Body Suits for Black Boys: In Memory of Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo and Trayvon Martin
By Kangsen Feka Wakai
Kangsen Feka Wakai is a Boston based writer and journalist of Cameroonian origin.
(I wrote this piece as a parody, the only way I can express my outrage with the incident.)
Armor Inc. is proud to launch its first item after just four weeks of operations. The D. Martin Bell body suit will premier its pre-summer clothing series, which promises to awe, and perhaps even stun aficionados of post-modernist mode from Atlanta to Johannesburg.
The D. Martin Bell body suit was conceived by a team of self-described activist designers driven by not just their interest in haute couture, but by a sense of social responsibility. According to the designers, the D. Martin Bell body suit is a creative response and proactive measure against the rampant and rather unapologetic murders of young men of African descent for no other reason but being young black men in what some claim to be the right place at the wrong time.
Armor Inc.’s designers were supported relentlessly, both during the conception and execution of the project, by their South Side Chicago based
R&D division, which did extensive research including fieldwork in the Bronx, Queens, New York and Sanford, Florida. Their fieldwork also took them to urban areas in the West Coast and Southwest, where they consulted with about 41 fashion conscious young black men.
“Our discussion revolved around fashion related issues; however, I was rather surprised how comfortable some of these young men were when we began discussing ‘life as a walking target’,” said a researcher, who elected to remain anonymous.
The aesthetes of D. Martin Bell were obviously influenced by the body-hugging gear of deep sea divers and comic characters Spiderman and Superman. Most of the brand’s designers were born during the period when Jesse Jackson still had presidential aspirations.
“Our goal was to come up with something that had an edge yet something very practical to the very lives of our targeted audience. At Armor Inc., we take our work seriously and it’s our way of communicating to other young black men that what you wear and where you wear it can be a matter of life and death,” said a designer, who also elected to remain anonymous.
The first batch of D. Martin Bell body suits, E. Till Collection Pre-Summer Series, to reach stores will come in three colors, an unthreatening cream, a boring grey and a vibrant pink. Armor Inc.’s spokesperson, who wanted to remain anonymous, insisted the company realized that colors mean different things to different people, thus are mindful about what colors they choose for the Summer E. Till Collection Series.
“The body suit will compel these young men to carry their wallets on their necks like necklaces and learn to use bluetooths. If they find themselves confronted, by gun-toting neighborhood watch citizens or law enforcement, it becomes impossible for anyone to claim the young black man tried to reach for a gun,” the spokesperson said.
According to the company, it views its product as serving two purposes, saving lives and resources. The company argued that because taxpayers’ money is often squandered to determine whether a murder is a murder when it involves a young black man under certain circumstances, it views vision as a form of public service.
However, Armor Inc. is realistic about its expectations. After befriending 2,006 young black men on Facebook, the company conducted a poll asking them whether or not they would wear the D. Martin Bell body suits.
In response to the poll, 1,998 of their recently added friends unfriended the company; four of them laughed out loud [LOL], meanwhile another four responded in the affirmative, even posting photos of themselves in deep-sea diver jumpsuits carrying signs, which said: Unthreatening Black Man, Do I Look Safe Enough? I Am Someone’s Son and Think Before U Shoot.
The company says it has surveyed the market and will dedicate more time in states like Louisiana and others that have created laws prohibiting certain fashion trends they deem offensive, which just happens to be prevalent in African-American youth culture.
“We have done our homework. We are sending these items everywhere but obviously our focus will be in those regions, states and cities where sagging-pants and hoodies have triggered. It only makes sense that we follow cultural trends,” Armor Inc. said in the press release after the launch.
Armor Inc. says it is in talks with a small defense contractor in Jena, La, interested in its line of products to co-design a bullet proof D. Martin Bell edition for those young black males paranoid by those individuals who find justifications to shoot young black men for being young black men.