Why Protesters Trashing the H&M Store in South Africa Was Necessary and Admirable
As we prepare to mark another celebration of the late Martin Luther King Jr. — it’s hard to escape the avalanche of “shit” buried in the “hole” of ignorance — that is usually erected by White people who either pretend to be tone-deaf when it comes to the basics of outright bigotry — or are propelled by the freedom to be publicly offensive.
President Trump is a racist who has never wavered in his quest to appeal to the large population of Americans who waited long enough for a leader that proudly represents their brand of patriotism. He’s not sorry for his bad behavior and you can bet your bottom dollar that he won’t ever stop spewing out harmfully devastating rhetoric.
This is perhaps the main reason why those who are able to demonstrate their impatience and unwillingness to politely digest insults and injustice — should be allowed to do so with gusto.
Colin Kaepernick isn’t currently a free agent because of lack of talent and grace — it’s because of the risk he took to make a strong statement that resounded loud enough to even incite the ire of our Commander-in-Chief — who is apparently supportive of men and women in uniform — fighting for the safety and dignity of our nation — but can’t quite wrap his thick head around the concept of a soldier on the playing field — fighting for the honorable receipts of Black lives.
Another notable who quite frankly should know better is former secretary of State — Condoleezza Rice who based on her insightful session with David Axelrod (a former senior adviser to former President Obama) — truly enjoyed serving President George Bush — despite the glaring challenges of that administration.
While appearing on CNN’s “The Axe Files” to discuss the past and present climate of a bi-polar country that she still holds with high regard — Rice was asked a shitload of heavy duty questions and some of her answers were either spot on or downright murky.
She aced through the foreign policy stuff and even managed to expose the vulnerable side of a solid beast who is clearly in over his head when it comes to the office of the presidency.
But her reaction to Colin Kaepernick’s national moment of recognition was quite disappointing and plenty confusing — when you consider that Rice suffered through the appallingly dire temperament of the South — particularly in Birmingham, Alabama — where she grew up — the cite of the church bombings that killed four little Black girls (including her childhood friend Denise McNair).
Rice expressed the view that Kaepernick’s choice of venue for protesting police brutality wasn’t ideal — and in fact diluted the message he successfully conveyed. She went further to insinuate that such acts tend to inconvenience innocent citizens who are caught in the web of political discourse — when all they want to do is enjoy America’s favorite pastime — and honor the value of their over-priced tickets.
I’m confident that I’m not the only one who was dismayed by Rice’s comments and based on the reception of my tweet — I can support that assumption:
Protesting against something should never be a planned event that takes into account the comfort of those involved or gawking from the sidelines. It can’t be a pretty outing that attracts strollers with bright-eyed toddlers or supportive dads with broad shoulders — carrying cute prototypes of the next generation of feminists. It’s not supposed to be a civilized showing that is careful not to “isolate” those who can’t relate or who are too cowardly for their own good — and prefer not to be inconvenienced with the pending issues they know enough about — but don’t care for.
Protesting is supposed to be exactly what is happening in South Africa — as H&M stores are being trashed with fury by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF). The uproar started with the ad campaign featuring a gorgeous Black boy sporting a sweatshirt with the words “coolest money in the jungle” blazed on it.
The image rightfully sparked a global outrage that forced celebrities with endorsement deals to readily back out to prove their shock and disbelief that a company like H&M could so blatantly miss the mark — despite the army of researchers and marketers who are supposedly employed for the benefit of ensuring that shit like this never happens.
H&M may have roots in Sweden— but it appears that literally nobody in corporate had the sense to stop the bomb from detonating. No one was “Woke” enough to point out that assigning the label of any primate in the jungle to a model of color is historically a very bad idea.
It’s worth noting that the mother of the boy donning the unfortunate garment — issued a statement condemning the controversy and supporting the ad — which is a topic for another day — as it it has been determined that she isn’t American.
That being said — the vandalizing of stores across Johannesburg — bearing the trademark of H&M and housing its less than stellar merchandise is absolutely necessary and admirable — because it’s the only way to effectively command the attention of those accused with the encouragement of like-minded folks — all over the world
As they say — “no pain, no gain” and yes — the employees stationed at the targeted branches as well as their potential customers will have to contend with an extended pause to their daily routines — that could also affect their wallets — but that’s the consequence borne out of the ugliness of inequality and normalized bigotry that still continues to dominate mainstream culture.
Extreme hatred calls for a response that matches such intensity and there’s no way to stage anger and frustration without making the ground rumble with the noise of warriors — raiding silent spaces — and offering themselves as tokens of an uprising — that has never deviated from the path that is already lit with the footsteps of those that ran ahead of us.
From Nelson Mandela to Martin Luther King Jr. — there can’t ever be the fear of disrupting the status quo or the beer breaks of privileged ticket holders when it comes to taking the National Anthem to task or forcing police officers to mop the blood off the streets they terrorize.
As long as Black and Brown lives are at risk of mass deportation, police brutality, and what can be reasonably defined as inhumane treatment — not to mention the atrocious “shoutout” by the so-called leader of the free world — it will always be necessary to anticipate the never-ending bullshit that will always require the kind of response that can’t be mounted for your comfort.
And that’s what makes it all so admirable.