On July 31, Frederick Joseph, a marketing consultant and the founder of WHSorg, tweeted about wearing a T-shirt that resembled a Washington Redskins shirt. But instead of the actual Redskins logo, this shirt featured a drawing of a white man and the word “Caucasians.”
The Redskins have long been a point of contention in the United States because their logo is a caricature of a Native American and because the name Redskins itself is a derogatory term for Native Americans. So, you know, pretty damn racist. There have been attempts to get the owner of the team to change the name and logo, but so far, no dice.
Joseph created a whole thread on Twitter, detailing the reactions he got to the shirt. He wrote that he expected to “catch some [people] by surprise,” but he himself was surprised by how “trash” people were about the shirt. The whole thing ended up being a really interesting social experiment.
He explained that the shirt demonstrates how people look wearing clothing that is “blatantly racially charged and disrespectful,” although, honestly, this shirt isn’t even disrespectful in any way. As he pointed out, it didn’t say “crackers” or “honkies” or anything like that, simply the word “Caucasians.” That’s nothing compared to how offensive the Redskins logo really is.
First, he encountered a man who called him an “asshole” for wearing the shirt.
Then he was stopped by an older white lady who claimed that the shirt was disrespectful. He asked her how she’d feel if he was wearing an actual Redskins shirt, and she answered that she’d be fine with that because that was the team’s official logo. Um. Okay. Cognitive dissonance, much?
He claimed that he got lots of dirty looks and snide comments from people he passed on the street and mentioned that he’s never seen white people have a problem with a person wearing real Redskins apparel.
At the end of the thread, he called out white people for their flagrant hypocrisy and privilege.
He included a link to purchase the shirt, in case any of his Twitter followers wanted one of their own.
But he also made a point of saying that he himself is a fairly big person and can protect himself. Given some people’s reaction to the shirt, a smaller person, less able to defend him or herself, might experience some real trouble if they chose to wear the same shirt.
Lastly, Joseph included some information about WHSorg, which he described as “a 501(c)(3) creative marketing agency committed to working on projects that create equity and impact the world.”
Joseph’s Twitter thread, like his wearing of the shirt itself, stirred up a lot of reactions.
Some people showed pictures of similar shirts they owned. A few were takes on the logo of the Cleveland Indians, which is another team with an offensive logo.
One person said the shirt reminded him of a poster with baseball hats featuring fake racist team names and logos, along with the real Cleveland Indians logo, which is just as offensive as the Redskins one. Sort of puts it into perspective, no?
But, of course, a bunch of people on Twitter called Joseph racist just for wearing a shirt with a white person on it, thus proving his original point without even meaning to.
It’s interesting (and sad, and frightening) to see the disconnect — when Native Americans say they feel offended by the shirt, people claim it’s not racist. But when the tables are turned (and again, not even with an actually racist shirt), those same people get all up in arms and claim to be offended themselves.