Clothing Store Pairs Monkey T-shirt With African American Boy’s Face

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 12.49.29 PM

Recently, children’s clothing company Just Add A Kid has come under fire after a T-shirt with a monkey’s body was paired with a cardboard cutout featuring an African-American boy’s face.

This controversial combination, which was brought to everyone’s attention with a photo uploaded to Twitter on Wednesday, has now created a stir as the clothing company tries to defend itself against what it calls “a total misunderstanding.”

article-0-1F8AD2B600000578-538_634x601

The company explained that the T-shirts and cardboard hooks are separate, and it is up to each vendor carrying the Just Add A Kid brand to match the two. Company co-creator Lowell Cohen said in a statement to the Daily News:

“We are looking into all the situations that occurred around this little incident. We’re looking at the vendor, we’re speaking to our employees.” [source]

In a statement release on Twitter, Just Add A Kid spokesperson David Oates wrote:

“The widely distributed and inappropriate picture of a mismatched “Just Add A Kid” hanger with one of our t-shirt products was not authorized, condoned or tolerated by our company. We sincerely regretted this occurrence and immediately directed our retail partner to change the product placement.” [source]

Oates’ statement continued, saying that the company will offer training to all employees in their distribution channels to ensure that this never happens again.

The T-shirts are part of a series that feature a variety of cartoon character bodies such as surfers, cowboys, princesses and different animals and occupations.

article-2687553-1F8AC25A00000578-160_634x534

In a statement, Just Add A Kid explained:

“The head shots on our hangers are intended (to) reflect the different cultures of our happy customers, and are distributed separately to our shirts. In this particular case, one of our retailers paired a particular hanger with a shirt without consideration for how it may appear to many consumers.We are taking steps to prevent this from happening again.” [source]

Many people couldn’t believe such an oversight had been made. Mark Shrayber of Jezebel.com decided to call Just Add A Kid to get to the bottom of what happened. Nancy, the Just Add A Kid representative that Shrayber spoke to, confirmed that the hangers and t-shirts came separately and that retailers are responsible for the pairings. She also illustrated that the company just might not be as conscious about racially offensive content as they should be. Shrayber recalled their uncomfortable conversation:

“In an effort to make sure that I understood that Add A Kid Clothing didn’t have any racist intentions, Nancy told me that the hangers came in several different colors including Oriental, Africa-American [Sic], and Latin. This is where our conversation took a fun turn.

Me: Wait, did you say Oriental?

Nancy: Yes, sir.

Me: Nancy, does your website say Oriental?

Nancy: No.

Me: Why? (This is me hoping Nancy just fucked up and was going to correct herself because people aren’t oriental)

Nancy: It is still very new. We didn’t have them yet.

Me: Do you know that’s an offensive term?

Nancy: What is?

Me: Oriental.

Nancy: No, what am I supposed to say?

Me: Asian. Oriental is for thing. People are Asian.” [source]

Shrayber observes that Just Add A Kid could stand to be more aware of how their product could be manipulated for use other than intended.

“Here’s the thing: If you’re opening a business, you have to consider the context and content of your product and considering the fact that black people have, in fact, been compared unfavorably to monkeys should be something to think about when your company sends out shirts and hangers that could produce such a combination.

Even if the goal is not the pairing of black child and banana, you must know that there are some people that will put these two together because they’re just-for-laughs racists or because they’re racist racist, or because they’re ignorant and still calling people orientals like Nancy (who seemed like a very nice person and was really amenable to changing her wording even though talking to me seemed to leave her exhausted).” [source]

Fortunately, it seems that Just Add A Kid is open to learning from this experience. Here is an updated statement from the company:

BsJ1e_tIMAAVcfo