Profit from pain

Controversial garment: After the sweatshirt was taken off of the site, one is only able to find it with a google search and see the piece from screen shots. Various publications also documented the offensive action of Urban Outfitters.

Controversial garment: After the sweatshirt was taken off of the site, one is only able to find it with a google search and see the piece from screen shots. Various publications also documented the offensive action of Urban Outfitters. (Photo By: Sarah Penix)

On Sept. 15th, 2014 Urban Outfitters, a popular retail clothing store, received national attention due to their controversial product. The company released a vintage-style Kent State University sweatshirt that featured blood spatter, alluding to the infamous “Kent State Massacre.” Because of the May 4th shootings in 1970 that took place on campus, the garment is extremely offensive to anyone aware of the incident which ended with four deaths and nine wounded students from the university.

Since I was eight years old, the events at Kent State in 1970 have intrigued me greatly due to the interesting dynamics between the government and civilians.  Because my sister is an alumna of Kent State, I felt, even from a young age, a personal connection to the tragic incident due to the sheer thought of how I would have felt if my sister were one of the four students shot on their college campus by the National Guard.

The bigotry of Urban Outfitters in selling such an offensive piece repulses me. Because the company profited and gained publicity from their joke regarding a defining moment in anti-war protest history, the insensitivity towards surviving victims of such a heinous act committed by the National Guard is jaw-dropping.

The motives of such a corporation unfortunately cannot be defined; however, Urban Outfitter’s response to the University’s offense was inexcusable in the fact that the company claimed that the red spatters on the sweatshirt were not intended to mimic blood. Despite this, the print clearly resembles blood spatter and the correlation is unmistakable especially since there are red spatters over the heart of the garment.

Furthermore, Urban Outfitters did not take responsibility for its actions. The blame was put on a printing mistake with the material and the company merely responded with an apology to the University via Twitter. This kind of response is irresponsible and offensive in itself, proving that the insensitivity of the corporation did not yield after being condemned.

In light of the company’s offensive action, I would like to honor the numerous victims of the shooting. I would also like to acknowledge how even though the event took place over 40 years ago, it is still influential to the university, rights and responsibilities of the government and of the people and lastly,  the families and friends of the victims wounded or killed by the National Guard on May 4th, 1970.

By Sarah Penix

penix.sarah@oakwoodschools.org

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