The Weeknd & Jesse Williams Cut Ties with H&M Over Racially Insensitive Ad
The Weeknd revealed that he has parted ways with H&M after a photo of a young black boy wearing a hoodie that read, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” surfaced on the retailer's website. The photo, which is part of the brand's newest line of kids' clothing, was immediately met with backlash by people slamming the company for being racist. In fact, after seeing the image, The Weeknd voiced his disgust on social media, revealing he felt “shocked and embarrassed” by the ad.
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 8, 2018
The Weeknd began his collaboration with H&M in 2017. He modeled in their campaigns and created t-shirts, jackets and sweatshirts under his XO brand.
Grey's Anatomy star, Jesse Williams, who did a holiday campaign with the brand, has also voiced his outrage in an Instagram post, sharing a photo of the all-white board of directors. “There is a concentration of power, committed to exclusion, whether casual, accidental or conscious. The collateral damage of this corporate, colonial mind-state occurs several times a year,” he wrote. “This old world, white power, failing-upward culture of reckless trampling that repeatedly exposes itself, is boring already.” He finished his post saying, “End relationships with your abusers. Make room for yourselves. #BuyBlack #BuyResponsibly.”
The photo has since been deleted from the website, however, that hasn't halted the backlash. Everyone from Diddy and YG to basketball star LeBron James have shared their opinions on the matter.
Put some respect on it!! When you look at us make sure you see royalty and super natural God sent glory!! Anything else is disrespectful. pic.twitter.com/QVaxgngwh1
— Diddy (@Diddy) January 8, 2018
“@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!!” Lebron shared.
A rep for H&M responded to the backlash in a statement to Pitchfork.com: “We understand that many people are upset about the image. We, who work at H&M, can only agree. We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print. Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally. It is obvious that our routines have not been followed properly. This is without any doubt. We will thoroughly investigate why this happened to prevent this type of mistake from happening again.”
Now that The Weeknd and Jesse Williams have voiced their opinions on the racist ad, the pressure is on for Nicki Minaj to follow suit. The rapper, who appeared in a recent commercial for H&M (with Jesse Williams), has yet to make a public statement about the sweatshirt.
This isn't the first time H&M has come under fire. Back in 2016, there were also allegations regarding mistreatment of workers made against the company. Apparently, the people making the clothes received poverty wages, were denied breaks and basically endured sweatshop conditions.
While the intention of H&M might not have been malicious, the ad was a highly insensitive oversight. Companies should definitely know better and do better.