Representatives of Black Lives Matter – Toronto are condemning a Black Friday sale promotion by a Yorkville boutique clothing store for using phrases that appeared to reference the organization’s movement.
“All Sales Can’t Matter Until Black Friday Sales Matter,” read an email promotion from The Serpentine that was posted online and sent to Global News by a viewer.
“MOBILIZE LOCALLY, SUPPORT GLOBALLY, 20-40% IN STORE ONLY, FRIDAY NOV 25TH TO SUNDAY NOV 27TH.”
The promotion has a black and white picture of people chanting with the hashtag #BLACKFRIDAYSMATTER written in red. Near the bottom of the ad, it said, “This message is brought to you and approved by Black Stephen.” The store’s address and links to its website and Instagram accounts are also included.
Hashim Yussuf, a Black Lives Matter – Toronto steering committee member, said it was “very disappointing” to see the Black Lives Matter movement used “as a joke.”
“This is not a joking matter. Our movement is not something to be made fun of. This is a matter of life and death for many people. This is a matter of basic human rights,” he said.
“They were using our struggle and our movement to sell clothes on Black Friday. It’s just very, very disgusting. It’s very sad to see.”
Yussuf said he wants the materials taken down and hopes no similar campaigns happen again in the future.
Screenshots of the picture and the #BLACKFRIDAYSMATTER hashtag on The Serpentine’s Instagram account were also shared on social media. However, as of Wednesday afternoon, the posts were not on the account. Instead a statement posted on Wednesday said The Serpentine wanted to “apologize for the confusion and frustration people are feeling” in response to the Black Friday sale ad.
“The post was was (sic) purely intended to reference the droves of people that shop for deals this coming Friday,” the statement read.
“The post was a play on words not meant to disrespect anyone or any group. We have customers of all races, religions, and orientations. Serpentine is a multicultural boutique from its staff, all the way down to its brands from around the globe.”
When asked about The Serpentine’s statement, Yussef said it doesn’t go far enough to address what happened.
“That is just anti-blackness manifesting itself at its core. For them to say that we have customers and staff of all different diverse ranges and we’re trying to be multi-cultural and things like that. No, you can’t – that doesn’t usurp what they’ve already said in the beginning,” he said.
Global News called and emailed the store asking for an interview with the owners, but no one was available for comment as of Wednesday afternoon.