By Maya Nichols
A shirt is a powerful thing. We wear it with us all day projecting messages to not only friends but strangers as well. With a shirt you can’t hide behind a screen. You are right there and you have to be accountable to whatever you are putting out. Colors, patterns, words, all representing your preferences, favorites, personality, or just what makes you happy. Now I’m not talking about your wardrobe. Your wardrobe is mainly for your eyes and nobody has to see that sweater you wished you hadn’t gotten. But the clothes you actually wear, those are the ones that can make a difference.
A few months ago my aunt got me a Black Lives Matter shirt. I wore the shirt to a march and then to an event at school honoring black students, but wearing the shirt casually was harder. Being white, I wondered how appropriate it was for me to wear the shirt. As I said before, a shirt can convey a lot of meaning and I did not know how people would react. It took me a month before I could wear it comfortably and I was really surprised at how positive the feedback was every time. When I wore it to my summer camp, I had many people, black and white, coming up to me and thanking me for wearing the shirt. It made me feel good that such a seemingly small action could have such a big impact.
Later, while talking with my family and a few friends about the recent shootings of both young black men and police, I shared my experience with them. This sparked the idea of our campaign. A bumper sticker is stuck on a car, a lawn sign planted in a yard, but a t-shirt is worn by a living, thinking and talking human being who can engage in conversation with other human beings. Just by wearing a shirt, you can let people know that they have an ally looking out for them. If someone sees you wearing the shirt, it may inspire them to find their own voice in fighting for racial justice.