A Black New Jersey student turned-rising and innovative designer is making a name with conscious clothing.
Olatiwa Karade, only 19 years old, has declared war against racism and White supremacy with protest threads bearing such bold messages as “F**k your racist grandma” and “Pro-Black, Anti-Bulls**t.” Other slogans, like “Africa is not a country” and “Don’t touch me, don’t touch my hair, don’t touch my culture,” are all over Instagram. Her politically-provoking clothes allow young Black and brown people to make more than fashion statements.
But what inspired her activism? Karade, like many folks, was looking for an imaginative avenue to channel her anger over the 2016 election and “blatantly racist” voters. Many eligible members of the voting block went unchecked in their dog-whistle hate, Karade said to The Huffington Post.
“I was heavily supporting Bernie Sanders, and I think a lot of people weren’t talking about the other side of racism and hate we were seeing, a lot of which was coming from a lot of liberal people on the Bernie side,” Karade explained. “Whenever he would come out and talk about Sandra Bland, or talk about anyone who was a victim of police brutality, of racism, of prejudice, his following would really go on their ‘all lives matter’ tirade. I just felt extremely excluded and felt like I didn’t have a voice when it came to race relations.”
Karade, who designed her prom dress and has put together looks for Afropunk, woke up a lot of people with her first “Columbus was a murderer” shirt in October.
Her sweatshirts, used as tools for education, were sold out by Thanksgiving. To date, she has sold more than 500 shirts and is fielding thousands of made-to-order requests, she told Wear Your Voice. Her messages that challenge the mainstream are resonating.
“Art aids political protest by being a vessel in which you can get your message to the people,” Karade said to Wear Your Voice. “It’s enticing, beautiful, and encourages critical thinking. Most importantly—love it or hate it, it’s memorable. Black people have been using arts as a means to express our frustrations with maltreatment for generations, and I am blessed and grateful to continue the tradition of fighting for change.”