My obsession with graphic t-shirts in adulthood was sparked by J.Crew and Hugo Guinness’ collaboration. A white linen t-shirt, with a repeated illustration of “human being” in black drew my attention during one of my many visits to J.Crew four years ago. Since then I continued to collect graphic t-shirts with whimsical phrases and famous landmarks. However, the “human being” t-shirt has remained my favorite because every time I wore it, I felt like a rebel, carrying out a tiny act of resistance. There are times when I’m reminded by society that given the color of my skin and my gender, I should expect a certain kind of treatment. When I wear my “human being” t-shirt I retell myself and everyone else that I am a human being, just as they are. This was all before the man who I choose not to name ran for office and showed the rest of America the America that people who look like me see every day.
Unfortunately, his election has emboldened bigots to attack individuals who they view as less human due to their religion, gender, ethnicity or nationality. Those who believe that your entitlement to all the rights of a human should be dependent on the aforementioned circumstances are making a stand, but so are those who hope to fulfill America’s promise of equality for all. The resistance is strong and has trickled its way into every vein of our society. So much so that statement t-shirts reiterating one’s stance on a social issue have become a fashion statement. I had been content with my “human being” shirt’s ability to serve that purpose until I saw Everlane’s “100% human” t-shirts. That phrase not only reinforces my status as a human but also emphasizes that my humanity is not degraded by any factors. A reminder that a significant portion of the world’s population needs today.