Yesterday, H&M apologized and removed an online catalog image that appeared in the U.K. of a black child wearing a sweatshirt reading “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle.” But that didn’t spare the retailer criticism from past collaborators like The Weeknd, who said he’d no longer be working for the brand.
Now Jesse Williams, who starred in H&M’s recent big budget holiday campaign alongside Nicki Minaj, is speaking out against the brand. In an appropriately scathing statement on Instagram, the actor and activist called the incident a “pathetic excuse for corporate behavior and [ir]responsibility.” He also said this was merely a symptom of a bigger problem, rightly evident in the image of H&M’s all-white board of directors. “These offenses are about the room where it happens, more than the item that happened to be spilled all over us, this time.”
Williams characterized his reaction as not “shock,” but rather “boredom,” and ended with a call for consumers to exercise their power of choice and vote with their dollars.
Just getting back from vacation to see this pathetic excuse for corporate behavior and [ir]responsibility. Last year I chose to do a holiday campaign w/ @HM specifically because it centered women and girls as imaginative doers; because it centered an intelligent dark skinned girl w/ natural hair as protagonist; because it featured a loving, creative, working class black family. And then, hear they come with this bullshit… These offenses are about the room where it happens, more than the item that happened to be spilled all over us, this time. This corporate colonial collateral damage occurs several times a year, it’s predictable, like the seasons. And it happens the world over, so “shocked” wasn’t what i felt, nor was anger honestly. It was, boredom. This old world, white power, failing-upward culture of reckless trampling that repeatedly exposes itself, is boring already. Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you bored watching mediocre, incurious & consequently destructive people, shepherded into positions of power, further choking off opportunity for the actually talented & decent among us? It is truly a desperate and bizarre ritual that WILL go the way of the confederate flag: A relic of a juvenile “civilization.” End relationships with your abusers, and make room for yourselves. #BuyBlack