Edit: 2/14/18 — I was told and confirmed that Target updated their site to remove the “Because of Them” reference. Thanks everyone.
5 years ago, I created the Because of Them We Can® campaign to tell the stories of Black trailblazers so that young Black kids could understand their possibilities and see themselves as our heroes. I wanted them to know that our history is rich, and full of countless people we should be proud of.
The Because of Them We Can® message has been amplified across so many channels, beyond social. We were able to do campaigns and interstitials on Nickelodeon, PBS, BET and more. The campaign has expanded beyond February, and is now a platform to promote positive news in the Black community. But more personally, I was able to witness the joy and excitement on hundreds of kids’ faces when they transformed into people like Muhammad Ali, Mae Jemison, Shirley Chisholm, and Nelson Mandela. They saw themselves on television, in magazines and on billboards portraying icons past and present that they now aspire to be like or honor.
From viral photos and videos, to any and everything we publish or create that revolves around excellence…it’s about exposing folks, young and old, to the dope stuff Black people have and will continue to do. My hope is that they’ll become enlightened, inspired and encouraged.
In the last 5 years, there have been numerous individuals and companies who have tried to copy our trademarked designs or name in an attempt to benefit from the trust and brand that we’ve worked so hard to build. They’ve done it, not to inspire or effect change, but solely to make money. And while I have never spoken publicly about these instances or how they impact what we’re trying to do, seeing this close copy from a large corporation like Target couldn’t go unaddressed.
While this Black History Month “Because of Them” t-shirt from Target appears to be affiliated or connected with our brand, it is not. But it was enough to cause people to believe we had some sort of partnership with them. What Target has done happens too often. It is ethically shady.
Rather than skating closely to the trademark, it would have been great for Target to partner with a Black creator during Black History Month in order to share the full Because of Them We Can® message. That’s how you lead the way and show your commitment to the African American community, by investing in its people. Not like this. I’m pretty sure Malcolm, Martin, Ida and Harriet would agree.
Regardless, the work continues. I just got tired of seeing this stuff and not saying anything…