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Athletic brand Lululemon has apologised for its now-former art director’s Instagram post sharing a link to a racist “bat fried rice” T-shirt design.
Lululemon, lambasted on social media since senior global art director Trevor Fleming shared the image of the anti-Asian shirt on Sunday, called the post “inappropriate and inexcusable.”
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“At Lululemon, our culture and values are core to who we are, and we take matters like this extremely seriously,” Erin Hankinson, a spokesperson for the Canada-based company, said in a statement to HuffPost. “The t-shirt design is not a Lululemon product. We apologize that an employee was affiliated with promoting an offensive t-shirt. … The image and the post were inappropriate and inexcusable, and we do not tolerate this behavior.”
Fleming, the company noted, is “no longer an employee of Lululemon.”
The uproar started Sunday when Fleming, a Lululemon executive since 2017, shared a link on his since-deleted Instagram page for a T-shirt design by California artist Jess Sluder.
The shirt, called the “bat fried rice” tee, featured an image of a bat-winged Chinese food take-out box and the words, “No Thank You.”
Members of the Asian American community quickly spoke out against the racist shirt on social media.
There have been 100+ daily attacks on Asian Americans since the start of #COVID19. To see people adding to the hurt & racism hurts my heart. I hope someone picks up this story and these individuals take responsibility. I am more proud than ever to be part of the AA community. ✊🏼 pic.twitter.com/nWy9WJeMVE
— Kamauri Yeh (@yehwho) April 19, 2020
Others denounced Fleming and his employer Lululemon, with some suggesting a boycott and others demanding an apology.
Please apologize publicly on your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels. We don’t want to see you “doing nothing” in the face of racism. We’ll like to see acknowledgement and change
— Marie (@sojuswarrior) April 21, 2020
the most offensive thing is thinking people would buy this shirt for $60 pic.twitter.com/F8eYZUwSOc
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) April 21, 2020
Hey @lululemon@trevorfleming I have been physically and verbally attacked as a result of the increased racism post-Covid19. It’s because of racist tropes like “bat fried rice” that I get to be repeatedly victimized #BoycottLululemon
— badnewsbears (@badnewsbears) April 22, 2020
@lululemon Shame on you for trying to profit off xenophobia during these very tough times, continuing to spread misinformation & spur fear with this tasteless shirt! #covid19#Xenophobia#Hateisavirus#boycottlululemonpic.twitter.com/7MGzGsRhjq
— 🧢 corpworlddropout_silvie 🧢🌊🐳 (@corpworlddropo1) April 21, 2020
Fleming has since gone dark on social media, deleting his Instagram and LinkedIn pages. He told NBC News he apologised for sharing the link to the shirt.
“It is something I deeply regret, and my eyes have been opened to the profound ripple effect that this mistake has had,” Fleming reportedly said. “I apologise to those that have been hurt by this … I commit to standing up against racist or discriminatory behaviour and will work hard to ensure that my personal and professional contributions in the future are kind, inclusive and supportive.”
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