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This Week in Racism

Forever 21 Wants to Sell Hip-Hop T-Shirts to White Kids

Selling shirts with famous black faces on it to white people isn't about destroying or cruelly appropriating black culture, it's just about making money.
Dave Schilling
Κείμενο Dave Schilling
27.9.13

Welcome to a another edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking news stories on a scale of 1 to RACIST, with “1” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.

- Your troubled younger cousin's favorite fashion brand Forever 21 has yet again stepped in a huge, steaming pile of shit by releasing clothes deemed to be racially insensitive. Back when Navajo print was all the rage, the clothing chain released a whole line of products featuring the ubiquitous patterns, going so far as to sell panties they referred to as the "Navajo Hipster," which was a trademark violation (the tribe owns a bunch of trademarks relating to the word "Navajo") as well as being pretty gross.

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This month's controversy is about Forever 21's selling of N.W.A. T-shirts. The tweet that got people pissed off simply said, "New arrivals… straight outta Compton." It was quickly deleted, but not before the internet took up arms against the "white oppressor."

There isn't even a Forever 21 in Compton

— Trevor Chillips (@Joe_Schmuck) September 19, 2013

Yes, it's true. There isn't a Forever 21 in Compton, but there also isn't a Chipotle, which is far more troubling in my mind. Maybe I'm not the best person to take this line, but sometimes people find racism where there isn't any. Being white doesn't automatically disqualify you from liking hip-hop music. I don't find Miley Cyrus's ratchet persona racially insensitive (though some people at VICE disagree with me). It's a part of the modern world that we live in, where cultures that previously had little to do with each other are mingling and finding common ground. Classic hip-hop acts like N.W.A., Public Enemy, and 2Pac are important to the history of black culture, but they also belong to the world. When Ice Cube has a sitcom on TBS, it's a little late to be talking about N.W.A. as belonging to one particular race or subculture, no matter how revolutionary and racially charged their music was. Going after Forever 21 for marketing hip-hop culture to white people is like critizing me for having a giant tattoo of the entire cast of Fraiser on my back because I'm not a rich white person. Sorry y'all, but those tossed salad and scrambled eggs are calling again.

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Really, this isn't about race at all. It's about money. The owners of Forever 21 and the holders of the intellectual property rights for N.W.A. wanted to make a healthy profit off of a popular brand. That's first and only concern for anyone involved in this venture. Perhaps the concern of the public would be better directed toward the unsavory employment practices at Forever 21 and other fast fashion chains. 1

- A pair of school officials in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, were forced to resign after the local school board discovered text messages they two exchanged that were of a racist and sexist nature. Superintendent Richard Como and athletic director Jim Donato were prone to using the N-word and various other inflammatory terms in conversations with each other on school-issued phones. The texts were discovered when an employee of the school district was transferring data to a new phone. The Philadelphia Department of Education says that a third of the students in Coatesville are African-American. Note to old bigots: your cell phone records are easily accessable. Maybe you're better off sharing your cartoons of Hitler teabagging Barack Obama's mom via snail mail. RACIST

- As Woody Allen and/or Emily Dickenson famously said, "the heart wants what it wants." That's true even if that heart is dark and racist. A sex offender named Lawrence Leggett in Seattle, Washington, gave the police an excellent opportunity to arrest him when he posted in the Craigslist "Casual Encounters" section looking for underage white girls to have sex with. The post, titled "Racist needs to get laid," is no longer online, but allegedly said:

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"Can’t help it, I’m a racist. I don’t like asians or Hispanics and I especially don’t like blacks. I’d call myself a white supremacist if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t like those people either. I guess I just don’t like anybody. That said, I still want to get laid. [Interested in] free white woman of any sort … just so long as you’ve never had sex with any black guys. […] I realize I’m not very charming, so I can compensate for your time too. … I’m as real as Helter Skelter."

A police investigator posed as a 15-year-old cheerleader, and Leggett offered her money to have sex with him in a van. (How stereotypical can you get?) Let's never forget that bigots and assholes need love too. They just usually have to pay for it. RACIST

The Most Racist Tweets of the Week:

I don't have to accept non-whites, queers, bossy women, or effeminate clothing, or mens make up, or health guidelines, or equality bullshit.

— Mass #WR (@MassOfEngland) September 26, 2013

#WhyDoWhitePeople not have any appropriate racial slurs. It's not rewarding to call a racist a cracker. I sound stupid when I say that.

— B.Butler (@b_butla) September 4, 2013

I don't even wanna cuss these pakis. Being paki is enough of a punishment

— _rahmanali (@Abdirahmannnali) September 26, 2013

The Jews are presenting one mestizo politician after another as the hero of American in opposition to the Negro… http://t.co/OU73lPbXUV

— Julie Mitchell #WR (@ItsJulie1964) September 27, 2013

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There's nothing sexy about having skin as dark as crude oil. I'm speaking to you, niggers.

— Creepy White Guy (@evil_laurel) September 27, 2013

I hate this chink I don't want you to stare at me

— Tim (@tim__stanbridge) September 27, 2013

I hate being Franklin in GTA cops just be shooting at me cus im black. I hate white people

— CHARGERS 14-2 (@TrickingGawd) September 25, 2013

@dave_schilling

Last Week in Racism: Miss America Is Not White, and Everyone is Mad