Racism in my backyard?


March 29, 2012 by Benji

Often we hear about racism and we think who thinks like that? No one i know of.  I am a fan of a T-shirt company called Down With Detroit (I still have not figured out if that is a play on words from the Phish song Down with Disease, it has the same acronym, DWD). Anyhow, these guys make great t-shirts. Most are sports related, Detroit love, funny, Michigan State and occasionally they have a little friendly hate for Ohio State fans (but who doesn’t 🙂

Two nights ago they posted a picture of this shirt

It says Dearborn in Arabic. Immediately DWD started getting flack, no let’s rephrase that, ugly racist posts by ignorant people who don’t like Arabs. Things like “I hope that it means “being born from a deer” in Arabic” to “Bad idea we live in the U.S. English is the primary language and has me ready to “unfriend” this page and no longer purchase any of your products.”; to “booo that….booooooo it into submission”  or  “It should say, “the problem” directly underneath it. Then I’d buy it.” it goes on and on…one woman complained about how she hates Dearborn because she can’t read the signs when she is driving through. The racial and anti Arab comments are pretty brutal.

In defense of the DWD fans in general, for every negative post, there are about a dozen people supporting the shirt or at least the right to print and wear the shirt.

So here is the deal! America was born on Immigration. We are a melting pot! Detroit specifically has strong Polish, Mexican, Arab, Greek, Jewish and Irish demographics. DWD has made shirts about almost all of those! With little to no complaints by the fans, dare I call that a double standard? The idea that anything in Arabic is bad, is as anti-American as the Taliban!

I am a Jew, born in Israel, living in West Bloomfield; I enjoy the religious freedoms that this great country of ours affords us. I would hope this mob of knuckleheads wouldn’t be upset if DWD made a shirt in Hebrew. They sure don’t mind it when the shirts are Irish, Polish or any other ethnicity in English.

I’m going to be wearing this T-shirt PROUDLY this summer, as I walk around the streets of Metro Detroit.  There are a few reasons to do this: #1 I can 2# show support to DWD #3 solidarity with my fellow Michiganders living in Dearborn who may feel slighted.

This is one of those awkward moments where I remember that while I wave the tolerance flag and tell people that they need to accept those that are not like them, those who are intolerant have the right to feel that way, and to voice their opinions (thank you America). It still leaves a yucky feeling in my stomach to know that this is happening in my backyard. As Detroiter’s we spend a lot of time talking about what an awesome region we are, this is not what we are about.

By the way – for those of you who unfriended DWD, this little situation is going to bring a lot of attention their way, which will translate into a lot of t-shirts sold/ dollars in their pockets. Guess who wins that game!

One thought on “Racism in my backyard?

  1. HB says:

    Very interesting post Benji. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors and they were of the same philosophy. Despite having lived through the worst imaginable form of racism they came out of it still feeling everyone deserved to be treated with respect unless their individual actions deserved otherwise. I honestly don’t know if I could have been that way after what they endured. Of course they had their fears and strong feelings about what certain people (I actually hesitate to call them people) did during the war but they still found the ability to love and accept. There is good and bad in every race/culture and yes I will even be honest enough to admit it I sometimes think some cultures have fringe elements that promote the bad more than others but like my grandparents who set an example I try to give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove to me I shouldn’t. Our country was built on diversity and I grew up in a city surrounded by it so maybe that make me more tolerant than some others but I will also admit I dont know if I would go as far as to wear that shirt :-).

    March 30 at 2:22pm · Like

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