Nas has launched a new charity collection in his clothing line dedicated to Black History Month in a move he said is designed to “celebrate being Black.”
In the months following ongoing stories about police brutality and racism against Black Americans, the rapper told The Huffington Post he wanted to create the “Blk Hstry 2017” line to promote positivity in the community.
“We’re in a time now where we can easily get caught up focusing on the negative things going on in America and feel like we have almost been set back in our journey,” he said in a statement. “This collection is about turning things around and instilling positivity. Celebrating being Black in a loud and fun way. Taking a much-needed moment to be proud of the achievements we have made, our colorful culture, Black royalty and excellence from the past, present, and future.”
The 17-item collection features hats, tote bags, dashikis and sweatshirts displaying pro-Black messages. They reimagine notable cartoon characters by making Charlie Brown Black, while the Pink Panther transforms into a member of the Black Panther Party. Sayings on the apparel include “Black Don’t Crack” and “Know Your Hstry.” Items can be purchased for prices ranging from $24 to $68 and part of the proceeds benefit the National Black Child Development Institute. The D.C.-based organization’s website says it is dedicated to ensuring a successful future for Black children by creating quality programs that increase self-pride and make them proud of their heritage.
Nas did not always embrace Black History Month, which was established in the 1920s as Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson. It later expanded to a month-long celebration held in February each year.
“I used to low-key cringe when Black History Month came around,” he said. “It felt like a slap in the face with all the hell we catch daily. Like a small reward for a dog’s good behavior, then back to the kennel. But I’ll take it. I’ll take what I can get and that’s all I need to go to new heights.”
The rapper previously introduced another charitable clothing collection of “Kneeling Santa Christmas” sweaters. That line benefited the Center for Court Innovation, an organization that aims to lower crime and incarceration rates, according to Atlanta Black Star.