(NEW YORK) — Following a social media post that called out fashion label Prada for selling and promoting racially insensitive products, the Italian brand has agreed in a settlement to undergo sensitivity training and implement changes.
In December 2018, civil rights lawyer Chinyere Ezie, posted several photos on Facebook of Prada figurines displayed in a New York City storefront that she said left her “shaking with anger.”
The images were of products under Prada’s “Pradamalia” lineup which included keychains and accessories in the shape of monkey figurines that resembled the blackfaced, red-lipped “Sambo” caricature — a racist depiction that has been used to mock and dehumanize people of color for generations.
“I entered the store with a coworker, only to be assaulted with more and more bewildering examples of their Sambo-like imagery,” Ezie said in the post.
“History cannot continue to repeat itself,” she continued. “Black America deserves better. And we demand better.” She concluded the post by encouraging others to use the hashtags #StopBlackface #BoycottPrada #EndRacismNow.
Ezie’s original Facebook post has since gone viral with more than 11,0000 shares.
Shortly after her post, Prada issued an apology via its Twitter account.
We are committed to creating products that celebrate the diverse fashion and beauty of cultures around the world. We’ve removed all Pradamalia products that were offensive from the market and are taking immediate steps to learn from this.
Full press release attached. pic.twitter.com/rKhnKjasDz
— PRADA (@Prada) December 16, 2018
“We are committed to creating products that celebrate the diverse fashion and beauty of cultures around the world,” the brand wrote in a statement. “We’ve removed all Pradamalia products that were offensive from the market and are taking immediate steps to learn from this.”
After the outcry, the NYC Commission on Human Rights launched an investigation into Prada’s storefront display and found that, “The display of such racist iconography manifests as discrimination on the basis of race, suggesting that Black people are unwelcome” and sent the fashion house a cease and desist letter last December.
On Monday, the NYC Commission filed a complaint accusing Prada of engaging in discriminatory practices, which the company denied. Today, New York City and Prada have reached a settlement. According to a statement from the NYC Human Rights Commission, “The settlement requires that Prada invest in restorative justice efforts to combat anti-Black racism and promote diversity and inclusion in Prada’s business activities, advertising, and products.”
The settlement also required that Prada to ensure that its New York City and Milan employees receive racial equity training, develop a scholarship program for people historically underrepresented in fashion, and establish diversity and inclusion policies and practices.
The settlement also required Prada’s New York City employees undergo New York City human rights law training by a licensed attorney.
“The de Blasio Administration is committed to protecting the rights of all New Yorkers to live free of racial bias and discrimination,” said J. Phillip Thompson, deputy mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives in a statement. “To see a symbol of Jim Crow era oppression sold as a luxury bauble is a critical reminder that there is still work to be done. By engaging Prada with communities who have been historically excluded from the luxury fashion industry, today’s settlement is an important step towards achieving positive social change in New York City.”
Along with many others, Ezie expressed gratitude for the settlement. “No one who experiences racism should suffer in silence,” she said in an Instagram post. “Our voices, our outrage, and our demands for dignified treatment can change the world. I am proud to see that my call-out of #blackface at @Prada ended with repair. This is what accountability looks like. “
“Good Morning America” requested a comment from Prada and has yet to receive one.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.