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H&M Hires Diversity Leader After Backlash Over Racially Insensitive ‘Coolest Monkey’ Ad

Last week H&M received intense backlash after releasing a controversial ad featuring a black child wearing a sweatshirt with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle.” The brand was slammed on social media by a slew of celebrities for being racially insensitive, and two of its collaborators, The Weeknd and G-Eazy, ended their working relationship with the retailer. H&M took the criticism seriously, it says, and has taken steps to address its internal diversity problem.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, H&M wrote that the ad was not intentional. “The recent incident was entirely unintentional, but it demonstrates so clearly how big our responsibility is as a global brand,” the statement read. “We have reached out, around the world, inside and outside H&M to get feedback.”

Then the company announced that it appointed a new global leader to expand the feedback work. CNN Money reports that the new Global Leader for Diversity and Inclusiveness position will be filled by Annie Wu, who will also continue in her current role as H&M’s Global Manager of Employee Relations.

RELATED: See Stars Reactions to H&M’s Racially Insensitive Ad

The brand recently had to temporarily close all of its South African locations after protestors knocked over racks of clothing throughout stores.

“None of our staff or customers have been injured,” the brand said in a statement to the New York Times over its decision to close all stores in the area. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again. We strongly believe that racism and bias in any shape or form, deliberate or accidental, are simply unacceptable. We stress that our wonderful store staff had nothing to do with our poorly judged product and image.”

The brand later apologized to employees on Twitter, writing, “We would also like to apologize sincerely to our employees, many of whom were placed in highly stressful situations in the wake of protest action. It has been a difficult and challenging week for H&M but we remain fully committed to our South African operation.”

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Some Stars May Shun Black at the Golden Globes: ‘There’s Some Backlash to the Wear-Black Mandate’

As stars prepare for Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, the one sure bet is that the red carpet will be going dark, at least as far as the clothing is concerned. In solidarity with Hollywood’s anti-sexual harassment movement, now officially named Time’s Up, the plan has been for actresses (and the actors who support them) to wear black to send a united message. But as buzz has built around the moment and the movement, the inevitable resistance from some attendees has taken hold as well.

According to a PEOPLE source, “There’s some backlash to the wear-black mandate. Some feel women should celebrate their newfound power, strong voices and the future by wearing a wide variety of brighter shades. Instead of distracting from the real issue with a mandate to wear one particular color. There will be big important speeches, no doubt, and they will make a much better statement.”

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But that doesn’t mean everyone will be wearing brights, either. Stylist Ilaria Urbinati previously confirmed that her clients, such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tom Hiddleston and Armie Hammer would be taking a stand alongside the female stars, and Johnson confirmed this on his own as well.

“Because everyone keeps asking me… YES, the men WILL be standing in solidarity with women on this wearing-all-black movement to protest against gender inequality at this year’s Golden Globes,” Urbanati wrote. “At least ALL MY GUYS will be. Safe to say this may not be the right time to choose to be the odd man out here… just sayin…”

And actress Eva Longoria, who is one of the founding members of Time’s Up, spoke to the New York Times about the red carpet blackout, saying that many stars planned to participate in appropriately somber attire. “This is a moment of solidarity, not a fashion moment,” the star said. “For years, we’ve sold these awards shows as women, with our gowns and colors and our beautiful faces and our glamour. This time the industry can’t expect us to go up and twirl around. That’s not what this moment is about.”

-With reporting by Elizabeth Leonard

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Mika Brzezinski Says ‘Trump’s Racism Is Costing Lives’ in Puerto Rico as He Responds to Widespread Backlash Over Response

On Saturday, Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski criticized how Donald Trump’s actions were negatively affecting Puerto Rico just as the president went on a tweet storm in response to the backlash he has received for his perceived lackluster response to the crisis there.

“Hard to believe but this could be worse than Charlottesville… Trump’s racism is costing lives. #heisnotfit,” Brzezinski wrote, referencing the white nationalist march in Virginia in August and Trump’s widely criticized response where he failed to initially outright condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

So far Hurricane Maria — which ravaged the island on Sept. 20, leaving the entire island without electricity and destroying many homes — has claimed at least 16 lives in Puerto Rico so far, the Associated Press reports. Experts estimate that without electricity and supplies, that number could increase to thousands.

While Brzezinski didn’t elaborate on her claims about Trump being a “racist,” she is hardly the first person to speak out about his response to the storm. Dozens of officials and celebrities have criticized Trump for seemingly ignoring the crisis after the storm hit and, on Saturday morning, many more chimed in to condemn him after he slammed the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, for speaking out against him and begging for more aid.

