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Amazon Responds After Outrage Over A Shoe On Its Site Whose Description Featured The N-Word

DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon has had no shortage of controversy in recent months, from its employees’ working conditions to CEO Jeff Bezos’s billion-dollar profiteering off the pandemic.

But its most recent controversy centers on something far simpler but arguably even more shocking: A pair of shoes the listing for which uses the n-word in its description.

The shoes captured attention after a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Labour Party politician David Lammy, tweeted a screenshot of the shoes’ listing on Amazon’s site with a strongly worded message for the retailer:

@DavidLammy/Twitter

At first glance, the Amazon listing that Lammy included in his tweet seems like any other, until you come to the shoes’ color description: “Ni**er-Brown.”

@DavidLammy/Twitter

As Lammy’s tweet gained more and more attention, Amazon was of course forced to respond. They removed the listing from their site, and issued a statement.

“All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action including potential removal of their account. The product in question is no longer available.”

But Lammy was dissatisfied, especially since, as he pointed out, the listing had been up for nearly six months.

Indeed, this isn’t the first incidence of he n-word being used in online product descriptions.

According to reporting by The Independent, there have been a number of products made in China and sold in English-language markets, like the shoes Lammy saw, that have used the n-word as a color descriptor.

In 2007, a Canadian family noticed the word on a tag on a new sofa they bought. And in 2017, Walmart was forced to apologize after selling a Chinese-made wig cap that used the word in its description.

But many online agreed with Lammy and were outraged that Amazon failed to keep such an offensive term out of its listings.

As for the company that manufactured the shoes, they said the offensive description was due to a translation software error.

John Sundholm

Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, video producer and performer originally from Michigan, and is one of those people who says he "lived in London for a while" even though it was only six weeks for study abroad. He made Ellen DeGeneres laugh once so you should probably follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Medium, where he does a lot of yelling under the name @JohntheCraptist.