A children’s clothing company had a lot of explaining to do after someone posted a photo on Twitter of a display seen in one of its stores. A T-shirt showing a monkey’s body on a hanger featuring a cardboard cutout of an African-American boy’s face offended many who thought the display was racist.
Just Add a Kid, the creator of a line of kiddie T-shirts, responded to the racism accusations, and in an interview with the New York Daily News, said it was a “a total misunderstanding.”
“We are looking into all the situations that occurred around this little incident,” company co-creator Lowell Cohen told the Daily News by phone. “We’re looking at the vendor, we’re speaking to our employees.”
All of the company’ T-shirts feature whimsical cartoon characters. From surfers to cowboys, princesses and various animals, as well as occupations, each character is then paired with a hanger featuring a cardboard human head. In regards to the pairing of a black child with a T-shirt featuring a monkey, Just Add a Kid stated it was “not authorized, condoned or tolerated” by the company.
Apparently, it is up to each vendor as to how the pairings of cartoons and T-shirts should take place. On the company’s website, children of various ethnicities are paired with various cartoon characters, including a little black boy who is not paired with a monkey.
After the picture was initially posted to Twitter, the company chalked up the incident as a “mix-up”:
The company also posted a lengthy apology on its site:
If you look closely at the photo, it looks as though the other cardboard cutouts behind the black kid aren’t the same. Who knows, maybe a customer decided to be funny and racist, and changed the hangers around?
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.