove people wrong and work even harder to prove we belong but guess what, that’s what we love because the benefits at the end of the road are so beautiful!! #LiveLaughLove❤️ #LoveMyPeople🤴🏾👸🏾👨🏾⚖️👩🏾⚖️
An H&M spokeswoman said: “This image has now been removed from all H&M channels and we apologise to anyone this may have offended.”
The Weeknd has severed ties with H&M, with the singer saying he was “deeply offended” by an advert for a children’s hoodie.
The Canadian singer, who has a clothing line with the retailer, said he was “shocked and embarrassed” after the company posted an ad of a black child in a sweatshirt with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” on the front.