From Pepsi to Urban Outfitters, it’s all too common for large corporations to devise marketing strategies or products that strike many as tone deaf. And in the most recent example of lacking racial sensitivity, American Eagle issued an apology after one of its new men’s bracelets resembling a shackle caused outrage on Twitter.
One Twitter user noticed the bracelet in an American Eagle store on December 11th. The metal screw cuff reminded him of the shackles worn by American slaves, and he tweeted his disbelief at the bracelet along with side-by-side photos of the bracelet and shackles.
Other Twitter users also criticized the resemblance, saying that it was overtly racist for the company to sell the bracelets and questioning how the design got approved in the first place. American Eagle issued a statement on December 12th apologizing and saying it would pull the bracelets.
American Eagle’s apology didn’t resonate for every Twitter user. Some felt that the apology was insincere and that the damage caused by the offensive bracelet couldn’t be undone.
Others pointed out that the problem could only be remedied if American Eagle took greater steps to include diversity among its corporate staff.
Selling products that eerily evoke slavery is not okay. It’s not enough to recall offensive products; they should never be produced in the first place. And the best way to make sure products aren’t offensive is to hire a diverse staff who can tell you when something seems like a bad idea. Racism can have very real consequences — including affecting people’s mental health, so it’s important to end it. Hopefully, after the backlash American Eagle has faced over this slave shackle “bracelet,” they’ll make changes and do better in the future.