NEW YORK (RNN/CNN/NY1) - Haute couture fashion house Prada is taking heat for a store display and figurines on sale that evoked the racist blackface imagery of “Little Black Sambo” or a minstrel show.
Prada pulled the “Pradamalia” products on Friday after a Facebook post showing the monkey-like figures with dark faces and big red lips went viral.
Chinyere Ezie, a New York City civil rights lawyer, saw the display and the figurines and posted about them on Thursday.
“Blackface is alive and well in 2018 thanks to Prada,” she wrote on Twitter.
She said she was “shaking with anger” when she saw them in her Facebook post.
“Today after returning to NYC after a very emotional visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, including an exhibit on blackface, I walked past Prada’s Soho storefront only to be confronted with the very same racist and denigrating blackface imagery,” Ezie wrote.
She said a Prada store employee admitted to her that “a black employee had previously complained about blackface at Prada, but he didn’t work there anymore.”
Ezie added that, “History cannot continue to repeat itself. Black America deserves better. And we demand better.”
The Facebook post was shared more than 9,000 times, and her tweets were retweeted roughly 2,000 times.
Prada issued a statement saying the company “never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery.”
The fashion house contended the items were “fantasy charms” depicting “imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface.”
“Pradamalia” launched last month and features seven different characters on a variety of items like jewelry, cellphone cases, and leather goods.
“We will withdraw the characters in question from display and circulation,” the company said.