The parents of Liam Mango, the young black boy who was pictured in a racist H&M hoodie featuring the phrase “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” have publicly spoken out about the massive backlash that the clothing brand, as well as their own family, has received in the aftermath.
The boy’s mother, Terry Mango, doubled down on some of her initial comments made online, telling ITV’s This Morning that the hoodie never triggered any reaction from her in the moment.
“I wouldn’t see such a connection to anything other than my son modeling a shirt,” she said. “Until the controversy now, with the whole furor that is going on, then you kind of look back and wonder if you had noticed it, what would be our, or my, initial response to it.”
Terry Mango initially raised eyebrows after responding online to the outrage, telling people to “stop crying wolf” and “get over it,” adding that it was an “unnecessary issue.”
Speaking to ITV, Mango softened her language some, saying that the reaction to the hoodie was not necessarily an overreaction, but adding that everyone’s interpretation of racism may not be the same.
“It is not an overreaction when it comes to racism; everyone should act differently based on their opinions of what racism is,” she said, adding that she herself has faced racism and been called “monkey.”
“To put the T-shirt and the word ‘monkey’ with racism, maybe that is not my way of looking at it,” the mother added. “I’m just looking at Liam, a black young boy, modeling a T-shirt that has the word ‘monkey’ on it.
“Everybody should respect different opinions based on racism,” Mango said.
The family is now asking for their family life to be respected, noting that they have not been able to live a “normal family life” since the controversy broke.
“As much as people have gotten involved in this, for me, it’s very important that people understand that me and Teresa, we have a son, we have other children in the home that we are raising, and we have an obligation to protect our children,” Frank Odhiambo, Liam’s father, said.
The family have since moved out of their home because of the backlash.
“The most unfortunate thing is that my son is very young and there’s a lot that’s going to come with this and that really shakes me a little bit,” Odhiambo continued, adding that Liam did not know about the ire stirred up by the photo.
“He believes people love him for his modeling job,” Mango said. “He’s seen the pictures and he’s seen pictures online. He believes people love him for his modeling job and that he’s cool and confident in his job.”