A South Carolina art museum canceled the sale of a jewelry line featuring items named after dead Black people after it caused outrage on social media.
The Gibbes Museum planned to sell the “Wear Their Names” line created by Paul Chelmis and Jing Wen, founders of the nonprofit organization Shan Shui, according to The Post and Courier. The line included items made with piece of glass broken during a protest on March 30.
The merchandise was named for Black people who have been killed by the police and vigilantes. For instance, two pieces were called “The Trayvon” and “The Breonna.” The Gibbes planned to sell the items in its giftshop before the cancellation. According to screenshots floating around social media, one necklace, named for Elijah McClain, cost $480. The lowest item, a pair of earrings named after Tamir Rice, was priced at $45.
After the Post and Courier featured the line in a story, Charleston Activist Network leader Tamika Gadsden criticized it on Sept. 4. A day later, the museum pulled the line.
“In light of recent discussions, The Gibbes Museum Store is halting the upcoming sale of Shan Shui’s ‘Wear Their Names’ jewelry line,” The Gibbes said in a statement. “The feedback we received from our community was enlightening and appreciated. It has also deepened our perspective in regard to future store merchandise. We apologize to anyone who was hurt by this and will continue to listen and learn from our community.”
Shan Shui also released an apologetic statement.
“So sorry to anyone we offended or harmed, especially those we have been trying to help,” Shan Shui released in a statement. “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.”
A few days after the cancellation, the line got another wave of attention after another person tweeted about it on Tuesday.
“Selling black people at different prices. Man, what does that remind me of…” tweeted one person.
“Literally the way they take the names of people murdered by the state to name their jewelry “the ______”… if they did that sh-t to my family/friend is be on the first flight to fight them,” wrote another.
“The ‘The’ before each name is so wildly disrespectful and unacceptable. Treating humans like items, and the fact that some of those victims were literal kids… I just can’t,” an additional user argued.