Painfully, I did not know what to say. Death tied my tongue and disabled one of my greatest strengths, words. I felt disgusted thinking about Michael Brown’s final plea for his life: “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.” I was instantly reminded of Emmett Till and his last words, “Bye, Baby,” which resulted in more sickness. What had other unarmed black men said before their untimely deaths? Thanks to Shirin Barghi for compiling a list that answered my grave question.
My best friend and I created the following design, American Conversation, as a response to our collective shock, pain and disbelief at the current and not so current events of young, unarmed black men being murdered. The shirt’s colors are red, white and blue (navy) to mimic the American flag. The words, written in white, are the last known words from eleven black men who died prematurely, each forming a part of a disturbing national narrative. On the sleeve, their ages are written in white, surrounded by their names, which are written in red. The last number, 22, is their average age and enveloped in red to symbolize their collective death.
You can pre-order this shirt, which costs $22 as a tribute to their age. Proceeds from this limited design will be donated to the Michael Brown Memorial Fund.