Update, September 15, 2014, 5:28 p.m.:
Colorlines would like to acknowledge that we did not reach out to FCKH8.com before running the blog post “This is the T-Shirt Company Making Money Off of Ferguson.” We make the following clarifications in the post:
1. According to a FCH8.com statement, the kids were from Ferguson.
2. Our piece says, “Five dollars from each shirt will supposedly go to unidentified ‘charities working in communities to fight racism.’” After publication, we learned that the organizations FCKH8.com had designated as recipients were listed elsewhere on-line, including in a September 9, 2014 Shadow and Act story.
3.In our post we say “The company behind the video, FCKH8.com, has made a name for itself selling what it calls ‘LGBT Equality Gear’(which sort of covers some LGB themes, but sort of leaves the T part out)…” According to an September 13, 2014 visit to FKH8.com, there is a transgender-themed T-shirt on sale in the “LGBT Equality Gear” section of the website.
4. After publishing the post we later learned that the organization behind the campaign had designated our publisher, Race Forward, as a recipient of a portion of the proceeds from this campaign. Unfortunately, contrary to philanthropic best practices, Race Forward hadn’t been previously notified of the the donation and immediately issued a statement that it would not accept any funds from the effort. Race Forward stands by that decision and would not have accepted the designation had we been previously aware.
It is important for us to assure you that our readers can trust us to report and behave with integrity. For 16 years, Colorlines has been a news source where race matters, featuring award-winning investigative reporting and news analysis. The questions we raised about the relationship between commerce and community politics with regard to race are important and legitimate, and we will continue to explore them generally on our screens.
At Race Forward, the organization you have come to know over 30 years —formerly under the name of Applied Research Center — our mission remains clear: to build awareness, solutions and leadership for racial justice. We do that by addressing: the impact of individual acts of racial discrimination within a deeper analysis of systemic racial injustice; the racial impact of individual and institutional actions and outcomes, as well as the intentions behind them; and the consequences of unconscious racial bias. Race Forward will remain committed to using this approach in considering any organizational perspective, opinion
We remain committed to working towards a vibrant world in which people of all races create, share and enjoy resources and relationships equitably.
—Colorlines and Race Forward
So…. Our little New York office feels some kind of way about a new video making rounds today. Titled, “Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by #Ferguson Kids,” the video’s making lots of rounds on social media. Which will probably equal lots of money for the company behind it, called Synergy Media
The video features a group of unnamed black kids, purportedly from Ferguson, reciting parts of a script that’s clearly been written by adults. A script that will make you think race is solely a black and white issue, by the way. Even if the children are from Ferguson, it’s unclear if or how they’ve been compensated. [See above statement #1—Ed] Either way, the idea that these kids are from Ferguson is paraded for consumption.
Towards the end, a white adult and a black adult make nice and encourage viewers to buy a FCKH8.com T-shirt. Five dollars from each shirt will supposedly go to unidentified “charities working in communities to fight racism.” Which charities? Who knows! [See above statement #2 —Ed] What communities? Can’t tell you.
The video concludes with a dedication, “For Mike,” and a quiet scene from the Ferguson street on which Michael Brown was killed by officer Darren Wilson more than a month ago:
The company behind the video, FCKH8.com, has made a name for itself selling what it calls “LGBT Equality Gear” (which sort of covers some LGB themes, but sort of leaves the T part out). [See statement above #3 —Ed] It’s now trying to do the same with its “Anti-Racism Gear.” According to its website, FCKH8.com “recently became owned and managed by Synergy Media,” a corporate branding firm whose clients include Magnum bodybuilding vitamin supplements and pretty offensive “Buckeye Boob T’s” (the latter despite the fact that FCKH8.com says it’s anti-sexist).
There’s an entire economy around black death—and this ad campaign illustrates it all too well. Ironically, this economy’s profit margins depend on upholding the very racism this video claims to want to eliminate.
So there you have it, folks. Everything, it seems, can distilled, packaged, bought and sold—including racism.
Update, September 10, 2014, 4:55 p.m.: FCKH8.com issued a press release Tuesday indicating that Race Forward, which is Colorlines’ publisher, along with a few other organizations, would be receiving funds garnered through T-shirt sales. Race Forward has publicly responded.