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343 Industries head apologises for “offensive” Halo Juneteenth palette

Halo Infinite’s latest character cosmetic, released to commemorate Juneteenth, has sparked outrage, leading to an apology from the head of 343

The legendary Master Chief in Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite’s latest character cosmetic, released to commemorate Juneteenth, has caused outrage among fans and players, and led to the founder of 343 Industries issuing an apology.

Juneteenth is an American federal holiday taking place each year on June 19th. It specifically recognises the date of June 19th, 1865, when the Union Army granted freedom to slaves in Texas, but since the 1990s has become a more widespread and encompassing celebration of Emancipation and Black culture.

Halo Infinite’s new character palette, designed after the red and green colours associated with the Juneteenth holiday, was originally released with the name “Bonobo”, after the great ape native to the Democratic Republic of Congo. It sparked outrage from fans and professional Halo players, who quickly noticed the palette’s connotations.

“Disappointed isn’t even the word to use here,” says Bradley Laws – a player for the Halo esports team OpTic – on his personal Twitter. “To have blatant racism on an important holiday is just spitting in black people’s faces. The fact this went through and made it this far is appalling.”

“Absolutely unacceptable stuff,” adds KingJay, a Twitch streamer, and Halo Infinite player for the Built by Gamers esports team.

In response, 343 Industries’ founder and head Bonnie Ross has issued an official apology.

“We were made aware of a palette option for our Juneteenth emblem that contained a term that was offensive and hurtful,” says Ross. “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.”

The original cosmetic has since been updated and renamed to “Freedom”.