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Lululemon Apologizes After Executive Sparks Backlash By Promoting Racist 'Bat Fried Rice' T-Shirt

Lululemon Apologizes After Executive Sparks Backlash By Promoting Racist 'Bat Fried Rice' T-Shirt
John Greim / LightRocket / Getty Images

Racism and violence against Asian people has been rising during the global pandemic.

With the President and his followers insisting on calling the viral pathogen the "Chinese virus"—leading one prominent Trump fan to call for a war with the world's other major nuclear arsenal—those ignorant enough to act on the political rhetoric attack with sometimes deadly violence everyone they see as Chinese.

Even some major companies decide to exhibit anti-Asian racist messaging.

Clothing brand Lululemon art director Trevor Fleming and artist Jess Sluder shared a t-shirt design recently. The company and people involved were forced to make an apology after public backlash.

It probably has something to do with the fact the shirt is unbelievably racist and harmful.

The t-shirt design, titled "Bat Fried Rice" had the image of a Chinese takeout box with bat wings and the words "NO THANK YOU" written on it.

Sluder shared the t-shirt on his Instagram page in a now deleted post where he wrote,

"Where did [the pandemic] come from? Nothing is certain, but we know a bat was involved. Beginning today, my limited edition #quarantees are now available."
"Link in bio or DM for details... Thank you for your support and sense of humor! #humornothate #batfriedrice"

Sluder also tagged Fleming in the post, leading some to believe he was involved with the design.

The two were immediately called out for the racist t-shirt.

Lululemon received many comments for employing the two.

Reality show star, Dorothy Wang called out the post and shirt design for the racist message. She sent a private message to Sluder, advising him to not sell the shirt.

He blocked her.

Wang said in an interview with NextShark:

"I was completely shocked and disgusted that people took the time and energy to create such a hateful and racially charged shirt, and were proudly marketing it in hopes of profiting off of the current xenophobia against Chinese/ Asians..."

While some people supported the shirt, saying it was funny, many others were outraged at the blatant racism.

The comments spread like wildfire, with many upset but unsurprised. The shirt comes as reports of targeted attacks on Asian Americans have increased.

Since the shirt came out, Fleming has stated he did not help design it, though he did share a link to it and promote it.

"It is something I deeply regret, and my eyes have been opened to the profound ripple effect that this mistake has had."

He also apologized saying:

"I apologize to those that have been hurt by this ... I commit to standing up against racist or discriminatory behaviour and will work hard to ensure that my personal and professional contributions in the future are kind, inclusive and supportive."

Trevor Fleming is no longer with Lululemon.

The company itself also put out an apology.

"We want to apologize that an employee was affiliated with promoting an offensive t-shirt. We hold our values at our core and find the image and post inexcusable."

They also added that the shirt was not their product even though it was promoted by two of their employees.

However that detail will probably not change many people's minds as both artist and art director cited Lululemon in their social media profiles.

"The company you keep..."

This isn't the first time Lululemon has been involved in controversy.

The brand has a history of problematic people working for it. The founder, Chip Wilson, stepped down from running the business after he made comments fat shaming women.

Wilson also named the brand with three L's because:

"It's funny to watch [Asian people] say it."

More recently, the company has also been called out for discriminating against female employees and discouraging an open-door environment.

And for many, this history is not easily forgotten.

Jess Sluder has locked down his Instagram account and removed the shirt from sale on his shop.

How about we not make racist shirts while we try to get through this?