Tyra Banks on 'racist' H&M ad: Who the hell put that sweatshirt on that beautiful black baby?

Elise Solé
Yahoo Lifestyle

Tyra Banks is responding to H&M’s controversial ad with an opinion she fears she’ll get “skewered for.”

On Monday, the retail company apologized for a “racist” ad featuring a young, black boy wearing a sweatshirt that read, “Coolest monkey in the jungle” and pulled the item from stores, after major social media backlash.

“We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken and we also regret the actual print,” H&M said in a statement. “Therefore, we have not only removed the image from our channels, but also the garment from our product offering globally.”

But the public was outraged, demanding a store boycott on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Banks weighed in on the ad during the panel discussion series Build Series, alongside model Ashley Graham and Drew Elliot, the creative director of Paper magazine.

When asked by an audience member for her take on the controversial ad campaign, Banks said, “One thing we have to remember — and I might get skewered for this — those choices are not necessarily those of the CEO of H&M. It can be eight people on a set or one buyer buying something and giving it to a person on set and people ruin a company’s reputation.”

Banks added, “So we have to remember that and try to get to the root of, ‘Who the hell put that sweatshirt on that beautiful black baby? Who put it on him?’ Not who made it — but who put it on him. That’s the person to really focus on. And then who printed that shit? Not necessarily the CEO, but who are these people who did that? And I would love for us to try to get deeper into the ‘who,’ not the ‘what.’”

Other celebrities, such as Jessie Williams, The Weeknd, Diddy, and LeBron James took to social media to publicly condemned H&M.

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, here they come with this bullshit… These offenses are more about the makeup of the rooms where they happen, than the items they produce. There is a concentration of power, committed to exclusion, whether casual, accidental or conscious. The collateral damage of this corporate, colonial mind-state occurs several times a year, and it’s predictable the world over, like the seasons, so when i laid eyes on it, my initial reaction was neither shock nor anger. 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 waltz through your life, shepherded into positions of power, further choking off opportunity for the actually talented, curious & decent among us? It’s a truly desperate and bizarre ritual we’ve become conditioned to. A ritual that WILL go the way of the confederate flag: A relic of a destructive juvenile “civilization,” disguised as harmless tradition. End relationships with your abusers. Make room for yourselves. #BuyBlack‬ #BuyResponsibly #Make

A post shared by jesse Williams (@ijessewilliams) on Jan 9, 2018 at 8:44am PST

“There’s nothing fundamentally offensive about the term ‘Monkey’ but context should be considered. If a group of diverse children wore the sweatshirt, this wouldn’t be an issue,” Anita Jones Thomas, dean of the College of Applied Behavior Sciences at the University of Indianapolis and a specialist in multicultural psychology, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“Condemning the CEO for the ad is counterproductive because that person isn’t making on-the-ground decisions like photo approval,” she says. “However, if there’s a company culture without diversity, equality, and inclusion, that’s a problem. It’s 2018 — we don’t have time to wait for people to catch up.”

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