On Saturday afternoon the president responded to the widespread backlash against his handling of the situation in Puerto Rico — insisting that he had been working with local officials to ensure that they were getting the help they needed.

“Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job being done in Puerto Rico. Great people!” he wrote.

Trump also complimented Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello, who said that the federal government has been helping the commonwealth with their recovery effort — but that they still needed more aid.

“The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, is a great guy and leader who is really working hard. Thank you Ricky!” Trump said.

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“Just spoke to Governor Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. virgin Islands who stated that #FEMA and Military are doing a GREAT job! Thank you Governor!” Trump continued.

”To the people of Puerto Rico: Do not believe the #FakeNews! #PRStrong” he continued. “We must all be united in offering assistance to everyone suffering in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the wake of this terrible disaster.”

Brzezinski, who has publicly clashed with the president in the past — and even becoming the target of some of his meaner tweets — responded to Trump’s defense saying it was “too late” and that “no one” believed him.

“Too late. No one believes you now,” she wrote. “But what else is new? #heisnotfit.”

Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 with ferocious 155-mph winds that ripped trees from the ground, tore roofs from buildings, and caused flooding that made many streets look like raging rivers. The most powerful storm of its kind to hit the island since 1932, it ravaged the island and left millions homeless.

Electricity has been knocked out completely, with residents in need of electricity having to rely on backup generators. Experts estimate it could take half a year to restore power to the 3.5 million people who live there. Cell phone service has also been completely shut down.

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Kendall Jenner Steps Out Amid Backlash Over Vintage ‘Rap vs. Rock’ T-Shirt Line

Supermodel Kendall Jenner was spotted at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday. And with all the controversy she’s found herself in this year — including the outrage this week over her recent vintage rap T-shirt line — it’s no wonder she wasn’t smiling wide.

The 21-year-old model, who was accompanied by sister Kourtney Kardashian, looked very serious as she entered the airport.

She wore a cropped teal top with matching hoodie and black Adidas track pants. Her hair in braids, Jenner kept her accessories simple — a pair of black sunglasses and high-heeled snakeskin boots.

Kendall and her sister Kylie introduced a line of limited edition $ 125 “Rap vs. Rock” tees as part of their latest Kendall + Kylie collection drop earlier this week — which featured the K.K. initials, Kendall’s superimposed face, and a silkscreen reproduction of an Instagram of Kylie in a bikini over images of Biggie and Tupac, Metallica, and Pink Floyd, among other iconic musicians.

The shirts quickly sparked backlash across the internet, with many users on Twitter calling the sisters out for being culturally and racially insensitive.

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Aside from that, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians stars also failed to reach out to the estates of these musical legends to secure the legal rights to the images — a fact Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace made crystal clear writing on Instagram, “The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me.  I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt.  This is disrespectful , disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!”

She wasn’t the only celebrity to speak out. Kelly Osbourne and Paris Jackson also took to social media to express their distaste for the reality stars’ designs, as did Kelly’s mom Sharon Osbourne — who tweeted one of the t-shirts featuring Kendall’s face overlaying an image of her husband Ozzy Osbourne yesterday, writing, “Girls, you haven’t earned the right to put your face with musical icons. Stick to what you know…lip gloss.”

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On Thursday, Kendall tweeted out an apology, which Kylie also shared:

“These designs were not well thought out and we deeply apologize to anyone that has been upset and/or offended, especially to the families of the artists,” she wrote in a note. “We are huge fans of their music and it was not our intention to disrespect these cultural icons in any way. The tee shirts have been pulled from retail and all images have been removed. We will use this as an opportunity to learn from theses mistakes, and again we are very sorry.”

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French TV Host Plays Cruel Joke On Gay Men And Sparks Global Backlash

A French television presenter is facing outrage after poking fun at gay people who responded to his spoof of a dating ad on his show.

On Monday’s episode of “Touche Pas à Mon Poste” (or “Don’t Touch My TV”), host Cyril Hanouna revealed that he’d posted an online ad claiming to be a bisexual man called Jean-José, the BBC reports. Jean-José was described in the ad as being “very sporty and well endowed.”

A clip from “Touche Pas à Mon Poste” shows Hanouna speaking in a snarky, somewhat effeminate tone as he chats with a man who replied to his ad. He’d also used a shirtless photo of filmmaker and YouTube personality Max Emerson in the ad. Emerson, 28, recently made waves when Instagram photos of him and his boyfriend, Andrés Camilo Hernandez, attending a military ball went viral. 

