'Wear Their Names' Jewelry Line Exploiting Killings Of Black Americans Pulled From Charleston Museum
Back to the drawing board -- we beg of you.
September 09, 2020 at 1:46 pm
A jewelry line created from shards of broken glass collected from a Charleston Black Lives Matter protest has been pulled from shelves ahead of its scheduled debut next week.
A play on "Say Their Names," the "Wear Their Names" collection was founded by jewelry designer Jing Wen and boyfriend Paul Chelmis, according the Post and Courier. With pieces named after Black Americans who died at the hands of police brutality or racial injustice, the materials used for The Trayvon [Martin], The Breonna [Taylor], The Eric [Garner] and several other pieces were collected from the aftermath of a May 30 demonstration in downtown Charleston.
just when we thought it couldn’t get ANY worse... pic.twitter.com/iGm7423PeI— sophie the cat lady (@sophieming_) September 8, 2020
Per The Post and Courier, profits from the sale would have been donated to From Privilege to Progress, a non-profit which aims to bring more conversations about race to social media. While Wen and Chelmis would not personally reap the benefits of "Wear Their Names," Tamika Gadsden of the Charleston Activist Network spoke out against the couple's decision to sell the products as it still profits from, exploits and normalizes Black pain.
"It made what happened on May 30 into a caricature," Gadsden explained on her Instagram Live. "Really what it is is perpetuating white supremacy."
The majority of the pieces had a sale price of more than $100.
In statement obtained by Post and Courier, The Gibbes Museum of Art explained their decision.
“In light of recent discussions, The Gibbes Museum Store is halting the upcoming sale of Shan Shui’s 'Wear Their Names' jewelry line," he said. "The feedback we received from our community was enlightening and appreciated. It has also deepened our perspective in regards to future store merchandise. We apologize to anyone who was hurt by this and will continue to listen and learn from our community."
One person, however, is stepping in to defend the couple. Kanika Moore, a Charleston-based Black musician, tells the outlet Chelmis spoke with her before moving forward with the decision.
"When Paul came to me with the idea, he really wanted to make sure that it would be perceived the right way," Moore said. "He was cautious about it and the way it would be viewed. He wanted it to be a positive influence."
The couple released a statement offering forgiveness to anyone offended through their non-profit group Shan Shui.
"So sorry to anyone we offended or harmed, especially those we have been trying to help," the statement read. "We genuinely thought what we were doing was good, and we want to continue on the best path. We’ve removed the names from our site, halted our collaboration with The Gibbes, and are going to pause things to hunker down to figure out what we can do next. We want to make things right. Thank you for holding us accountable."
Before the cancelation, Post and Courier notes that all 40 pieces of The Tamir [Rice] available during pre-sale had already sold out.