I grew up during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Black folks were beginning to reap the benefits of The Civil Rights Movement. Although racism persisted, immediate concerns regarding segregation, housing, employment, and voting were legally settled for the time being. As kids, all we really had to concern ourselves with was when the latest Earth, Wind and Fire album would be released, or if we could learn to swing nun-chucks like Bruce Lee.
As my friends and I got older, we were personally introduced to police corruption and bias (and in some cases brutality), limited employment options, and retailers that didn’t particularly like young black men shopping in their stores.
Fortunately, most of our small crew had family that took care of business: fathers who went to work every day and mothers who made sure we ate vegetables instead of McDonald’s. Everybody demanded we do our homework. We had good Black men and women in our lives, even though there was little evidence these people existed on TV or in the movies. The rest of America had no clue that loving black families were real until the Cosby Show hit the airwaves. (Or, until Obama was elected President.)
The reason for this quick history is to illustrate that the need for sufficient Black representation is an ongoing effort. As Black people, we have the same intentions and goals as everybody else: to contribute something meaningful, take care of our children, and live happy lives. When we are denied this opportunity or our concerns as a people are ignored, it makes life “a little more desperately complicated”.
Many of the ways this society has demeaned people of color has filled thousands of books. We will never be able to adequately address every issue on a t-shirt. But, the point of this t-shirt isn’t necessarily to inform. It’s meant to acknowledge. We believe it’s far more important to recognize and showcase important issues, rather than attempt to explain ourselves, especially to those who have no interest or investment. That (in our opinion) is the true value of t-shirts: they are for the benefit of the person wearing the shirt, not necessarily for those who see it.
We originally came up with the idea of Black HIStory in 1999. We found an artist that could bring our concept to life and had t-shirts printed in 2000. We wanted to create something with a symbolic, chronological history and a clearly recognizable expression that is the direct result of that history. All black history is personal, but we wanted to take things a step further.
“It’s hard enough to be a human being under any circumstances, but when there is an entire civilization determined to stop you from being one, things get a little more desperately complicated.” – Leroi Jones, 1966
We’ve been fortunate to find new artists to create brand new t-shirt designs for 2018 and beyond. We started to look over some of our older designs are saw that they were as relevant today as they were back then. Maybe more so. We found an artist who could do this particular design justice. So we brought it back.
We hope you appreciate our efforts, as we intend to bring many of our previous designs back in similar fashion.
Click Here to see our latest revision.