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Morrissey Attempted Selling Racially Tone-Deaf James Baldwin Tee

James Baldwin

Ahead of his North American tour, Morrissey attempted to honor literary icon and civil rights activist James Baldwin with a questionable piece of merchandise, which featured his face around The Smiths lyrics. The t-shirt was planned to be available for purchase at his shows, but has since been pulled for its culturally tone-deaf execution.

Related | Four Famous Writers Choose Their Favorite James Baldwin Books

"I wear black on the outside 'cause black is how I feel on the inside," the tee said, with The Smiths' "Unloveable" lyrics circling Baldwin's head and Morrissey's name written on the bottom corner. Though the original 1986 track alluded to Morrissey's dark emotions, using the color black as a metaphor, the context here suggests he can relate to the experience of a black man, such as Baldwin. As a white man, however, he can't. 

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Earlier this week, some of today's most influential black celebrities joined forces to help preserve Baldwin's legacy, from Samuel L. Jackson to Janelle Monáe and Chris Rock. Together, they created a PSA encouraging Americans to read his work and watch the Oscar-nominated doc, I Am Not Your Negro. Watch, below.

Tags: Popnography

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