When it comes to talking about race, companies are still basically sending us the bug letter

by Julie Graber | on 11 Aug 2020

Send this crank the bug letter.

That was the thought that came to mind while reading a recent report on the use of a racial slur in the name of a purple beanie by the clothing company & Other Stories. As The Guardian reported, after complaints from employees, the beanie has been pulled and the company has apologized. 

In response to the incident, & Other Stories released the statement: “we take the use of racially offensive language extremely seriously and we understand the frustration and disappointment this situation has caused.“

In a separate statement released to Reuters, an H&M (parent company) spokesperson said “We take the use of racially offensive language extremely seriously. While internal and external investigations are taking place, we have suspended the team and managers responsible for this area of the business."

And the CEO of H&M weighed in, noting that “This is totally unacceptable and should never have happened. It is a serious breach of our policies and goes against everything we stand for. We take the use of racially offensive language extremely seriously.”

Clearly they take the use of racially offensive language seriously. Which is good, because this isn’t the first time the company has gotten itself into trouble.

The repetition in the message brought to mind the “bug letter.” As the story goes, a customer complained after finding a bug in his cereal. The company responded with the sincerest of apologies and a promise to research the problem so it wouldn't happen again. Unfortunately, someone included the writer's original letter with the apology. On it was scribbled “send this crank the bug letter.” 

Even in the midst of a global reckoning on racial injustice, companies are still basically sending us the bug letter.

It might as well be their "thoughts and prayers."

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