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The Degradation of Black People in Major Brand Companies

In early January, the major brand company H&M released a clothing ad which featured a black child that wore a very controversial sweatshirt, with a tag that said, ‘’Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.’’  The advertisement sparked backlash and received intense criticism, as the company was accused of racism, specifically by people of color.

Some people believed that the ad didn’t mean to spark controversy; that ‘’Coolest Monkey in the jungle’’ was used because he is a kid, and kids are referred to as monkeys since they jump and play, act wild and mischievous. Comparing black people to apes or monkeys has been a long-term rumor turned belief, since it differentiates white skin which has been deemed ‘fair’ or ‘beautiful’, while colored or dark skin has been seen as ‘other’ and was, and still is, repeatedly dehumanized and disrespected.

“The extent of the aesthetic ‘distance’ between whites and blacks, their greater degree from a white perspective of physical ‘otherness’ (deviant not merely in skin colour and hair texture but facial features) as compared to other ‘non-whites’ races.’’ (Hund and Mills: Huff Post)

Shea Moisture was also caught under fire for their controversial commercial in April 2017, the company made a commercial that featured one mixed black girl, and three white women, one with blonde and another with red straight hair. The reason that the brand was called under fire and criticism is because there was no representation of actual curls, specifically kinky texturized curls. Shea Moisture, at the time, was one of the first brands that catered to black or Latina girls with curly or kinky hair types, and that core demographic has loyally and faithfully commended the brand for a long time. The anger that was received could not have been more appropriate.

“I understand that Shea Moisture wants to expand their brand, but I feel like at all times you need to remain loyal to your core customers’’–(Cool Calm Curly, via Youtube)

“Why is one of the first ads that black women have been patronizing for all these years, or for a long time, featuring white women? We are your consuming base, which you never lose sight of, so the marketing team should be gone!”–(Stephanie Andrea, via Youtube)

It is ridiculous that in this time frame that any brand, whether it is big or small, uses this poor marketing ploy or racial strategy in order to gain attention, when at the end of the day; it doesn’t matter which country your in, or where you’re from. Racism is universal, and we obviously need to have a global conversation, instead of talking about it a little while and then forget about it, until the next news story.



Arielle Canate is a junior at Wells College. She loves anthropology, American Horror Story, films and books. Hobbies include: Mythology (any one), Marvel comics, music, and makeup
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