If you’re reading this, you likely already know that, here at The Root, Black Lives Matter every day. That said, while we readily condemn all tyranny and marginalization that crosses our paths, due to the demands of our workloads, we’re admittedly predominantly laptop activists—and accordingly, online shoppers. (Hey, everybody has their lane.)
But what about those in your life with Sharpies, bullhorns, and posterboard at the ready, always down to fight the power, call out injustice and stand up to “the man”? This gift guide is for them. Think of it as a way to show you’re down for their cause, whether it’s supporting their right to a non-binary identity or upgrading that tattered Malcolm X poster they’ve had taped to their wall since high school.
So with our best intentions in mind, let’s take this shopping list to these internet streets...
The Brooklyn Museum of Art is world-renowned for its diverse collection and exhibitions, and the past year has seen two that have spawned incredible books on the black radical tradition.
The first was 2017's We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85, which spawned the accompanying A Sourcebook, “focused on re-presenting key voices of the period by gathering a remarkable array of historical documents,” according to the BMA site. For 2018, a second volume was produced, titled New Perspectives, which includes original essays and perspectives from a variety of black women writers, as well as two new poems by Alice Walker.
Also available? Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. Chronicling African American art in the era of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, this volume includes art and essays “bringing to light previously neglected histories of 20th-century black artists.”
All are available in the Brooklyn Museum Shop.
There is no shortage of black and proud merch at Philadelphia Print Works (seriously, I could go broke in there), including reissues of classic black logos and collaborations with the aforementioned Soul of a Nation exhibit and recently released Well Read Black Girl. In fact, you can find options for the entire family here, including university-themed infant onesies emblazoned with the names of black leaders. Also available? Their own riff on 2018's Black Panther phenomenon; a fictional comic book print (also available as a tee), starring the activists as superheroes.
When it comes to issues of intersectionality, The African American Policy Forum, founded by Kimberle Crenshaw is doing the work—even with their merch. While we wish they were no longer a necessity, wearing their #SayHerName tees acknowledging the many black women killed by police are still a poignant way to recognize that the fight continues—and to contribute to a very worthy organization.
This New Orleans-based artist’s murals have appeared all over the world, but you can send a limited edition piece to someone you love, courtesy of his site. Cop one of his illustrated and wrapped spray cans of black notables (instruments of the artist, also known as BMike, himself), or gift them a signed print of one of his inspirational works. Apparel and original art are available, too.
Malcolm X’s legacy remains strong in the hearts, heads, and hands of his daughters, who produced the Malcolm X Legacy collection. Based on the late leader’s 12 principles, this collection of apparel, prints, and home goods is appropriate for activists of all ages.
Malcolm’s eyewear was iconic, but if you know an eyeglass wearer in need of new specs, you can engage them in some visible activism—literally. Bôhten Eyewear is an eco-luxury line that pays “homage to a love of fashion without the loss of social responsibility,” according to its site. The company is the brainchild of Nana Boateng Osei, who sources reclaimed wood from West Africa for the company’s frames, and manufactures them in a zero-waste facility in Canada. (Because activism should be environmental, too.)
More important, Osei works with Sightsavers, a UK-based charity that works to prevent blindness, restore sight, and advocate for social inclusion for people with sight-related disabilities in underserved countries. For every pair of eyeglasses sold, Bôhten makes a donation to Sightsavers’ work in countries like Ghana to prevent and cure blindness.
And yes, they have a “try at home” option—and currently, 32 percent off sitewide.
Being able to identify as you please shouldn’t be a revolutionary act, but it is, and Stuzo Clothing’s got the goods. This gender-free lifestyle line is “for the non-conforming and bold at heart,” according to founders Stoney Michelli & Uzo Ejikeme. If you don’t feel comfortable picking out a strong message for your recipient, a gift card will give them the freedom to identify however they desire.
Every activist needs the right attire (protests can be chilly), and The Young Rebels Studio has the thoughtful, hand-painted gear that will help them make a statement without saying a word. Custom furniture, accessories, and even sneakers are available from this L.A.-based studio. But our favorite is this camo jacket homage to Nina Simone, leaving nothing to be misunderstood.
Liberated People may be best known for its iconic “Trayvon” hoodie (benefiting the Trayvon Martin foundation), but as its website says, this lifestyle brand is “designed to inspire people to act.” Founded in 2012 by actor and activist Gbenga Akinnagbe (most recently seen in HBO’s The Deuce), the brand’s apparel features the liberation dates of nation states around the world in an effort to raise awareness of the common struggle for “liberation in all its forms, both personal and political.”
The clothing is made in America and uses a socially responsible profit structure. In an eco-friendly effort, LP utilizes recycled materials and uses primarily water-based inks.
Shirley Chisholm. Angela Davis. Sylvia Sanchez. Lauryn Hill. All are iconic, convention-defying black women, and all have been honored with their own installment of The Homegirl Box, also known as “a giftbox for the revolution.”
“We are fueled by our ancestors, graffiti, movement work, curvy girl fashion, glitter, and of course, sisterhood!” say founders Brittany and Mickey, and when the revolution comes, we hope to have all of the above in abundance. Bonus: Now through December 21, all boxes are discounted to $50 each.
You woke yet? Hopefully, these conscious ideas will bolster the activist in your life—even if that’s you. We’ll be back tomorrow with another gift guide, but in the meantime, stay... (well, you know.)