Are Black People Allowed To Wear What They Want?


Imagine this: BMW releases an ad for their new car, and the car used in the ad has a spoiler, a particularly strong engine, and a cup-holder for the driver. In the wake (“historical context”) of many accidents and deaths on the roads due to speed freaks and drunk drivers, there is public outrage over the ad. Detractors condemn BMW for its insensitivity. Spoilers on cars serve the dual purposes of reducing drag (ergo, increasing speed) and making the car look windgat, the engine in the car is inappropriate and certainly dangerous for ordinary road use, and the cup-holder implies that a driver may drink while driving. A BMW dealership is consequently attacked by terrorists and several cars are damaged.

What is the consequential message we can take home from these events?

It is one of two things: Either people should not be allowed to drive cars with spoilers, strong engines, and cup-holders for the drivers, or they should be discouraged from doing so.

On 8 January 2018, H&M ran an ad showing off two of their products for children. One of these products was a green hoodie with the words “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” inscribed on the front. The model for the hoodie happened to be a presumably well-paid black boy.

Chaos ensued.

After global condemnations of racism because of the “historical context” surrounding the word “monkey” and black people, H&M relented and apologized, castrating themselves in the public eye for absolutely no reason. The Economic Freedom Fighters in South Africa, refusing to be outdone by their peaceful counterparts in the West, decided to attack an H&M store in Sandton, further contributing to their portfolio of using violence to further their political aims (by definition, terrorism).

What is the consequential message we can take home from these events?

It is one of two things: Either black people should not be allowed to wear clothing with the words “monkey” inscribed on it, or they should be discouraged from doing so. Both of these conclusions are equally atrocious. Prescribing what people may and may not wear based on the color of their skin is exactly the kind of mentality society should be trying to escape, not reinvigorate.

Especially in South Africa.

If you ask me, it’s probably time for society to stop telling black people what they are and are not allowed to do and wear. Was Apartheid’s host of prescriptions for black people not offensive enough? Maybe, just maybe, they should be allowed to decide for themselves whether the words on a particular piece of cloth are appropriate for them to wear, and, if not, to simply not buy the cloth. Anything other than this is condescending, racist, and arrogant in the extreme.

Of course, detractors will retort by saying the acts of terrorism were not directed at black people, but at the white multinational company. This would be false. H&M made no prescriptions relating to the clothing. The model happened to be black, but anyone of any race could buy the hoodie. The model used to market clothing does not imply that only people of that race can or should wear that clothing. H&M simply said hey, we have this product – would you like to buy one? The ball to make a consequential decision rests exclusively with the consumer.

The outrage and terrorism that followed in the wake of the H&M ad was nothing more than a message to black people, telling them that society has deigned it inappropriate for them to wear clothing with particular inscriptions (or, presumably, illustrations) on them. Clearly, thus, society and in particular the snowflake crusaders and terrorists who were outraged by the ad, still have a lot of institutional racism to work through. Racism is alive and well.

If you find it inappropriate or offensive for me as a white male to write on this topic in this vein, please share this article to your friends, so you can come condemn me and accuse me of having white privilege blinkers, in the comments below.