One Kid’s View of Corporate Irresponsibility

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Urban Outfitters Inc. owns the popular indie stores Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. The company runs roughly 2,000 of these stores around the globe, employs thousands of people and has received several awards for efforts to preserve history through their products.

Who could have a problem with such a great corporation? Well, many people could, and many people do. Urban Outfitters managed to upset the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, LGBT advocacy groups and women advocacy groups.

The earliest social upset occurred in 2003, when Urban Outfitters started selling Ghettopoly, a parody of the popular family board game, Monopoly. The parody board game replaces the four railroads on the original Monopoly board with four liquor stores, while “Ghetto Stash” and “Hustle” substitute for the original “Community Treasure” and “Chance” squares.

The game pieces include a block of crack cocaine, a pimp, a basketball, and a 40-oz.bottle of beer. In the center of the board, Ghettopoly is printed in large red letters with a large African American male wearing a red doorag emerging out of the “O” wielding a gun in his left hand and a large bottle of alcohol in his right. The Associated Press reported the game includes “Ghetto Stash” and “Hustle” cards reading, “You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50 from each playa,” and, “You’re a little short on loot, so you decided to stick up a bank. Collect $75.” The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was outraged. During an interview with The Baltimore Sun, http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2003-10-11/news/0310110153_1_urban-outfitters-hasbro-games-monopoly  Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP announced he wrote to the original designer of the product regarding the racism present in the game and received a half-hearted response stating that the creator did not mean to offend anyone, but regardless will not change or stop selling the board game.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is an international organization that has attempted to prevent anti-Semitism since it’s formation in 1913. The ADL Press Center reported that they had their first dispute with Urban Outfitters in 2004 when the store released a T-Shirt that the ADL thought was promoting the stereotype of the so-called Jewish American Princess (JAP) and the other extremely popular stereotype that Jews are infatuated with money. The ADL Press Center described the shirt, reporting it originally contained graphics such as shopping bags and dollar signs surrounding the words “Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl.” ADL announced that they were very happy with Urban Outfitters' decision to adjust the shirt to only include the words without the graphics. http://www.adl.org/PresRele/DiRaB_41/4438_41.htm

Urban Outfitters and ADL had no further controversy until April of 2012 when Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/adl-slams-urban-outfitters-over-holocaust-t-shirt-1.425695  reported that Urban Outfitters released a yellow shirt with a light blue emblem resembling the Star of David on the left breast pocket. ADL Press Center reported that ADL Regional Director Barry Morrison believed that Urban Outfitters had reached a new low. He claimed that the company was making a mockery of the Holocaust by retailing a shirt that used the identical yellow color of the Jewish Star which Jewish people were forced to wear in World War II.

In June of 2010, Urban Outfitters released a women’s shirt that had the words “Eat Less” scrawled in cursive on the torso, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Women advocacy groups were outraged, ordering Urban Outfitters to pull the shirt from shelves and take it off of their website. Urban removed the product from their website but not from their shelves. Reporters at The Huffington Post called stores in New York, one of which said that the shirt was in stock, but only large sizes were available. http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2010/06/urban_outfitters_stopped_selli.html

In February of this year Urban Outfitters released a line of St. Patrick’s Day themed apparel, which almost immediately grabbed the attention of the media. The collection included a women’s shirt with “Kiss Me. I’m Drunk Or Irish, Or Whatever” printed on the torso, a white women’s t-shirt with green lettering which spelled, “I’m a F[clover leaf]cking Leprechaun” on the torso, another women’s tank top which had “IRISH I Were DRUNK” printed on the torso, and a truckers hat with green mesh and a white front which had a graphic of a man on his hands and knees throwing up with the words “Irish Yoga” above and “downward facing upchuck” under the graphic according to an article in the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2108948/St-Patricks-Day-Urban-Outfitters-T-shirts-Irish-Americans-fury-disrespectful-slogans.html.

Abolishing the word “tranny” from the public’s vocabulary --  a word with a typically negative connotation when used in conversation at present -- has been a goal of the gay community for years. LGBT activists have found numerous ways to inform society of how hurtful the word can be and have made progress in removing it from most of the population’s vocabulary. However, earlier this year, Urban Outfitters released a transphobic, or homophobic, greeting card imitating the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill, which made an exceptionally offensive slur about closeted transgenders, as reported by The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/urban-outfitters-all-its-recent-controversies-explained/2012/03/29/gIQAP2lDjS_blog.html  Jill had gone up the hill and Jack followed to look up her skirt, but Jack is surprised to notice that “Jill was a closet tranny.”

In the past seven years Urban Outfitters Inc. has offended African Americans with their racist board games, Irish Americans, the Jewish population and women advocacy groups with their offensive apparel, and homosexuals with their unsuitable greeting cards.

They’ve not only offended homosexuals but also angered some who are offended by homosexuality, including One Million Moms. A picture of two girls kissing on a catalog was seen by the group as “promoting lesbianism," according to its website onemillionmoms.com.

The Washington Post reported that Navajo Nation has sued the company for stealing patented designs.

So when will we put a stop to Urban Outfitter’s immaturity? We have to, because the company obviously won’t learn a lesson.

We must put a stop to corporate irresponsibility and this should start with Urban Outfitters. Their clothes are cheaply made and cost you a lot of money. If you wish to start boycotting Urban Outfitters, why not turn to a few of these clothing companies with the same urban style that don’t feel a need to offend:

Levi’s (www.levi.com), Shop Robertson (shoprobertson.com), Bad Joan (www.badjoan.com), ASOS (asos.com), All Saints (us.allsaints.com)

 

 

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