Walking back from the Staples Center memorial for Michael Jackson earlier this week, it was obvious that thanks to hundreds of urban entrepreneurs, all manifestations of Michael—from little brown boy to…well, to whoever he was at the end—would live on long after the last security cordon had been taken down.  The brother had been well and fully rendered on Ts, tanks, sweatshirts, even onesies for his littlest fans.

Those T shirts were an expression of love and admiration.  It's the other ones I've been seeing recently that worry me.  'Cause a lot of people who are wearing them know better.

Some examples:

Your Boyfriend Wasn't Home Last Night 'Cause He Was With Me.  (On a young server in a cafeteria line.)

Think I'm a B*tch?  You Should Meet My Mother! (On a woman who was good and grown, strolling through a shopping mall)

I Like It Sloppy! (On a young father with two toddlers in tow.)

Same Sh*t, Different Day (On a man who had come to court to plead a traffic ticket.  Really.)

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I'm not making these up.  These weren't on teenaged kids (who tend to wear entertainers, sports figures or cartoons, like Chef from South Park), these were on adults who didn't snatch them by accident when they were getting dressed in the dark.  They were statements, yes, but to what end?

Even if you are a skank, why wear a T shirt that advertises that to the world?

So I'm puzzled.  If you have some thoughts for the rationale behind these displays, holla.

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I'm sure there are examples even more out than the ones I've cited.  If you have one, do share it with us.  (And do a little editing if it's got one of those words that gets you fined by the FCC…)

Karen Grigsby Bates is a LA-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).

is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).