Never exactly a beacon of diversity, the Italian luxury label has been called out for selling merchandise featuring a “Pradamelia” character featuring the prominent red lips that are the signature of blackface caricatures.
The monkey character was called out by civil rights attorney Chinyere Ezie, who wrote on Facebook about the SoHo store in Manhattan after making a visit yesterday (December 13, 2018).
The label reacted quickly to the calls for a boycott today with a statement on Twitter: “Prada Group abhors racist imagery. The Pradamalia are fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre. They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface. We abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery.”
In the statement, it also stated, “We will withdraw all of the characters in question from display and circulation.”
While the monkey keychain isn’t available to purchase on prada.com, there are small, leather accessories detailed with a silhouette of the character.
In a post that included images, Ezie wrote, “Today after returning to NYC after a very emotional visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture including an exhibit on blackface, I walked past Prada’s Soho storefront only to be confronted with the very same racist and denigrating #blackface imagery.
“I entered the store with a coworker, only to be assaulted with more and more bewildering examples of their Sambo like imagery. When I asked a Prada employee whether they knew they had plastered blackface imagery throughout their store, in a moment of surprising candor I was told that *a black employee had previously complained about blackface at Prada, but he didn’t work there anymore.”
Check out Ezie’s post below.