Two of the world’s most powerful, renowned and affluent black men, LeBron James and Sean “Diddy” Combs, took to social media Monday to share uplifting images of the black child model featured in a racist photo from an H&M site.
On his Instagram account Monday night, King James posted an image of the black boy rocking a crown on both his head and his hoodie. The original photo of the boy in an H&M hoodie, which read “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” triggered a widespread backlash for its racially charged messaging.
“H&M you got us all wrong! And we ain’t going for it! Straight up!” James—who was, coincidentally, named 2017 Instagrammer of the Year by the USA Today sports site FTW—wrote.
“Enough about y’all and more of what I see when I look at this photo. I see a Young King!! The ruler of the world, an untouchable Force that can never be denied,” James continued. He concluded his empowering message with the hashtags #LiveLaughLove and #LoveMyPeople.
(Aside: I live for the fact that James appropriated #LiveLaughLove for this. I always thought that hashtag was the providence of the white sisterhood of the traveling Lululemon pants, and I am all here for James’ gentrification of it, especially in this context. Carry on.)
Earlier, Diddy posted a similar image.
“Put some respect on it,” Diddy wrote underneath an illustration of the H&M model wearing a green hoodie that read “Coolest King in the World.” “When you look at us make sure you see royalty and super natural God sent glory!! Anything else is disrespectful.”
As The Root’s Angela Helm wrote, these positive, inspiring renderings that circulated around social media Monday “turned pain into power,” and served as a welcome tonic to the original image, which paired an innocent and unnamed black boy with a term that had long been used as a slur against black people.
The uproar over the photo, which was originally found on H&M’s U.K. site, caused the Weeknd to sever ties with the brand, with whom he had previously collaborated.