Big Thief Apologize For “Offensive” T-Shirt
Today, the Brooklyn indie rock band Big Thief posted a long note on Instagram, addressing a long-sleeve T-shirt that the band had been selling. The shirt includes a number of cryptic images, and one of them, as the band points out, is “an illustration of cartoon purple arms and hands holding onto jail cell bars. We feel that this is reckless, offensive imagery.”
The band goes on to elaborate:
The jail cell was meant to be a metaphor symbolizing imprisonment of the mind and spirit because of constructs, etc… The arms were intended to be purple so as to avoid realism and race all together but we feel that that thinking was misdirected. We believe that something as pervasive, horrific and insidious as incarceration can not lightly be approached and most especially in avoidance of the issue of race, as the entire incarceration system is fueled by racism. The lack of attention we paid to this symbolism is, to us, is a reason to bring it up. Letting this image get printed on a shirt is just another example of a symptom of being conditioned in a culture of normalized white supremacy and we apologize to anyone who may have felt hurt or uncomfortable with this image.
The band also notes that the shirt itself is part of a larger conversation about the effects of white privilege, and they make a pledge: “Going forward we will be allocating a portion of the money we make from all of our masters and publishing into causes that we feel will help to start to address these injustices, starting with initially giving to the Equal Justice Initiative.” They also say that they’ll donate some of the money they make from touring to groups that address “environmental justice and the climate emergency.” You can read their full note below.