He Was in a Controversial H&M Ad. Now He's Had to Move

Family of 5-year-old Liam Mango says they had to vacate their home for 'security reasons'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2018 8:01 AM CST
'Security Reasons' Spur Family of Young H&M Model to Move
An undated photo of the ad for a hoodie by H&M is shown here featuring model Liam Mango.   (H&M via AP)

Controversy keeps swirling around H&M and an online ad that showed a young black boy in a hoodie with the words "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle." The ad has since been removed, but the family of 5-year-old Liam Mango, the ad's model, now says they had to move out of their home in Sweden for "security reasons," Liam's mom, Terry Mango, tells the BBC. Mango didn't get too much into those reasons for vacating their Stockholm residence, but she did mention violent protests in South African H&M stores as a factor. Mango has come under fire herself for her reaction to the ad: The New York Post reports on a series of now-deleted Facebook posts in which she said she didn't think the ad was racist and told people to stop "crying wolf" over this "unnecessary issue" and to "get over it." She elaborated to the BBC that "I know racism exists, but does the shirt to me speak racism? No it doesn't."

Mango and Liam's dad, Frank Odhiambo, appeared on a Swedish morning show this week, where Mango says she was once called a monkey herself on a cruise ship and understands why some might be upset about the ad, per Newsweek. Odhiambo says they had to move because they "have an obligation to protect our children," the Independent reports. The one person kept out of the fray so far: little Liam himself. "He has no idea what's going on, he's only 5," Mango tells the BBC, adding that he "has not experienced [racism yet]." Meanwhile, H&M, which was criticized for its first brief apology, has issued a second, lengthier one, per Quartz. "We agree with all the criticism that this has generated—we have got this wrong and we agree that, even if unintentional, passive or casual racism needs to be eradicated wherever it exists," it reads. (More H&M stories.)

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