Target: The Gap
Goal: Discontinue and apologize for offensive t-shirt
Apparel manufacturer The Gap is currently selling a T-Shirt that bears the words “Manifest Destiny.” There is no explanation to this phrase, nor is there any additional content on the shirt. Activists have responded with angry letters and calls to boycott The Gap.
The term “manifest destiny” was used during the 19th century and described the widespread notion that America, a young nation ruled by white men of European heritage, has the divine right to spread across the North American continent and bring all its peoples under the American sphere of influence. This ideology drove the violent expansion and occupation of indigenous lands as well as the Mexican American War of the 1840s.
While the slogan was likely pushed out of ignorance, not malicious intent, it is highly offensive to American Indians as well as other groups that were subjected to American colonization. Given its mass marketing presence, The Gap has the ability to use this opportunity to help educate people on the ugly history behind “manifest destiny” and its relationship to America’s record of violent expansionism. The Gap should discontinue carrying the t-shirt and issue a statement of apology that appropriately addresses the grievances of the offended groups.
Dear The Gap,
You are currently selling a t-shirt that bears the slogan “Manifest Destiny.” While I am not certain of the intent or of the cultural relevance of placing this slogan on one of your products, I speak for many people when I tell you that this is an extremely offensive act.
The term “manifest destiny” refers to a slogan used during 19 century America. It meant that America (a nation founded by and ruled by white men of European descent) had the divine right to conquer the entirety of the North American continent and subjugate its peoples into the American sphere of influence. This had violent and genocidal consequences for many indigenous tribes and peoples. Certainly this is not a legacy your company wishes to promote through its products.
As a major clothing outlet, you have the ability to use your marketing presence to educate people on this issue. Therefore, I ask that you discontinue the aforementioned t-shirt and issue an apology that acknowledges the violent history behind American expansionism. This would do right by the groups that have been offended by the marketing of your product.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: BlogHer