Vans releases "The Prison Issue." Tone-deaf or celebratory?
Did you know that the United States of America locks more people up than any other country on earth? More than North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iran, even Australia. More than Russia, Mongolia, Ukraine, South Africa, France, even Syria.
So many people!
1 out of every 36 Americans is under some sort of correctional supervision according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, growing by 700% from 1970-2005 creating a multi-multi billion dollar industry.
Moreover, the whole proposition is wildly racist. The Center for American Progress reports that one out of every fifteen men in prison is black, one out of thirty-six Hispanic and one out of one hundred and six white. One out of every three black men will go to prison at some point in their lives generally for some low-level, petty drug crime. Black men get stopped more often by the police, searched more often, beat more often and then get carted off to the big house very much more often to spend at least 20% longer there.
A human rights disaster by any measure.
And are you reading this on a contraband cellphone behind bars right now?
Probably not (because if you are not Maurice Cole then you are white) but if you want to feel like you are try buying a pair of the new Vans Prison Issue. A shoe modeled on the very same sort black and Hispanic inmates wear in cages.
The release reads:
The return of the prison issue (AKA style #23) features an updated toecap and resized straps for the ultimate comfort and support.
Do you think actual prisoners get updated toecaps and resized straps? Do you think releasing a shoe celebrating hard time in an era of extra-hot racial tension is tone-deaf or do think Vans parent company VF Corp is honoring a truly American pastime?
Should some percentage of sales go to the non-profit The Sentencing Project aimed at fixing America’s criminal justice system?
Oh what a grand idea!