ASOS just removed an item after being accused of "profiting from black culture"
12 December 2018, 15:18 | Updated: 12 December 2018, 15:21
"You love everything to do with blackness EXCEPT FOR actual black people."
People are putting ASOS on blast for selling socks with what they called a "roadman design". According to Urban Dictionary, a roadman is a young, tracksuit-wearing boy who hangs around and usually commits crime. The word was popularised by Black working class people. The black and white socks feature words taken from popular slang terms like "don't look so shook", "jokes" and "mandem".
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Fitness studio founder Kelechi Okafor branded the fashion giant "disgusting" for fetishising black communities without any engagement with them and dragged them on Twitter. She tweeted: "So @ASOS you’ve clearly gone mad. What the fuck is a 'roadman design'?? Why do you have people working for you who clearly don’t know what they’re talking about??! Do you even know what a roadman is??"
The disgusting way that companies draw from the vernacular of marginalised communities, seems to be getting worse.— Kelechi Okafor (@kelechnekoff) December 11, 2018
There was the sportsbrand that threw a traphouse party and sent their guests trap phones etc.
The glamorisation of the black working class is something that corporations in the US and UK have made the most money from.— Kelechi Okafor (@kelechnekoff) December 11, 2018
Meanwhile the same black working class are still stopped and searched at a disproportionate rate. Still dying in fires that nobody is being jailed for.
You don’t want to hire more black people but you want all of their things. You’ll use the vernacular in the most horrendous inappropriate way and think you’re cute for it. @ASOS— Kelechi Okafor (@kelechnekoff) December 11, 2018
The co-opting of terminology that is then weaponised against us is a trend.
Using the term roadman to sell socks when in real life you and your white self can sell drugs and the judge will be lenient. A “roadman” would get a wild sentence though.— Kelechi Okafor (@kelechnekoff) December 11, 2018
That’s why you’re trash. The reality is that “roadmen” aren’t afforded your liberties.
If you don’t want to hire more black people @ASOS and ACTUALLY LISTEN TO THEM then stop making products that borrow from our communities. You don’t have the range or the understanding to pull it off. This is a clear example that you’re not about that life.— Kelechi Okafor (@kelechnekoff) December 11, 2018
The socio-economic disadvantages that would most likely make someone a roadman are lost on you but you’ll happily name socks like that to make profit. Irony.— Kelechi Okafor (@kelechnekoff) December 11, 2018
Gentrifying everywhere you go but it’s fine because you’ve learned a term like “roadman” to fit in.
And it wasn't just Kelechi who was pissed about the design either.
I had to tweet twice about this...this is actually unbelievable. With all the killings going on rn in London’s streets, they profited off one of the most harrowing and traumatic aspects of blackness here in the U.K.???? Wow— Harry Tubman (@plantationtales) December 12, 2018
What upsets my soul a out this is that they are blatantly designed ironically to ridicule black people this literally is disgusting right word anyone who spends money on these is 🗑️🚮— laya nuro (@layalovesya) December 11, 2018
...what in the what is this? ..... Are they serious???— Curlture (@curltureuk) December 11, 2018
Who allows these things to happen? “I’m just on ASOS, buying a pair of “roadman socks” https://t.co/JrFZ1PZVhz— Shingi Mararike (@ShingiMararike) December 11, 2018
Since the backlash, ASOS has removed the product.
A spokesperson for ASOS told Metro.co.uk: "We are very sorry this product caused offence. We removed it from our site as soon as it was brought to our attention and will work with our team to address the naming issue."