Hidden Black History

Each of our t-shirts are based on historical figures and events that display the important contributions that Black people have made in modern culture.  Read about these black histories below.

Ghost of Racism

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The Ghost of Racism is the ghost you never see but is always present.  While the common narrative is that racism does not exist among police and in politics, the actions which we have seen throughout our entire history implies the ghost of racism is ever-present.  This image purposely has faceless characters, because it is their actions—not their faces—which raise the questions of race-related injustices and motivations.

This t-shirt is meant to start a conversation that racism is a political construct.  Let us be clear – we are not implying that all police and politicians are racist.  We are implying that significant actions of these figures continue to support racial injustice.

The first step for change is acknowledging that the ghost of racism is still affecting our lives and our progress.  This shirt may be controversial due to its implications, and I hope to inspire tough conversations that promote understanding and ultimately a more just and accepting society.


We the People

As written in the constitution, “We the People” originally referred to white people only.  The constitution was written for property owners and only these privileged owners were given right to vote.

This image represents People of Color, who are the melting pot of the United States, protesting for equality.   It is still common that minorities are unfairly treated – People of Color cannot get fair consideration for a job, fair treatment by police, or even justice in the criminal justice system.  The torn constitution makes a statement that equality has yet to be achieved, despite the significant progress of social justice over the past 200 years.

My hope is to inspire conversations that our rights under the constitution are not being adequately met.  There is a continued struggle for People of Color to be seen as equal, and to be fully part of “We the People” in the constitution.  So long as we are viewed and treated as second class citizens, then People of Color will continue to be excluded from the meaning of “We the People.”

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Mt. Moor

Mt. Moor represents the founders of the modern, post-segregation America.   Through their actions,  these four men modernized and expanded the meaning of the constitution for Americans.  While a lot of the history and culture of America is source from African American history, these cultural icons are often understated.

  • Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) was one of the first thought leaders to promote pan-Africanism and connect African Americans with their African ancestry. Martin Luther King remembers Garvey as, “the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement… give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny…and make the Negro feel he was somebody.”
  • Medgar Evers (1925-1963) was a civil rights activist who was instrumental in achieving desegregation and expanding voting rights. Evers was assassinated on his front door – it took several trials and over 30 years to finally convict his murderer, in part due to all-white juries.  His death and fight for justice caused powerful civil right protests and he is often remembered by his legendary name, The Ghost of Mississippi.
  • Malcom X (1925-1965) uplifted the hearts and minds of civil rights activists by encouraging People of Color to identify themselves by their own culture, which is woven into American society. After being released from prison, he preached on what black could be, and instilled a sense of pride to a people and culture subjected to segregation, overt racism and social injustices.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), a black activist and civil rights leader, is most notable for his advancement in civil rights by using nonviolent civil disobedience. Like Thomas Jefferson gave us the Constitution, Dr. King led us to the voting rights act and inspired hope against social injustices and discrimination.   King is the first African American memorialized by a national holiday.

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People Take Your Place

The variety of colors in this image reflects the varieties of discriminatory experiences that People of Color are subjected to based on the color of their skin.  Throughout American history, skin color has often been the key factor in discrimination, societal judgment, and pervasive racism. Despite the differences in skin color, all of us People of Color experience racism and discrimination in our daily lives, and this image attempts to express the diversity of these experiences.

This t-shirt encourages People of Color to “Take Your Place” in the struggle against discrimination – this includes taking our place in school boards, town councils, parent-teacher associations, local and national government, and engage in active citizenship.  The more we represent ourselves in civil society and governance, the more progress we can make towards an equal, fair, and representative society.

People Take Your Place - image on voter suppression for people of color

Imhotep

Imhotep was a multi-genius: a priest, doctor, deity, mathematician, architect, philosopher, and astrologer.  As an advisor to the Egyptian King Zoser, he used temples as hospitals, which in fact were the first recorded hospitals.  The caduceus, which is associated with first aid and medical care, was created by Imhotep.

 

As an African, Imhotep made immense contributions to world history and the advancement of Egyptians, in particular in the field of medicine.  In this field, he had his own pharmacy, hospital, created medical devices (scissors, stethoscope, and scalpel), performed eye surgery, and identified over 200 different diseases.

As a mathematician, Imhotep pioneered advances in geometry, which he applied to the construction of the Step Pyramid in Egypt.  Imhotep’s achievements in geometry are often credited to the Greeks—some would even say “stolen” by the Greeks.  It is correct to say that the Greeks did not give birth to geometry, but rather, the Greeks made significant advances in this field as a result of Imhotep’s initial works.

I believe that Imhotep is a powerful example of one of Africa’s stolen legacies—a monumental individual whose achievements are too often credited to the wrong people, culture, and society.  By sharing the legacy of Imhotep with the world, I hope to inspire pride in our African ancestors, and honor his influence in our history.

The Crossing

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In December of 1775, on Christmas Eve, the Rhode Island volunteer militia was accompanying George Washington to Trenton, New Jersey.  Black militia had an important role in the Revolutionary War, and this picture shows how People of Color fought alongside white people.  In fact, People of Color were both slaves to the loyalists and spies for the patriots.

People of Color thought that they were fighting for their freedom.  However, when the revolutionary war ended, instead of freedom, slavery became a permanent institution of the United States.  The long-term consequences which followed have been devastating – slavery, discrimination, people defined as property, segregation, and denial of basic freedoms including the right to vote and the pursuit of happiness.

We commonly think of the revolutionary war as “The War of Independence,” but for People of Color, this victory was in fact a significant setback in their fight for freedom.  People of Color and whites fought alongside each other for the same dream; however, only the whites achieved this dream.  I hope this t-shirt starts conversations about the true history of racial discrimination, and the lessons we can learn from this dark time in African American history.

Eye of Knowledge

I made this t-shirt because Africa is the source of all knowledge.  Much of our knowledge—including the use of mathematics, science, medicine, and astronomy – is a result of African ingenuity.  In fact, much of Western civilization comes from the Egyptians, who are decedents of Africa.

The triangular shape represents the pyramids of Egypt, which is the source of knowledge.  The red, green, and black colors represent the African continent and its diversity.  The Eye of Knowledge symbolizes all of the formal teachings and curricula of learning from our African descendants.

I want people to develop an awareness of where all knowledge comes from, which we teach in schools today.  Scientific disciplines, including medicine, astronomy and mathematics, come from Africa and should be recognized as African ideas.

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James Armistead

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During the revolutionary war, there were many African Americans who were both slaves and spies.  For instance, many African Americans were in a position to listen to the British and pass British intelligence to George Washington himself, and the continental army.  James Armistead is one of the most famous double spies of the Revolutionary War, and he risked his life for the promise of freedom and for the country.

Double-spies played a critical role in the patriot’s success – including in the Battle of Bunker Hill, Concord, and Lexington.  They encamped with the Patriots, shared the same values, were fighters and minutemen, and sought to bring freedom to their country.  Traditional tellings of the revolutionary war tends to diminish the heavy influence of black double-spies and they are often remembered as unimportant. The vital information that these double-spies provided made a pivotal difference to the Patriot’s victory.