Controversy has erupted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus after it emerged that several black and non-white students were wearing sweatshirts that displayed racially charged statements. One of the sweatshirts had a caption that read “All white people are racist,” while another shirt had a caption that seems to have been directed at inciting violence against cops. The second caption read, “If I encounter another cop with a God complex, I’m going to have to show the world that they are human.”
These sweatshirts were reportedly created by an individual identified as Eneale Pickett, who is a second-year elementary education major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Pickett has in an interview with a local news station confirmed that the intention of these racially charged sweatshirts was to make people uncomfortable.
“I made these sweatshirts initially to start a conversation, and now it’s to shift a conversation. because people have been talking about race, sexuality and gender, but now I’m doing it to make them uncomfortable. Because in this country, no one really wants to talk about these issues unless they’re truly uncomfortable.” Pickett told local news station WMTV News.
According to Pickett, after it was revealed that he was behind the shirts, he has received death threats from unknown individuals who were not too happy with him selling them. He has posted screenshots of conversations with unknown people who have threatened to kill him for selling the controversial sweatshirts.
Several people who do not agree with Pickett’s way of “starting a conversation” also posted replies on Facebook in which they explained why they disagreed with his way of painting all whites as racist. One of the comments of a Facebook post by Pickett read the following.
“I just don’t understand this. Everyone is giving everyone a bad name. There are whites supporting the BLM movement, and some who say ALM. I understand the movement, in an appropriate way. But by saying all white people are racist doesn’t make you any better than the people saying all blacks are criminals. All I see is segregation once again, that’s not how it should be.”
As a reply to the above comment, another person commented this.
“Negative. To be racist you need to be in a position of power… Which is currently held by the white community. Black people can be prejudiced towards white people, but it won’t affect them getting a job, car loan, etc etc like how racism affects the black community.”
At the same time, he says he has also received words of encouragement from others. A female commenter on one of Pickett’s posts wrote the following.
“The only white people who are offended are the ones who are ACTUALLY racist. How in the hell are you going to be mad at someone for being racist then attack them with racist comments?”
Meanwhile, Dane County Boys and Girls Clubs President Michael Johnson when asked about the sweatshirts commented that the messages on the sweatshirts are divisive and that Pickett’s statements are false and misguided. At the same time, he added that he understands the underlying issues that may have motivated Pickett to create the shirts.
“Even though the constitution says people can say what they want to say, utilizing hoodies and wearing shirts like this, it’s just not right.” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Pickett revealed that he has managed to sell more than 40 sweatshirts on Etsy. However, the website has on multiple occasions removed the listings – only to be relisted by him again. At the time of publishing this article, the controversial hoodies were not listed on Etsy.
What do you think about these sweatshirts with racially charged statements? Was it correct on the part of Pickett to sell these shirts? Or do you agree with his views as these hoodies being a conversation starter?
[Featured Image by Eneale Pickett/Facebook]