Racism is Not Boldly Controversial, It’s Just Racist.


“Improve your Spring Weekend experience tenfold with this tank top!”

“Be bold.”

Around 12:30PM today, March 14th 2014, Brown University students began publicizing a Spring Weekend tank top with a graphic of Former NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly with the caption “Gettin’ Frisky” using the taglines quoted above, referring to racial profiling policy Stop and Frisk and flippantly alluding to student protests last semester surrounding Kelly being invited to give a lecture on campus and the discourse that followed. We imagine that these students who are behind this tank top think they’re being controversial, perhaps even ironic and funny.

Students were protesting Ray Kelly’s invitation as an affront to the the bodily and emotional violence of racial profiling that affects students of color on campus, communities in Providence community, and across the United States. This tank top is not only disrespectful of concerns that students voiced last semester, but it serves as a forceful reminder that there are still members of the community who are unwilling to address seriously the realities of being brown at Brown.

Students choosing to wear these tank tops would literally remanifest Ray Kelly’s presence on campus, an explicit reminder of racialized trauma experienced by communities of color and a message to many students on campus that their beliefs are invalid and their safety is not a concern.

We believe that everyone deserves to feel safe and welcome at Spring Weekend, and urge our fellow Brown students to not buy these tank tops and “be bold” in expressing that this tank top is distasteful, racist, and unacceptable.

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