The mother of the H&M child model embroiled in a race row has now received racist abuse online from those who defended her son.
In a ridiculous display of irony – and shocking double standards – Terry Mango, of Stockholm, Sweden, has been targeted by racist trolls online, after she spoke out about her son’s participation in a misguided fashion shoot for H&M.
H&M were branded racially insensitive, ‘disgusting’ and negligent after selecting Mango’s child to model a jumper emblazoned with the slogan: ‘Coolest Monkey in the Jungle’, with many pointing out ‘monkey’ has long been used as a racist slur.
Two white children were also styled wearing similar jumpers, with the slogans ‘Mangrove jungle’ and ‘Official survival expert’, and the oversight was glaringly painful to many commentators.
However, Mango did not agree and took to Facebook to defend the ad, saying the backlash to the image was ‘unnecessary’ and urging critics, including global superstars, to ‘stop crying wolf’ and ‘get over it’.
That’s my son…av [sic] been to all photo shoots and this was not an exception, everyone is entitled to their opinion about this.
This is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modelled… stop crying Wolf all the time, unnecessary issue.
Well people the mother ( #TerryMango ) of the black child in the #H&M ad basically say 'she nah cough suh why unno a vomit' @Regranned from @thegreentealivecastdotcom ______________________________________#greentea #thegreentealivecastdotcom #hennessandmauritz #fashion #racism #blackboyjoy #melanin #trending #childmodel
Ms Mango, who is of Kenyan descent, claims she has been called a ‘monkey’ for her response to the backlash by the very people who were defending her son against the racist slur.
Speaking in an interview with Gulf News, she asked:
How can you fight racism if you make racist remarks?
You cannot try to defend my son and use the same words to describe me.
Meanwhile, Mango’s uncle, Kenyan-born music promoter Clay Onyango, said the family had spoken to H&M and believe the brand had not intended to be racist, but added there are still questions in need of answers.
Onyango told Gulf News:
I think they overlooked it. Maybe it’s just one of those mistakes that one makes. But there are many questions you can ask – how did they miss that?
It’s a sentiment echoed by many on Twitter:
In the year 2018 there’s no way brands/art directors can be this negligent and lack awareness. If look at other sweaters in same category they have white kids. We have to do better. pic.twitter.com/Av4bS4t6yn
— alex medina (@mrmedina) January 8, 2018
The insensitive styling choices have caused such global backlash online, P Diddy, who owns the fashion line Sean John, passed judgement. He posted a painting of the young boy, modelling a jumper more befitting.
In the caption Diddy demanded H&M ‘put some respect on it’, adding:
When you look at us make sure you see royalty and super natural God sent glory!! Anything else is disrespectful.
To add further insult to H&M’s self-inflicted injury, the rapper and business mogul is said to be offering the young model a contract with his own clothing brand.
This is yet to be confirmed formally by Diddy or any of his spokespeople, but would go a long way to make things right for the youngster, after the Swedish brand’s oversight.
H&M responded to the backlash on Twitter, writing:
We understand that many people are upset about the image of the children’s hoodie. We, who work at H&M, can only agree.
We’re deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print. Therefore, we’ve not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering.
It’s obvious that our routines haven’t been followed properly. This is without any doubt. We’ll thoroughly investigate why this happened to prevent this type of mistake from happening again.
Still, the apology has been met with much online controversy and many, including Romelu Lukaku, have set about correcting their mistake, just like Diddy.
The Manchester United striker took matters into his own hands and doctored the image in the best way, changing the slogan to ‘Black is Beautiful’.
Meanwhile, The Weeknd, real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, who launched his debut line with the Swedish brand in 2017, has repealed his collaborative efforts with H&M since the backlash.
The Weeknd had been working as a collaborator with H&M on the XO clothing line, but told his eight million Twitter followers he was ‘deeply offended’ by the photo in the online shopping section of the website and was cutting ties.
He took to Twitter to say:
Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore.
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 8, 2018
H&M have since apologised and removed the item from their online platforms and said the £7.99 product had been pulled from sale in the US.
Let’s just hope H&M have learned their lesson.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.