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Juneteenth is an important holiday for many folks residing in the US, albeit one that is perhaps not as widely known about in other parts of the world. Taking place on 19 June every year, Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It’s also referred to as Freedom Day or Black Independence Day.
Unfortunately, Juneteenth isn’t an occasion that we’ve really seen widely celebrated in the video game sphere. This year, Halo Infinite developers 343 Industries attempted to change that but ended up making an “offensive and hurtful” error.
In case you missed it, Halo has officially crossed over with Microsoft Flight Simulator. Check out the Pelican in action below.
To mark this year’s Juneteenth, Halo Infinite added a new nameplate seemingly inspired by the black, red, and green stripes of the Pan-African flag. The item was named ‘Bonobo.’ If you didn’t know, a bonobo is an endangered species of ape - and I’m sure you can see the blatantly racist error here.
Halo fans were quick to spot the offensive error. Fan page HaloHubGG tweeted, “The nameplate added to Halo Infinite for Juneteenth is named ‘Bonobo’ which is a type of great ape. This needs to be removed and an apology needs to be issued immediately.”
Shortly after the aforementioned tweet garnered attention, 343 Industries updated the name of the item to ‘Freedom’ and later to ‘Juneteenth.’ Head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross wrote, “We were made aware of a palette option for our Juneteenth emblem that contained a term that was offensive and hurtful. The team immediately addressed this issue via an update. We are a studio and franchise that is committed to inclusivity where everyone is welcome and supported to be their true self. On behalf of 343, I apologise for making a celebrated moment a hurtful moment. “
We were made aware of a palette option for our Juneteenth emblem that contained a term that was offensive and hurtful. The team immediately addressed this issue via an update. (1/2)— Bonnie Ross (@PlutonForEver) June 15, 2022
Community manager John Junyszek explained the reason behind the blunder adding, “We strive to create diverse and inclusive gaming communities. While the original name refers to an internal toolset, it was not intended to be applied to this content and we recognise the harm it may have caused.”
Head of creative Joseph Staten joined in commenting, “I’m sorry as well. Our mistake today was inexcusable, and I’m ashamed we allowed it to happen.” 343 Industries were quick to rectify the problem, as mentioned, but how this one slipped through the cracks is worrying.
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