The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words can be summed up in three: “Blue Lives Murder.”
That was the phrase seen on the bold statement on the T-shirt of a 24-year-old mother and activist Nyja Richardson as she attended Brooklyn’s Afropunk, the music and fashion festival that celebrates the black American punk scene in locations around the world.
Richardson strategically situated herself in front of four police officers, who unwittingly stood in the background, before snapping the photo and posting it on her Instagram page.
“The last thing I want my son to be is another hashtag, so if that means I have to wear this shirt to create the conversation or go to community civil meetings, I will do whatever is necessary,” Richardson, who has a 3-year-old boy as well as her own vegan T-shirt line, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I just fear that the color of his skin would trump his character, [and] to the world he would just be viewed as a violent black male.”
Richardson wore the shirt in the wake of numerous attacks by police officers on unarmed people of color, and in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. She adds that she wanted to “stimulate conversation because we are in a society who has taken liberties against a community without accountability. To me this is quite visceral. Tensions are high in America at this time and a conversation needs to be had.”
The “Blue Lives Murder” T-shirt retails for $30 and is made by lifestyle label America Hates Us, which seeks “to communicate social and political messages with the marginalized in mind,” co-founder and designer Tareq G. Brown tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Many of our pieces tend to make others feel uncomfortable and though that isn’t our purpose, we’re certainly not going to tone down our messages.”
As for Richardson’s shirt, he says, “I’d like the ‘Blue Lives Murder’ tee to spark discussion. Instead of trying to combat the shirt or argue ‘not all cops,’ perhaps try to understand why a community would identify with this statement. Reach out to those communities; speak to family members that have lost someone to police violence.”
Richardson’s Instagram post has sparked more than 8,000 likes, plus both positive and negative reactions. One user wrote, “I think its sad that shirts like that have to be made in order to draw attention to what’s happening. I don’t agree with the shirt but I understand the motive. Not all cops murder blacks. There are cops who protect us.”
To this type of critic, Richardson says, “To clarify, the shirt does not state all Blue Lives Murder, but in my opinion, one blue life murdering is one too many.“
Political-statement tees are hot in the fashion world, appearing everywhere from high-fashion catwalks to festivals like Afropunk, which Richardson calls a “safe place for African-Americans to express themselves.”
Read More from Yahoo Lifestyle:
• ‘He’s gonna remember this day for the rest of his life.’: Black Lives Matter activists protest wedding of officer who allegedly shot Stephon Clark
• Anne Hathaway calls out white privilege in passionate post about ‘unspeakable’ murder of Nia Wilson
• ‘I am not ready to give up this country without a fight.’: Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza on the future of America