by Lolla Mohammed Nur, @lomonur
(Note #1: I use the term “habesha” as shorthand in this article to describe the cultures and people of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is a contested term within the diaspora, and does not necessarily apply to all ethnic groups in those two countries. Here, I use it as a general term to refer to Ethiopians and Eritreans for the sake of brevity).
(Note #2: The dress was NOT been removed by Urban Outfitters from the website. I initially had assumed they removed it, but I later found out that the dress was actually mysteriously sold within days of the campaign launch. Urban Outfitters declined to tell me who bought it, vaguely citing “customer privacy laws.” Personally, I think it’s all fishy.)
For about a week now, Ethiopian and Eritrean diasporans have taken to social media to express their disbelief, shock and anger with Urban Outfitters, a company that has an established reputation for controversy and for cultural insensitivity.