The segment quickly landed Hanouna in hot water. Nicolas Noguier of Le Refuge, a France-based LGBTQ advocacy group, told the BBC that one of Hanouna’s guests was “distressed” by the prank since he had yet to come out as gay to his parents. “We were devastated by his tears and his fear of being found out by his parents and those around him,” Noguier said, according to the report. 

The controversy prompted a number of high-profile advertisers, including Chanel, Nestlé and Disneyland Paris, to yank advertisements that aired during the primetime show. (BuzzFeed published a running list of companies that have pulled their advertisements from the show.) 

On Wednesday, GLAAD announced it was joining the Association of French LGBT Journalists in launching an online petition in both English and French asking supporters to speak out against Hanouna’s actions. Thus far, France’s Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, which regulates television content, had received more than 25,000 complaints in response to “Touche Pas à Mon Poste,” according to a GLAAD press release.

“This show not only humiliates gay people in the cruelest of styles, but glorifies a dangerous practice that continues to put gay men in harm’s way in France and around the world,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said in an email statement. Her organization, she said, urged “our global community to speak out against the use of online dating profiles and apps to entrap and harm innocent LGBTQ people.” 

Emerson echoed those sentiments, calling the unauthorized use of his photos “entirely unacceptable.” Earlier in the week, he blasted the move on Twitter. 

It isn’t the first time that Hanouna’s actions have made headlines. According to The Local, an English language French news site, viewers were angered by an October 2016 episode in which a “Touche Pas à Mon Poste” guest kissed a woman’s breasts on the air. In addition, the host frequently mentions homosexuality, “often to laugh about it in a disparaging manner,” on the program, according to the report

For his part, Hanouna said he was “hurt” by the allegations of homophobia, noting it was “everything he had been fighting against for years,” according to the BBC

For the latest in LGBTQ news, check out the Queer Voices newsletter. 

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Miley Cyrus Responds To Backlash Over Comments About Hip-Hop Music

Miley Cyrus took to social media Saturday to clarify controversial comments she made about rap and hip-hop music in a recent Billboard cover interview.

After talking to the magazine about her new music and her rekindled love for Liam Hemsworth, Cyrus said she “can’t listen to” rap music anymore.

“That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little,” she continued. “It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock’ — I am so not that.”

People quickly responded online, criticizing Cyrus for the ease with which she could discard a genre that had demonstrably influenced and propelled her previous public persona.

“When articles are read it isn’t always considered that for hours I’ve spoken with a journalist about my life, where my heart is, my perspective at that time, and the next step in my career,” Cyrus began an Instagram caption posted Saturday. “Unfortunately only a portion of that interview made it to print.”

“To be clear, I respect ALL artists who speak their truth and appreciate ALL genres of music (country, pop, alternative … but in this particular interview I was asked about rap),” she continued. “I have always and will continue to love and celebrate hip hop as I’ve collaborated with some of the very best!”  

It sounds like the singer’s intentions were good, but even with the added clarification, Cyrus doesn’t address the crux of much of the criticism — namely, how easily she felt she could don, and subsequently shed, sound and aesthetics borrowed from black culture and music. 

During the time of her 2013 release, “Bangerz,” Cyrus capitalized on the rising trap scene to cement her transition from Disney teen to full-fledged adult singer.

As HuffPost’s Zeba Blay pointed out, “What’s incredibly telling is how, once she achieved that success, it seemed like the plan was always to discard hip-hop music and black culture like the costume that it was,” also noting “how convenient it is for her to call out hip-hop’s misogyny” after trafficking in those same tropes for earlier iterations of her act.

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Netflix Responds To ’13 Reasons Why’ Backlash With New Trigger Warnings

Netflix has decided to alter the trigger warnings that play before its controversial series “13 Reasons Why.” 

By now, you’re probably aware that the show, based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher, tackles tough issues like sexual assault and suicide. In doing so, it features a few extremely graphic scenes that many believe are problematic.

Backlash surrounding the show has been swift, with mental health advocates claiming its difficult-to-watch scenes are troublesome. Asher and executive producer Selena Gomez, however, stand by the series and its depictions of the difficult topics. 

For their part, Netflix has warning cards in place ahead of three specific episodes ― two depict sexual assault, while the other shows Hannah’s suicide. But following the backlash, the streaming service has decided to alter their warnings. In addition to updating the current advisories, Netflix will add a new warning card before the first episode. 

According to Buzzfeed, the changes could be implemented as early as next week. 

Netflix released a statement about their decision to the outlet:

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about our series “13 Reasons Why.” While many of our members find the show to be a valuable driver for starting important conversation with their families, we have also heard concern from those who feel the series should carry additional advisories. Currently the episodes that carry graphic content are identified as such and the series overall carries a TV-MA rating. Moving forward, we will add an additional viewer warning card before the first episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series and have also strengthened the messaging and resource language in the existing cards for episodes that contain graphic subject matter, including the URL — a global resource center that provides information about professional organizations that support help around the serious matters addressed in the show.

