Recently, an advert broke the internet. It shows a H&M hoodie on a black child model. The hoodie inscription reads “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle”.
As much as a lot of black people are hurt, disappointed and disgusted by the advert, the fashion line may not feel a loss from these angry demonstrations. Even sef, they may get more profit from all the free advertising black communities are doing for them.
There is so much more that needs to be done than a hashtag. So much more than #boycottH&M. The boycott nor fit epp anybody.
This is not the first time negative press has been used as a tool to promote brands especially using racist promotion ideas.
We all remember Dove and their “White skin clean; Black skin dirty” advert. The social space was filled with anger and venom but this has not killed the Dove brand, neither will it solve the problems black businesses experience in scaling up.
Black businesses need to compete with scale and price differentials.
Three reasons black owned businesses cannot scale up and price down:
1. Investors: other than boycotting H&M, Dove or other racially controversial brands, black investors need to focus on providing capital for small scale black startups. With more capital comes scale!
2. Pricing: If Black brands cannot scale up then they have to sell their products at unbearably high prices which would make any boycott impossible. Consumers will vent all day about the racist advert but end up buying the cheaper H&M products. If I need a t-shirt, I would still rather buy a H&M t-shirt at £9.99 than a £35 t-shirt from Mr. Blackson & Sons Clothing Store. Because a tenner is a tenner at the end of the day.
3. Ease of Business: The bottlenecks for indigenous black African businesses to operate within their own economies are way too much. Many businesses struggle to be registered or run business accounts; not because they do not want to, but because they lack the wherewithal. Sometimes, heavy tax burdens kill black businesses before they even get off the ground, and governments in these black communities do not care.
The problem is coming from us, blacks to blacks. Enough of the docile response to racist promotions. A new hashtag or photoshopping a racist hoodie will not make the blindest bit of difference. WE HAVE TO DIG DEEPER.
If you are a consumer buying non-Black instead of Black, then you are a part of the problem.
We need people who put their money where their mouths are. If you can patronise one Black business this year, it would do a lot more good than fighting H&M on social media.
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