monkeyRace is still a very sensitive subject in this country. Without fail, it either makes people angry or uncomfortable. Those are certainly the feelings sparked by a recent clothing display in the kiddie department of a store. At issue is a t-shirt featuring a monkey's body that was placed on a hanger that pictures a black child's head. Some people may think, "What's the big deal?" But this is wrong on so many levels. Here's why?

It's not just a simple, silly insult. It's not a case of being oversensitive to a comparison. There is a deep, tragic, and painful history behind it.You see, black people were often hatefully referred to as gorillas, apes, or monkeys in the antebellum South. For many slave owners, thinking of blacks as animals justified the vicious treatment. And these weren't just rude names lobbed at them, some whites actually believed blacks to be more animal than human.

Even after the civil war, bigots used the association to justify Jim Crow laws and violence against those who stood up against segregation. Not to mention the demeaning and cruel coon caricatures depicting blacks as monkey-like. Those cartoons were common even as late as the 1960s. In fact, those images still pop up on the Internet even today. I've even seen a cartoon of Michael Jordan as an ape.

This is why that clothing store mishap strikes a chord with so many people. That history, thankfully, was not lost on the clothing manufacturer.

In a statement, the company apologized:

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.

The statement also indicated that they would have mandatory training to make sure that this does not happen again. It's a shame that such a thing is still necessary but sadly, it is.

Do you think this was insulting to Black people?

 

Image via K. (elchekatzo)/Twitter