The parents of Liam Mango, the young black boy who was pictured in an H&M hoodie with the phrase “coolest monkey in the jungle,” have now publicly spoken out.
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning on Monday, Terry Mango and Frank Odhiambo, Liam’s mother and father, respectively, spoke on the backlash H&M has received from the picture. Mango, who had previously told people to “get over it” in regards to the picture on Facebook, said that the image did not trigger a reaction from her initially.
“I wouldn’t see such a connection to anything other than my son modeling a shirt,” she said. “Until the controversy now, with the whole furore that is going on, then you kind of look back and wonder if you had noticed it, what would be our, or my, initial response to it.”
She also added that the response the image received from people was not an overreaction, although she also stated that everyone’s interpretation of racism may not be the same. She provided an example where she was called a “monkey” on a cruise ship once but that her reaction “was the same as the world is reacting to me right now.”
“It is not an overreaction when it comes to racism, everyone should act differently based on their opinions of what racism is,” Mango said. “To put the T-shirt and the word ‘monkey’ with racism, maybe that is not my way of looking at it.
“I’m just looking at Liam, a black young boy, modeling a T-shirt that has the word ‘monkey’ on it,” she continued. “Everybody should respect different opinions based on racism.”
The family is hoping to return to living a “normal family life,” having been forced to move out of their home in Stockholm, Sweden following the controversy.
“As much as people have gotten involved in this, for me it’s very important that people understand that me and Teresa, we have a son, we have other children in the home that we are raising, and we have an obligation to protect our children,” Odhiambo said.