The Ikea 2021 catalog has been delayed to remove a suspect image that could potentially be deemed as racist and offensive.
Here’s the scoop via Quartz:
Imagine a full page showing an injured young black man wearing a leg cast and a finger splint, presumably from a skateboard accident based on the props on the left of the frame. He is shown looking down, appearing to need help assembling a coffee table. The page is essentially an ad for the IKEA-owned TaskRabbit furniture assembly service.
The model’s t-shirt is the locus of the controversy: An IKEA employee pointed out that the sequence of numbers across his back (45678) might be construed as serial numbers on a prison inmate’s uniform, thus fueling a negative stereotype of black youth.
Shout out to the Ikea employee who peeped the BS and rang the alarm.
In a statement to Quartz, Ikea said:
After reviewing the photo, we agree that it could lend itself to negative interpretation and reinforce negative stereotypes. As a purpose-led organization where diversity and inclusion are core values, IKEA strives to be a force for positive change in society. An important part of advocating for change is acknowledging and taking action when we get it wrong. We are committed to doing so in an open and transparent way.
The replacement image shows a Black man holding the instructions and looking at the parts spread out on the floor.
Ikea does not play to reprint all of their catalogs. They are simply going to tear out pages 133-134 from the perfect-bound books and keep it pushing.
They updated version of the catalog will be released in U.S. stores later this year.
The photo has been updated on the digital version of the catalog.