JOHANNESBURG — Jan 13, 2018, 10:38 AM ET

South Africa party storms H&M stores over monkey shirt ad

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Members of a South African opposition party stormed into some H&M stores across the country on Saturday to protest a promotional image of a black child wearing a sweatshirt with the words "Coolest monkey in the jungle."

Local media reports said the Economic Freedom Fighters urged shopping malls to evict the Swedish clothing retailer, which has apologized after an outcry in other countries. People have called the image racist and inappropriate.

Television footage showed clothing in one of the South African stores scattered everywhere.

H&M in South Africa says it had removed the sweatshirt from sale. "We have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry," a message on its South African website says.

EFF leader Julius Malema said he doesn't regret taking the action Saturday, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.

NBA star LeBron James, rapper Diddy and singer The Weeknd are among the celebrities who expressed shock in recent days over the H&M image, which has been removed from online promotions but continues to be circulated on social media.

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  • kissatek

    Seriously? Look, in this current age where every little word can be deemed offensive I cannot find one piece of information about the origins of this phrase. I don't agree with rioting, there are far more civil ways to protest and quite frankly I imagine even a white model would have provoked backlash. From concept, who on earth thought this to be an appropriate product?

  • Gmh Gmh

    Anyone else see incredible irony that they are protesting a shirt that compares them to animals by acting like animals? H&M had already pulled the ad and apologized, all this group did is make themselves look bad and make people sympathetic for H&M.

  • Steve

    Rioting and looting has the opposite effect of squashing racism. On the contrary, for those who share racist attitudes it reinforces perceived stereotypes and promotes racism. You cannot attribute the actions of small groups of individuals to an entire race however these reactions seem more common to one race than any other. And claiming that may be due to a higher occurrence of racial offense does not remove responsibility for the response to it. There's no question that the liberal media has fueled that "entitlement" to outrage as an appropriate reaction and should be held equally accountable as those who participate in these actions.

  • SarcasTex

    Honestly, I don't think there was any intent on making a racist statement, but it was definitely a foolish move and insensitive move on the part of H & M. Had they just used a white kid, they probably wouldn't have seen this much of a backlash. Then again, there's no telling what the reaction would have been once the shirt hit the shelves.

  • helicohunter

    This is what happens when a Swedish company comes up with a slogan and doesn't do any research before releasing it into other countries. Plenty of parents call their children "little monkeys", so they could have thought it was innocuous. They should have done their homework.

  • Willie E. Drayton

    I'm sure many here don't get it and never will. Just because the mother was ok with the blatant racism is irrelevant. The normalization of racism made this ad campaign and the vulgar statements of this country's current "president" fine in their eyes. It is not like South Africa is not recognized for it's history of racism just like America. And in response to the comment that if you look for racism, you'll find it. That is a very true statement but not for the reason the poster thinks. You'll find it because it is there.

  • YellowParrott

    I don't know what H & M was thinking?! Different sort of culture beliefs I guess??

  • travis Dejesus

    Much ado about nothing. If you constantly look for incidents of racism, anything and everything can be construed as racist.

  • Chronic

    This article doesn't tell or show the half of it. The stores were destroyed by the protestors. No excuse for that kind of vandalism, especially for a political party.

  • JDCreborn

    Equality and human rights are a must and everyone’s voice should be heard. However, this one falls off the mark. If a white kid had been in that shirt would people have made such a huge deal about it? I think that people need to audit their outrage. The reason words that were used to offend years ago still have the same effect is because society, and especially parents teach kids to recoil in horror when those words are used. If we stop teaching these kids to act in rage when these words are spoken, then they stop having that effect. I call my kids monkeys all the time, and would have gladly bought this sweatshirt for them. It just doesn’t seem that the intent to offend was there, and intent and context needs to be taken into account when you set out to destroy a person or corporation for being racist, sexist, or whatever.

  • Bradley Mcclain

    The Mom approved it and had no problem with it. How come these people are offended when the people doing aren’t and there black. Lol

  • 3 Wise Men

    The company apologized and removed the ad before this "protest". So why were they protesting? Wanted some free shirts maybe.