It started as an idea for my live show; something I'd like to wear onstage. I had just finished reading about the clash between Antifa Protesters and Neo-Nazis in Sacramento this June, and was thinking about the common goals of Antifa groups and more traditional organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Between Britain's 'Leave' Campaign and Donald Trump's Presidential bid, it's safe to say racists and White Nationalists around the world are being emboldened and given a voice like no other time in recent memory. What used to be said behind closed doors is now being said to millions via mass media. Worldwide, White Supremacist rallies are flourishing, as is violence aimed at immigrants, people of color and the LGBT community.
The 'MAKE RACISTS AFRAID AGAIN' hat was created to express solidarity with those opposing racism, homophobia, and fascism worldwide. Anywhere they rear their head, we will combat them. It's that simple. If we can't change their minds, we can at least drive them back into isolation so their targets can be free from harm and harassment. We can make them afraid again.
We made pre-orders for the hat available four days ago online, announcing that a portion of the proceeds would be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Remaining profits would be used to expand the line.
The reaction--both positive and negative--was overwhelming. Over the Fourth of July weekend, the image has been shared and liked over 6k times on social media, and hundreds of pre-orders are pouring in.
Sadly, so are the responses from White Supremacists.
When Twitter user @501BluesGirl tweeted the phrase, "Send (((Them))) Home Now", they were using what are known as (((Echoes))), an Anti-Semitic online dogwhistle being used to identify and target Jews for harassment. Thanks to 501BluesGirl's tweet in my mentions, I learned how this code is being used to alert and employ an army of White Supremacist trolls. I recommend checking out Emma Cueto's excellent explanation of (((Echoes))) and how you can help fight against them, coincidentally.
Far from being intimidated, I'm pleased to report that this humble piece of merchandise has already far exceeded my goals for it.
It has energized and informed me as an anti-racist activist and provided a rallying point for like-minded souls.
It has alerted white supremacists and bigots that we're prepared to stand unflinching in their path.
It has raised money for an organization doing critical work with litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy to advance equality.
It has completed my summer wardrobe.
Hate may be on the rise, but we won't go down without a fight.
Hats off to those still on the march toward Equality.