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Your Own "Racism is stupid" Shirt?


A friend and former colleague at a K-8 school called me recently to let me know that she was wearing her “Racism is stupid” shirt, and someone asked where they could get one.


My colleague got hers from me after I wore one to school one day. I created the shirt for my TEDx Talk: Charting a Course Beyond Racism. I wore it to school occasionally to invite students, staff, and anyone else I might encounter to notice, raise an eyebrow, ask a question, and engage in considering a pretty straightforward bit of logic that is rarely (ever?) utilized in efforts to combat racism. That being, as is stated on the back of the “Racism is stupid” shirt: “There are no races, therefore there is no legitimate basis for racism.”


I’ve been approached with requests for a “Racism is stupid” shirt enough to bring me to the precipice of making them available for purchase but I never jumped into actually doing so. Part of the reason for that is just being busy. The other part is feeling kinda protective of people who might get one and wear one and find themselves maybe less than happily engaged with someone who reacts to the shirt in a less than civil or constructive way.


I made the shirt, after all, as a positive provocation. I don’t tend to use words like “stupid,” and I am well aware of the cognitive-emotional and, sadly, even political volatility of the simple logic of its message.


My friend who provided the recent nudge to make the shirt available is quite comfortable conversing with folks about its message, implications, and invitation to think and act correctively regarding race and racism. She is also a marvelous teacher, able to combine Socratic inquiry, supportive facilitation, respectful challenge, and factual framing in the face of cognitive dissonance, knee-jerk reactions, fear and anxiety, and plain old disputatiousness. Not everyone can do that.


OK, I guess that’s my attempt at a grandmotherly caution. If after all that, you’d like a shirt, well alright then, let’s do this.


I’m certainly not looking to make a profit here. My thought is that I’ll wait to see how many requests I get over some span of time (maybe between today and the end of November?), and then order the shirts requested at the cost it takes to make them (I used Custom Ink but I’m happy to try it a different way if anyone out there knows more about this kind of thing than I do - especially if you know of a source that will produce a high quality, affordable shirt), and then let folks know what the price is. Then I’ll fold packaging and shipping costs into the final price and send them along.


The shirt I had made was long-sleeved and all cotton. For simplicity's sake, I think I’d like to keep it that way for now. That means you’d be ordering the “all bodies”* shirt you see me wearing above in the size that’s best for you.


*I’m using “all bodies” here to avoid the problematic use of “unisex” and to avoid conflating a matter of the literal-corporeal shape of one’s body with identity (e.g., “all gender” or “gender neutral”). It’s OK if you’re not a fan of that choice. I just wanted to be as careful and thoughtful as I could - and be transparent about my choice. If I hear back from folks that I should maybe think differently about this conceptually and/or practically (in terms of how to order shirts that the person ordering would want to wear), I promise I’ll take the advice on board.


Please feel free to contact me with questions and/or to let me know that you’d like a shirt.


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