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Lululemon apologizes, fires art director for 'Bat Fried Rice' shirt

The athletic-wear company Lululemon has issued an apology after its art director shared a post of a "bat fried rice" shirt design that was criticized as being racist.

Trevor Fleming, global art director at Lululemon, shared a link on Sunday via Instagram to the shirt design first posted by California artist Jess Sluder, according to USA Today.

The shirt highlighted a Chinese takeout food box decorated with bat wings and "no thank you" written on the back. The shirt was titled "Bat Fried Rice" and was available to purchase for $60 before it was taken down.

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"At lululemon, our culture and values are core to who we are, and we take matters like this extremely seriously," Lululemon spokeswoman Erin Hankinson said in a statement to USA Today. "We apologize that an employee was affiliated with promoting an offensive t-shirt… The image and the post were inappropriate and inexcusable and we do not tolerate this behaviour."

The company emphasized that the shirt is not a product from Lululemon and cut ties with Fleming after the incident.

"We acted immediately, and the person involved is no longer an employee of lululemon," the statement added. 

The outrage from fans and users on social media comes as social media has struggled to counter coronavirus misinformation, including theories that the virus was caused by people consuming "bat soup," a common false narrative shared throughout the internet.

Other outrages about the shirt stem from more somber anecdotes, such as several reports throughout March, citing Asian Americans being attacked as the virus outbreak gripped the nation.

One user tweeted in regards to the shirt, "There have been 100+ daily attacks on Asian Americans since the start of #COVID19. To see people adding to the hurt & racism hurts my heart." 

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Lululemon responded to a customer on Instagram, saying, "We take matters such as this extremely seriously and have no tolerance for cultural insensitivity and discrimination."