The new Kind Cotton tee is here and it has an significant message created by YOU!!! Our second kindness definition that we felt strongly about was:
"Kindness is standing up for what’s right"
which we shortened to Kindness is Justice. We chose to release this tee on World Day of Social Justice, Thursday February 20th, because we recognize the importance of fighting for what’s right; justice being one.
Watch many Netflix documentaries, turn on the news, or pick up a book and it is blatantly obvious the magnitude of racism in this country. However, there is far more work to be done than simply watching When They See Us or reading the latest Huffington Post article your friend recently shared on social media. In developing Kind Cotton, as mentioned many times before, we wanted to make sure our customers understood why we were so passionate about recognizing our own privilege, learning from that privilege, and attempting to be a company that strives toward continuing education to become better allies. You see, when we first began educating ourselves we believed there to be two very clear lines as I’m sure many of you do; either you are blatantly racist or you’re one of the others. You know, the good white person who would never in a million years use the hate speech that your Uncle Jim does at Christmas dinner. Turns out, you don’t need to continually work toward being not racist, but rather becoming an anti-racist. For example, do you tell your uncle the inappropriateness of these remarks, or simply let it go because it’s just Jim being Jim? Did you know there is no such thing as reverse racism? Do you use the color of one’s skin when referring to them if the story involves a Black man, but never mention skin tone if the person is white? Do you believe that you are colorblind? I was this person too and just because I’ve educated myself, does not indicate that the work is done, and it certainly doesn’t mean I deserve praise from anyone for doing so. To create a more kind, more just society we all have a lot of continuing work to do. In order to get my point across in the most basic of ways, let me fill you in a little about my teenage years.
I’ve written a lot about my adolescence; though, it wasn’t until the past two years of truly diving deeper into my own privilege that I’ve discovered the breaks handed to me due to the color of my skin. I am a clear representation of someone who could make the argument that I didn’t come from money. That I was the first in my family to graduate college, that my mom dropped out of high school, and that any life I have right now was due to persistent hard work. But, I am here to tell you this is not the case. I’m not diminishing my determination by any means, I’m simply here to explain my experiences and tell you that if I were a Black girl growing up, making the same choices I made; my persistence may not have mattered at all.
Rewind 16 years. On a random Friday trip to White Plains to visit my boyfriend at the time, my friend had just smoked prior to getting in the car. I didn’t think anything of it because it wasn’t rare for any of my guy friends to smell like a skunk wrapped in Cool Water cologne during this time period. After driving for about 30 minutes, I was pulled over for speeding and the police officer mentioned smelling something strange. Here are the events that followed:
- He asked for my license and registration.
- He asked where I was going.
- He let me go with a warning.
That was it! Nothing further, my friends. No search, no get out of the car, NOTHING. This was one of the countless times I was pulled over throughout those years (for speeding) and trust me every time was warranted. In fact, my driving record was a joke amongst my friends. My parents never had to fear me losing my life due to getting pulled over. In fact, they were relieved in hopes I would finally slow down. I can’t begin to tell you the countless breaks my friends and I received over the years and looking back I know why. It has been shown over and over again that African Americans and whites use illicit drugs at a similar rate, however the imprisonment rate for African Americans for drug charges is 6 times that of whites. This is not justice and, if you are one who believes in creating a kinder world, you can’t turn a blind eye to the way in which the world works.
I want to challenge you today. Think about the following things and reflect.
- Do you get followed in stores when shopping (and I’m not talking once or twice)?
- Do you have to fear your life when being pulled over?
- Do you get depicted as angry and bossy when simply speaking your mind?
On the flip side, now contemplate this...
- Growing up did you learn about many successful white people in history?
- Did your teachers read books with characters that looked like you?
- When you turn on the TV or go to the movies are the leading roles predominantly people who are the same skin color as you?
If you are reading this and are white I’m going to guess the answers to my first set of questions were no and the second set were yes. This, in and of itself is problematic. Children need to feel safe in the presence of authority. Children need to grow up learning about African American leaders and heritage, not simply the whitewashed version that’s been passed down for generations. All children need to be exposed to books with BIPOC characters; in fact, I’d argue this is just as important for white children. Studies show that by the age of 3 children have racial identities and that white children prefer playmates that are also white, whereas Black and Latinx children have no preference. This is not justice. We must do better.
Racism is alive and well my friends and kindness without justice is not the answer. So in honor of our new release and World Day of Social Justice, the proceeds from any shirt purchased on Thursday February 20th will directly go to https://www.millionhoodies.net/
An organization that was founded after the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin. They’re mission is to end gun violence for all communities.
“Million Hoodies Movement for Justice is a human rights organization dedicated to ending gun violence and reimagining safety and justice for all communities. MHJ partners with leaders and advocates to advance state reform through advocacy, public education, coalition-building, and research. MHJ also brings together students, elected officials, and survivors of gun violence to advance policies that help communities most harmed by the criminal justice system. We promote strategies to stop the cycle of violence and build healthy communities.”