The family of the boy at the center of the H&M controversy has sat down for a TV interview and they say their lives have changed drastically amid the hoopla. Teresa “Terry” Mango and Frank Mango, the parents of 5-year-old model Liam, say the “Coolest Monkey In the Jungle” hoodie was not discussed during the shoot.
But Terry said if she did notice, she “wouldn’t see such a connection to anything other than my son modeling a shirt.”
Terry has faced criticism for telling people to “stop crying wolf” over the now-pulled hoodie. Reaction proved so fierce that members of a racial political group in South Africa raided several H&M stores and toppled local displays. It led to a temporary closure of H&M stores in the nation, but eNews Channel Africa reported the shops reopened Sunday, Jan. 14 with tight security.
Yet, the mother added that she didn’t feel the response was an “overreaction.”
“Everyone should act differently based on their opinions of what racism is — I know what racism is. I have had racist remarks directed at me first hand … I’ve been called monkey before on a cruise ship.”
“To put the T-shirt and the word ‘monkey’ with racism, maybe that is not my way of looking at it,” she added. “I’m just looking at Liam, a Black young boy, modeling a T-shirt that has the word ‘monkey’ on it. And I think everybody should respect different opinions based on racism.”
The backlash has caused the family to move out of their home, with Frank saying they have other kids they’re raising and that they as parents “have an obligation to kind of protect our children.”
Still, Liam isn’t aware of the controversy, he simply knows that everyone loves him.