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Internet Overreacts Toward H&M Controversy

Daja Dansby, Staff Writer

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With the racial tension surrounding both the most recent election and continued police brutality, people are becoming less tolerant when it comes to ignorant advertisements. Consumers are no strangers to brands unintentionally degrading black people as a part of their marketing strategy. H&M’s recent marketing mishap needed to be addressed. I understand where people are coming from, though as an African-American myself, I can’t help but wonder if the all the anger and violence stemming from the incident is really necessary.

As a rather subpar start to the new year, social media erupted over H&M’s latest campaign for children which featured a young black male model in a “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” sweatshirt. I responded initially with a laugh. Though distasteful, I didn’t view it as much, just a poor judgement call on the company’s part. It could be forgiven.

After The Weeknd commented on the situation, things were taken to a whole new level. With the young boy’s picture being plastered all over the internet, Terry Mango, the model’s mother, spoke out on Facebook telling people to “get over it” and that it was an unnecessary issue. She said that the hoodie in question was only one of many things that he wore that day and she saw no problem with it. The statement she released resulted in people all across the internet attacking her. She even said that she was called a “monkey,” the same slur that surrounds the controversy.

Mango is entitled to her opinion but given the harsh way she went about expressing it, it’s no wonder she was met with criticism. Telling the people who advocated for her son to “stop crying wolf” in the heat of their anger was no way to address the issue. Though she shouldn’t have addressed it the way she did, it is still her opinion and she should be able to speak out without being called the same racist term. Her being attacked was inevitable though. People are far too into their heads doing what they believe is right, to take into consideration the other side of things. Mango is not deserving of all the hate that she’s receiving, nor is H&M.

Twitter, however, did not believe so. As always, the people of the internet came together for a brief span of time to bash the global company before disbanding. Though they believed they were doing something good, all these outraged media users ended up doing was causing destruction. The family of the young model was forced to move from their home, and H&M’s in South Africa are now being trashed by vandals and forced to close. Acts like these are not for the greater good They hurt those they are supposedly for.

If the black population is who you’re fighting for, why destroy the place where many of them work? Why tarnish the jobs that they rely on? If you’re wanting to speak out and aid a cause, attacking one store in a chain is not doing anything productive. The workers in the store that was trashed had nothing to do with the release of the images and yet they are the ones who were targeted and they are the ones who have ended up hurt.

Though most mean well and the cause is a righteous one, the measures people go to don’t always translate well. If not careful, you can find yourself causing more harm than good, which is exactly what happened here. Instead of getting caught up in the frenzy of wanting to be involved and fight for something, take a step back and think about what you’re getting involved with and why. From there think about an appropriate plan of action and who it’s at the expense of.

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