Gap’s Manifest Destiny T-shirt was removed from store shelves amid claims of racism towards Native Americans. Shoppers reportedly complained that the shirt’s slogan served to “normalize oppression” and attempted to justify American expansion into the west.
After the T-shirt went on sale as part of the Gap X GQ limited edition collection late last month, a Change.Org petition was started. The movement against the Manifest Destiny shirt allegedly accrued 5,000 signatures and the garment emblazoned with the historic reference was banned from sale, the Daily Mail reports.
Groups campaigning for the removal of the shirt which some considered racist were created on Facebook. Gap was bombarded with complaints about the sale of the shirt, which appeared to promote one of the primary ideals which helped found the United States.
A letter from an upset customer published by Indian Country Today had this to say about the Gap t-shirt:
“It is with great sadness that I notify you I will not be shopping at your store until you remove the Manifest Destiny t-shirts available at your stores. Manifest Destiny was the catch phrase which led to the genocide of millions of my people, millions of Indigenous people throughout this country. I am also inviting the more than 1700 people on my Facebook page to boycott your stores and inviting them to shop with their conscience.”
Another angry reader called the t-shirt slogan pompous and arrogant, while maintaining that thousands of Native people who were considered not to be “human beings” died during the America expansion era.
The t-shirt was designed by Mark McNairy. The designer tweeted “Manifest Destiny. Survival of the fittest,” during the height of the fashion statement controversy. The post has since been removed from his Twitter page. He noted in subsequent posts that he did not intend the phrase to be considered offensive and simply felt the words meant that through hard work, one can achieve their dreams.