Aside from the trigger warnings, there is a 30-minute special that viewers can watch after the series, called “13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons,” in which the cast members discuss the making of the show. The special feature also mentions a website with resources and information for anyone who feels like they might need help. 

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

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School Pulls Book About Gender Non-Conforming Kid After Backlash

A pair of children’s authors is firing back after a North Carolina school district scrapped plans to incorporate their book about a gender non-conforming boy into its anti-bullying curriculum. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg school administrators had been planning to use Jacob’s New Dress, about a young boy who likes to wear dresses, in first-grade classes as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. On Friday, however, Superintendent Ann Clark told The New York Times that the 2014 book had been replaced “due to some concerns” about content. Michael Hall’s Red: A Crayon’s Story, which follows a blue crayon misidentified with a red label, would be read instead. 

Written by Sarah and Ian HoffmanJacob’s New Dress had been criticized by the N.C. Values Coalition, which supports “standards in higher education that do not violate religious freedom and free speech rights of students” and is opposed to same-sex marriage, according to its website.

“The purpose of our elementary schools is to teach writing, reading and arithmetic, not to encourage boys to wear dresses,” an N.C. Values Coalition official wrote in a statement to The Charlotte ObserverJacob’s New Dress, the official argued, was “not appropriate for any child whose parents support traditional family values.”

The Hoffmans, who reside in California, said the furor that Jacob’s New Dress had generated was “confusing,” telling The Charlotte Observer that their book’s message was one of “love and acceptance.” The couple based the book on their experiences raising their 14-year-old son, Sam, who favored pink and once asked to wear a dress to preschool.  

Speaking to The Huffington Post, Ian Hoffman dismissed the N.C. Values Coalition’s claim that Jacob’s New Dress encouraged boys to wear dresses. “Our hope, when we wrote this book, was that someday it would be considered quaint,” he said. “We imagined future generations saying, ‘What was the fuss about?’ Clearly, there’s more work to do … our book is a small piece of a much larger effort to build a more empathetic, compassionate culture.”

In an interview with The Charlotte Observer, Sarah Hoffman echoed those sentiments, arguing against the implication that the book would somehow turn children gay or transgender. “If a white kid reads a book about Martin Luther King Jr.,” she said, “will they become black?”

The couple’s book has stirred controversy before. In 2015, some parents of kindergarten students in Pennsylvania’s Lampeter-Strasburg School District objected to Jacob’s New Dress being read to their children without prior notification.

An area pastor also spoke out against the book in an interview with Lancaster Online at the time, saying that a family associated with his church was troubled since they had a child in the class where the book had been read. 

“I am not suggesting that any of the school officials are pushing the gay agenda, yet their actions give the appearance that they are,” Pastor Jamie Mitchell of Harvest Bible Chapel said. He called upon Lampeter-Strasburg school administrators to “apologize, take responsibility and then publicly promise never to introduce this kind of material with this kind of agenda to our children.”

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Steve Martin Deletes Carrie Fisher Tribute After Backlash

Steve Martin’s tribute to the late Carrie Fisher did not sit well with some. 

The actor tweeted about Fisher, whom he called a friend, following the news that the “Star Wars” actress died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles last week. 

New York Magazine noted that Martin’s tweet focused on her physicality, rather than her talents. The actor ultimately deleted the tweet following the backlash. 

While some thought criticism of Martin was unjustified, others said Fisher ― a staunch feminist who spoke out against the objectification of women throughout her career ― wouldn’t have paid any mind to the “whiny dudes” getting mad over the clap-backs. 

A rep for Martin was not immediately available for further comment. 

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Fox Station Airs Distasteful Maya Angelou Headline, Triggers Twitter Backlash

A local Fox station may have made an unfortunate slip in its coverage of Maya Angelou’s death.

On Wednesday afternoon, Twitter account @SlowSlowNews posted a screenshot which appears to show Fox 26 — a channel that serves the Houston area — telling viewers that the literary icon was canceling an upcoming appearance.

Way to report on Maya Angelou, Fox 26 Houston

In response to the apparent faux pas, some Twitter users expressed their disdain.

Before her death, Angelou had indeed canceled a scheduled May 30 appearance at the 2014 MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon in Houston. According to an earlier AP report, Angelou said she wouldn’t be able to attend the event due to “health reasons.”

Angelou died at her Winston-Salem, N.C., home Wednesday. She was 86.
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