Everyone Has A Problem With The H&M Ad…Except The Boy’s Mother

January 10, 2018  |  
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It would have been hard to avoid the H&M ad featuring the little Black boy wearing a hoodie that says “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.” It’s all on Twitter, on every celebrity’s social media page and all up and down your Facebook newsfeed. Black folks (and a couple of White folks, even) are not happy.

I don’t think I have to tell you why. There is a long history of White folks, in their efforts to further dehumanize us, likening Black people to monkeys. So the image of a young, Black boy in a hoodie with the moniker across it, didn’t sit well with more than a few people. We’ll get to them and some of their poignant—and in some cases hilarious— thoughts later.

In all the discussion about the ad, I kept hearing people ask about the child’s parents. Who allowed this to go down? I wasn’t on that wave. I thought it would have been easy for the company to take a picture of the boy in one outfit and then photoshop him into something entirely different. Perhaps his parents weren’t aware of what the actual hoodie said.

But I was wrong.

The mother of the boy featured in the ad, Terry Mango, emerged on social media to share her feelings on the matter. And her thoughts are not like ours.

Mango, who is of Kenyan descent but lives in Sweden, said this.

“Am the mum and this is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modeled…..stop crying Wolf all the time, unnecessary issue here….get over it. If I bought that jumper and put it on him and posted it on my pages, would that make me racist?? I get plus opinion but they are not mine.”

Later, in response to a commenter, she said, “That’s my son…av (sic) been to all photoshoots and this was not an exception, everyone is entitled to their opinion about this.”

When someone asked her if she understood why people were outraged, Mango said, “I really don’t understand but not coz (sic) am choosing not to but because it’s not my way of thinking, sorry.”

If she’s grown up in Sweden or Kenya and that’s not her way of thinking that’s fine. Still, the thought that Black folk across the world should “get over it” is not the move. I can understand she might be feeling like she’s being attacked right now. Still, ignoring the very real pain of your Black brothers and sisters across the world, is shortsighted and a bit selfish really. The fact that she and her child benefitted personally from his participation in the ad, doesn’t excuse the fact that hundred of thousands of other Black folk were hurt by it.

But aside from Mango’s thoughts, here are some of the responses from celebrities who took issue with the image.

The Weeknd




The King Center


G Eazy

Sheryl Underwood and Eve

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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 recurs several times a year; it’s predictable the world over, like seasons. So when i first laid eyes on it, my 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

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Jesse Williams

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