Gucci Issues Apology in Wake of Blackface Accusations

MILAN – Facing accusations that a balaclava-style sweater available on its online shop and physical stores evoked blackface, Gucci issued a statement on Thursday through its Twitter account.
“We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make,” the statement read.
The black knit top is a turtleneck style covering the bottom half of the face with a cutout and giant red lips around the mouth. The item is no longer available on the brand’s online shop and the company said it was removed it from brick-and-mortar stores, as well.
“We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond,” the company remarked.

Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper.We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. Full statement below.
— gucci (@gucci) February 7, 2019

Social media users, especially on Twitter, expressed a wave of disapproval.
“Balaclava knit top by Gucci. Happy Black History Month y’all,” wrote Rashida, pointing to the annual observance in the U.S. and Canada celebrating

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Criticized for Charms That Evoke Blackface, Prada Says It ‘Abhors Racist Imagery’

Facing online accusations that animal-like figurines and charms in its stores and windows evoke blackface, Prada Group issued a statement saying it “abhors racist imagery” and vowed to withdraw them from “display and circulation.”
In a Facebook post, Chinyere Ezie, a civil rights lawyer, said the sight of the figurines in the Italian brand’s store in New York’s SoHo district had her “shaking with anger,” describing “racist and denigrating #blackface imagery” and “Sambo like imagery.”

Ezie noted she had just returned from a visit to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, taking in an exhibit on blackface.
“History cannot continue to repeat itself. Black America deserves better. And we demand better,” she wrote in her post, which got picked up by other blogs. “Shame on you Prada.”

In a statement, Prada said the figures are “fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre” and known as Pradamalia.
“They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface. Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery. In this interest we will withdraw the characters in question from display and circulation,” it said.
Prada also

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Megyn Kelly Apologizes Again for Blackface Comments Amid Criticism from Today Colleagues

Megyn Kelly began Wednesday’s episode of Megyn Kelly Today with two words: “I’m sorry.”

Holding back tears, the longtime journalist apologized again after defending white people who wear blackface on Halloween, asking why it was racist, during the show, Tuesday.

“I defended the idea, saying as long as it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed okay. Well I am wrong and I am sorry,” she said.

“One of the great parts of sitting in this chair each day is getting to discuss different points of view. Sometimes I talk and sometimes I listen. And yesterday I learned,” Kelly, 47, continued. “I learned that given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country it is not okay for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise.”

She added: “I have never been a PC kind of person. But I do understand the value in being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity. This past year has been painful for many people of color. The country feels so divided and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor. I want to be part of that. Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too.”

A panel discussion on the issue between Kelly, Roland Martin and Amy Holmes followed the host’s statement — with her admitting at the end, “For my part, I have been listening and learning.”

RELATED: Megyn Kelly Asks if Wearing Blackface on Halloween Is Racist: ‘When I Was a Kid, That Was Okay’

Kelly’s apology came amid backlash for her comments, which were made during a discussion about censoring Halloween costumes with Jacob Soboroff, Melissa Rivers and Jenna Bush Hager during Tuesday’s episode.

“What is racist?” Kelly had asked. “Because truly you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on white face for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character.”

“On Halloween, you’ve got guys running around with fake axes coming out of their heads. It’s going to be jarring,” Kelly said on Tuesday. “You gotta be able to take it.”

As an example, Kelly defended Real Housewives of New York City star Luann de Lesseps, who had previously apologized for wearing a Diana Ross costume on the Bravo show. “Who doesn’t love Diana Ross? She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day, and I don’t know how that got racist on Halloween,” Kelly said.

Twitter was quick to respond, with stars like Patton Oswalt and Padma Lakshmi slamming Kelly’s views on social media.

“I cannot believe the ignorance on this in 2018,” Lakshimi wrote. “You are on national television. You have a responsibility to educate yourself on social issues @megynkelly. This is so damaging.”

Kelly’s Today show colleagues also spoke out about her comments during Today‘s 7 a.m. hour.

“The fact is, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the county,” Al Roker said. “This is a history, going back to the 1830s minstrel shows. To demean and denigrate a race wasn’t right. I’m old enough to have lived through Amos ‘n’ Andy where you had white people in blackface playing two black characters just magnifying the stereotypes about black people. And that’s what the big problem is. … No good comes from it. It’s just not right.”

“She said something stupid, she said something indefensible,” added Craig Melvin.

Prior to Wednesday’s show, Kelly had issued an apology to her NBC colleagues in an internal email.

“One of the wonderful things about my job is that I get the chance to express and hear a lot of opinions. Today is one of those days where listening carefully to other points of view, including from friends and colleagues, is leading me to rethink my own views,” Kelly began in her email, obtained by PEOPLE.

