Picture this: You’re having a great day after visiting the National Museum Of African American History and Culture. You’re feeling emotional after taking in all of the different exhibits, including one about blackface. But as you’re making your way home, you pass by a storefront, only to be confronted by the same blackface imagery.
Just last week, that exact scenario happened to Chinyere Ezie.
Ezie says it was Prada’s SoHo storefront in New York that caught her attention after leaving the Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History and Culture.
The window display featured small, monkey-like figurines in black and brown with oversized red lips — features that are commonly seen in historical blackface imagery. After seeing the images, Ezie, who is a civil rights attorney with the Centre for Constitutional Rights, was left “shaking with anger.”
She shared her experience on Facebook, which quickly caught the attention of individuals and news outlets.
In the post, Ezie explains that after seeing the figurines, she went into the store, only to be confronted with even more of the same imagery. She decided to speak with a Prada employee and ask if they had any idea that “they had plastered blackface imagery throughout their store.” Ezie was allegedly told that “a black employee had previously complained about blackface at Prada, but he didn’t work there anymore.”
Prada has since issued an apology and removed the seasonal window display at its New York location.
The Italian fashion house said in a statement that it “will withdraw the characters in question from display and circulation.” In addition, the company stated:
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. 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.
The product in question was a part of the company’s Pradamalia line — a line made up of mysterious creatures. The collection tells the story of creatures who were discovered in the “imaginary futuristic Prada Labs,” and have escaped into Prada stores. Keychains, t-shirts, and wallets feature the designs, and range between $460 to $895 USD.
While it looks like the problematic character has been removed from the fashion house’s website and stores, other characters in the collection remain.
You can see Ezie’s full Facebook post below.
Featured image: Facebook/Chinyere Ezie