The Story Behind the Shirt:
Years ago when our founder Mobolaji went to a bell hooks lecture he heard her say something he felt was and is profound. She said, "Everybody says, 'Black boys need discipline', but what about 'black boys need love'?" It was at that moment he realized he had never heard that phrase before - "black boys need love." It had never occurred to him at that time that love was necessary to enact change. Then he began teaching and saw the way Black boys were treated and spoken about.
He saw junior high campus police handcuffing and arresting tiny 12-year-old boys for fighting or being late to school - things that used to be handled by principals now were becoming part of a child's record - as if they should have one for just being children. He witnessed the school to prison pipeline first hand in South Los Angeles schools. It broke his heart enough that he had to open it to those "problem kids."
He chose to be their unicorn, their rarely seen loving male figure even in the face of disrespect and sometimes physical confrontation. And he saw them transform. When he remained calm and stood for who they really were not how they were trained to think of themselves they began to see and act differently.
If he had chosen the easy route like some teachers, like some police officers, like our institutions, he would never have known this truth. These kids knew right away when they tested someone if they cared or not. All they want is someone to care... someone to be a real adult figure worthy of respect.
It's because of this that he was inspired to create a line of t-shirts in their honor; a line that reminds us of what is needed most when dealing with anyone - especially Black boys who receive very little love from a society that emphasizes control and destruction of the Black body.
Now, out of this same commitment, Black Girls Need Love has also been created.