By Eric on 2006-04-14

Unreal on how you defend what is obviously a racist symbol. Why don’t we put swaztikas on Nikes? That’s a cool artistic symbol too. I bet your friend could draw real cool shackles or a noose. When Mr. McGee puts his logo on a shoe, nobody gives two cents about his background and how respected he is in the underground. If he drew something racist, then the thing he drew is a racist symbol. What could possibly be a more racist symbol than a buck-toothed, bowl headed, pig nosed asian? What he did with his hand is a hate crime. Yes, it’s art. Racist art. I guess there’s such a thing.
-Dennis Martinez

Dennis Martinez, thanks for writing.

Since you say it, let’s say there’s a Savastika, the Japanese buddhist symbol on a Nike. (It’s literally a reversed Swastika, and it’s been around for hundreds or perhaps 1000s of years). My guess is 95 or more Americans of 100 would confuse it for the Nazi symbol. But nonetheless, the exact Nazi symbol is different from a Ray Fong. (I’m sure you’re saying no it isn’t… but it is in this case. Think how one is about pure genocide, and one is a mocking image.) – you know, this is like a puzzle of a paragraph. I apologize.

It’s about context.

People won’t know the difference, unfortunately, but for those who do will know it’s fine. Those who don’t will never understand. That said, if there was an artist who did nothing but non-racist swastika art (if this is possible – see how it’s different?), and then he was asked to do a shoe, it would be part of his art. This is a farce, but if it’s art, it’s art.

The Fong image solo, sure it can be seen as a racist image, but in context and how it’s used, isn’t a racist statement. Imagine African American artists use black-face type images as their art. It’s in tons of folk art from the south. Manuel Ocampo does have Swastikas in his art. Are these hate crimes or racist? Wait until you see his Keds!

I’m sure there is a such thing as racist art, but this isn’t it. Thanks for writing, and sorry you’re offended. I doubt I’ll be able to convince you.

At the same time, I’ve lost control of all this for myself. Time for it to sail away.