ASOS is under fire for a T-shirt with the word ‘slave’ plastered on its front.
This shirt and other apparel has created a maelstrom on Twitter after users expressed outrage and concerns over the historical insensitivity implied by such merchandise.
The fact that it was being modeled by a Black man only added gasoline to the fire.
The shirt was designed by a street-wear graphic designer Russell Reid. He operated under the seller name Wasted Heroes that happens to be based out of Liverpool.
Twitter users saw the irony in releasing a product like this during Black History Month. ASOS owned up to the misstep, and the company issued an apology via Twitter:
“This product was created by an independent seller & we removed it from the Marketplace site asap- Sorry for any offense caused.”
— Sensational (@LowkeyMo_) February 2, 2016
ASOS trying to make being a slave indie ? pic.twitter.com/xDFTSS9ePG
— hails (@danhails97) February 3, 2016
Many of the Twitter users who pointed out the shirt were white. At this point, it is clear the designer made a regrettable decision hiring a Black model for the job, and the model made a poor decision agreeing to do this.
The English empire built its wealth off the backs of enslaved West African people. They left nations in constant turmoil and raped the lands of natural resources and valuables. The fact that Black history and Black people are trivialized like this shows the lack of respect Black people had to endure for far too long. In many cases, the English have failed to make amends for their actions and continue to take advantage of African nations for resources.
Since yesterday, the shirt and other “slave” apparel have been removed. ASOS is looking into fixing its unregulated marketplace after this incident.