Image via Manuel Esteban / Shutterstock.com

Luxury fashion brand Prada has come under fire for merchandise selling under its ‘Pradamalia’ line that features a character design many are describing as racist.

The hashtag ‘#boycottPrada’ began trending on Twitter after Chinyere Ezie, an activist and civil rights lawyer, shared a Facebook post that shows Prada’s NYC Soho storefront decorated with the blackface character. It sports bright red lips and a black skin tone. Ezie expressed her shock at seeing the character on display, which reminded her of an exhibition on blackface that she had seen at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“I entered the store with a coworker, only to be assaulted with more and more bewildering examples of their ‘Sambo-like’ imagery,” she wrote in the post. “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. History cannot continue to repeat itself. Black America deserves better. And we demand better.”

Internet users have also taken to Twitter to voice out their anger, with one Twitter user saying, “So, help me understand this @Prada, did you REALLY think this was okay? You mean to tell me NO ONE said, wait, this looks like ‘Coon Caricature’ from the Jim Crow era?? This is disgusting and ALL the merchandise should be pulled IMMEDIATELY! #BoycottPrada #BlackTwitter.”

Prada Group has released a statement on its Twitter page, announcing its decision to remove the character. “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,” the statement reads.

“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 continues.

The blackface character, which was displayed in the brand’s Soho store, has been removed. Its keychains, earrings and necklace charms featuring the character have also been taken down from Prada’s website.

I don’t make a lot of public posts, but right now I’m shaking with anger.

Today after returning to NYC after a very…

Posted by Chinyere Ezie on Thursday, December 13, 2018

[via Chinyere Ezie, opening image via Manuel Esteban / Shutterstock.com]

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