Posted on February 6, 2020

New York City Shakes Down Prada

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, February 6, 2020

New York City and racial activists successfully forced fashion company Prada to cough up money and submit to diversity training after a “racist” scandal.

The controversy started when Prada put monkey-shaped keychains that might be seen as blackface caricatures in the window of its SoHo store. Civil rights lawyer Chinyere Ezie spotted them in December 2018 and complained about them in a Facebook post. The New York City Commission on Human Rights issued a “cease-and-desist” order against Prada. It then arranged the “settlement.”

The Washington Post reported that it “sets a new standard for how local and state governments might step in to hold businesses accountable.”

In a press release hailing the “landmark settlement,” the New York City Commission on Human Rights said that Prada would:

  • Ensure that NYC employees and Milan executives get racial equity training
  • Set up scholarships for people historically underrepresented in fashion
  • Within 90 days, send to the Commission CVs of candidates for a senior, director level diversity and inclusion officer
  • Maintain Prada’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, launched by Prada in February of 2019, with a minimum of 3-5 members for a period of at least 6 years, with regular reporting by Prada on the council’s progress
  • Consult with Dr. Joyce Brown, president of the Fashion Institute of Technology, who sits on the Diversity and Inclusion Council

Prada’s entire New York City workforce will also “undergo New York City Human Rights Law training by a licensed attorney with substantial knowledge of anti-discrimination training.” Lest someone worry the company was being extorted, the release added that “Prada worked willingly and collaboratively with the Commission.”

The Commission further said that these policies were not punishment, but a first-of-its-kind example of “restorative justice,” a practice learned from “indigenous communities” that emphasizes reconciliation rather than punishment. I’m not sure I see the difference.

The products were tacky. Who would buy something like, especially for the list price of $550? It’s easy to see why blacks were offended.

However, it’s chilling that a local government could order the company to stop selling the product, make it give money to non-whites, and force its employees to take diversity training. This is Tammany Hall patronage in a new form. And there’s little evidence to suggest diversity training even does what it’s supposed to.

The Commission’s reassurance that Prada “willingly” went along with sounds Orwellian, and there are terrible implications for the entire industry. “The measures Prada has committed to have far-reaching implications for the fashion industry as a whole,” said deputy commissioner Sapna Raj. There have long been complaints that fashion companies don’t have enough non-white models and that they’re guilty of “cultural appropriation.” Presumably, the Commission could impose “restorative justice” for this sort of thing.

If Prada had been willing to fight, it probably would have won on free speech grounds. There’s no law against selling offensive imagery, and the Supreme Court has ruled against “prior restraint,” or prohibiting speech before it takes place. However, such a campaign might have been embarrassing, so the company probably decided to submit. So far, it won’t comment.

This flap is really about double standards. Media promote advertisements and programs that mock whites. They run ads and promote shows that I find offensive. Broadway’s biggest hit, Hamilton, is a classic example of cultural appropriation and a deliberate attack on our Founding Fathers.

I don’t want companies to have to pay me if I’m offended, but if blacks or Hispanics or others claim they are offended, companies must pay “civil rights groups” to make the problem go away. However, the more non-whites claim to be offended, the more money companies splash out, and we get an endless cycle of competitive victimhood.

The Prada keychains were ugly, but local government involvement was uglier. We can’t afford to just laugh at this sort of thing. The Constitution won’t save us; in the words of John C. Calhoun, “Power can only be resisted by power.” We need power of our own.