“When we had the roundtable discussion earlier today about the controversy of making your face look like a different race as part of a Halloween costume, I suggested that this seemed okay if done as part of this holiday where people have the chance to make themselves look like others. The iconic Diana Ross came up as an example. To me, I thought, why would it be controversial for someone dressing up as Diana Ross to make herself look like this amazing woman as a way of honoring and respecting her?” she continued.

Kelly acknowledged that she now realizes “that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.”

The former Fox News anchor concluded by telling the NBC News staff that she is “honored to work with all of you every day.”

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Television Mogul Byron Allen Defends ‘Blackface’ Obama Comment

It appears television mogul and host of “Comics Unleashed” Byron Allen is standing by previous comments he made referring to President Barack Obama as a “white president in blackface.”

Earlier this week, Allen spoke to a TMZ cameraperson about his disappointment over the words the president chose in discussing last month’s violent tensions in Baltimore, referring to some of those rioting as “thugs” during an April 28 press conference.

Yesterday, Allen followed up on his comments during an appearance on “TMZ Live,” elaborating on his frustrations with the Obama administration.

“What we’re witnessing is a national crisis,” he said. “When you see young black men on the streets rioting it’s because of the two Americas. And by the way, in a lot of black cities unemployment amongst black men is 50 percent.”

According to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate for African-American males over 20 years old is 9.2 percent — nearly twice the rate of unemployment among white men in the same age group. An October 2014 report in Al Jazeera notes high incarceration rates, lack of training, and discrimination as some of the contributing factors for the gap.

After launching his comedy career as a staff writer alongside Jay Leno and David Letterman and becoming the youngest standup comedian to appear on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” Allen founded Entertainment Studios in 1993. Entertainment Studios is now a global media production and distribution company with eight HD networks.

In his TMZ interview, the Detroit-native and television veteran claimed his public criticism towards the president stems from a previous in-person encounter during a dinner when he personally invited the president to have a meeting about his concerns over racist comments made by former AT&T president Aaron Slator, and the broader problem of race and racism in corporate settings.

Despite his invitation, Allen has yet to hear a response from POTUS.

“As the President of the United States if you’re going to call those kids in Baltimore ‘thugs’ why don’t you talk to the chairman of AT&T who’s calling us the n-word, covering it up for two years, and say ‘you need to sit down and talk to Knoyme King and Byron Allen and resolve these issues,’” he said. “You can’t be the biggest telecommunications company in the world calling us the n-word. You’re the president, but you’re also black man.”

Prior to Slator’s April termination from AT&T, the former advertising and sales executive was the subject of a $ 100 million discrimination lawsuit after a 50-year-old African-American woman and employee, Knoyme King, accused him of subjecting her to discriminatory behavior and using his work phone to send racially offensive images, according to reports.

As for a resolution to Allen’s concerns, he went on record during his “TMZ Live” appearance to state that he’s not mad at President Obama and is still open to sitting down with him for a conversation on the topic.

Allen did not immediately respond to a HuffPost request for comment.

Check out more of Byron Allen’s comments in the clip above.

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Jesse Tyler Ferguson Responds After Tuc Watkins Deems ‘Modern Family’ Couple The Gay Equivalent Of ‘Blackface’

Jesse Tyler Ferguson took to social media after a fellow actor criticized the portrayal of a same-sex couple on “Modern Family” as being “the gay equivalent of ‘blackface.’

The 39-year-old Ferguson, who has nabbed five Emmy nominations for his work on “Modern Family,” said he knew “lots of guys” who could relate to Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitch (Ferguson).

We can’t be expected to represent every gay person,” he wrote on Facebook. “We can only represent these two people. Also, Mitch is basically a version of me…so I never know how to take it when people say
that he is stereotypical. And in defense of Cam, I still can’t figure out how a clown & football coach who also happens to be gay is a stereotype.”

He went on to note, “As a closeted kid of the ’80s I would have loved to have had a show like ‘Modern Family’ to watch with my parents. It would have meant a lot to me to see who I secretly was reflected on television. TV has come a long way and it continues to forge new ground.”

You can check out Ferguson’s full Facebook post here.

Ferguson’s remarks followed those of “Desperate Housewives” actor Tuc Watkins. The openly gay Watkins, who played Bob Hunter on “Housewives” and can currently be seen on “Awkward,” said he had “a hard time laughing at the gay guys” on “Modern Family,” arguing that the show’s portrayal of a same-sex couple “doesn’t feel ‘modern’ at all.”

“It feels a little bit like the gay equivalent of ‘blackface,'” he added, according to reports. “Sure, people come in all shapes, sizes, etc. So why are we fed such ’80s stereotypes every week?”

Earlier this year, “Modern Family” came under fire from the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who argued that the ABC series was “designed to make you think that same-sex households are wonderful” and “the optimum nurturing environment for children,” while depicting heterosexual marriage as “bondage, dreary,” and “gloomy.”

“People are just watching TV to be entertained,” Fischer said at the time, “not realizing that their view of life is being twisted in a way that’s very harmful to them and harmful to our culture.”

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