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June 04, 2015

White Boy Action Wear? Hey, Beavis. Isn't that like, uh, raciest?


Twenty years ago I started a company called Black Dog to sell tees, sweatshirts, jackets and the like under the name of "White Boy Action Wear". The WBAW logo and "White Boy" (see T-shirt image above) would have appeared on every product.

We shelved the company and the clothing line when we realized something while selling a few items initially to obtain trade and service marks: very few people outside of the largest U.S. cities and some fun (but insular) snowboarding, skateboarding and extreme sports communities (a) "got it"--the name, that is--and (b) felt comfortable with it and the "concept", such as it is. Lots of people said they felt uncomfortable with White Boy Action Wear--the words, the concept, the tee shirt--and in ways they could not always explain to us. Me? I think it's funny (read: hysterical) and always have.

But I'm not everyone. Color me lucky. I've had a fine education. I've travelled. Met people. I even went to debutante balls, including the Bicentennial one at the Idle Hour Country Club in Lexington, Kentucky. I met Phil Donahue once, and he let me park his car. Met a creature named Maeve in Mainz and one called Miss Lucy on Île Saint-Louis. I'm semi-literate but have high standards, hopefully. I already know, for example, that "Flaubert" does not refer to a way to prepare food.

In short, and seriously, I do get, like and prize (a) irony and (2) satire, and usually no matter how edgy. You get the idea.

Help me out:

1. Does, for example, the T-shirt product above offend you?

2. Would you buy it?

3. Would you keep or wear it if it were a present?

4. Would you let your kids wear it?

5. Would you wear it at your country club? An Irish bar?

6. Would you wear it into the "Soul Lounge" in Madisonville, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb of mainly black (or Afro-American) residents? Or at a mainly white working class bar in nearby the suburb of Norwood?

7. Even if you have no problems with it, and think it's wonderful and funny, what problems do you see other people having with it?

8. Have things (and sensibilities) changed or loosened up enough for people to understand the mild fun and satire connected the "White Boy Action Wear" idea and the goofy White Boy who would appear on every product?

Posted by JD Hull at June 4, 2015 01:38 PM


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