Clothing store H&M has continued to experience massive fallout over a hoodie that was deemed racist due to the fact that the child modeling it was black.
The retailer attempted to rectify the situation after they garnered backlash for an ad showing a young black boy wearing a hoodie that read, "Coolest Monkey In the Jungle." The company issued an apology for the incident after it was almost universally deemed racist, and then reportedly hired a diversity leader to further correct course.
The company stated in a Facebook post that its "commitment to addressing diversity and inclusiveness is genuine," the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"We have appointed a global leader, in this area, to drive our work forward," the post read.
The Stockholm, Sweden, based company called the incident "unintentional" but acknowledged that it "demonstrates so clearly how big our responsibility is as a global brand."
"We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable," the store's original apology read.
"We have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry."
The family of Liam Mango, the boy in the ad, was reportedly forced to move following the backlash for "security reasons." The boy's mother, Terry Mango, was criticized for downplaying the ad after the controversy began -- calling on people to stop "crying wolf" -- and continued to defend the store in subsequent interviews.
"I respect other people's opinion on the issue. I know racism exists, but does the shirt to me speak racism? No it doesn't," she told BBC News.
Terry also told BBC News that she was attacked online by other black people for her response to the ad.
"I [am] a sell out to them, I [am] an embarrassment to the black and African-American people. I sold my son for money," she said.
One of the biggest consequences of the scandal was the forced closure of stores in Pretoria, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, after protesters stormed the establishments, pushed over mannequins and tore apart clothing displays. The company told IOL Business Report that it would "continue to monitor the situation closely" and "open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again."
The protests in South Africa were organized by supporters of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF). The group's spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu, praised the protest and claimed on Twitter that the store was "facing consequences for its racism."
"What is left out in the entire public narrative on #EFFprotest against H&M anti-black racism is that Not Even A Single Item was Stolen or Looted by EFF Ground Forces. How much more peaceful and orderly can a protest be?" the group tweeted.
EEF's commander-in-chief, Julius Malema, also acknowledged the protests in a tweet.
"We will never be told by any fool on how to fight against our oppression particularly those who have never been at the picket lines. There’s no formula on how you should fight the oppressor, expect more action against all racists, individually and collectively this year," Malema tweeted.