Morrissey removes 'problematic' T-shirt featuring image of James Baldwin from online sale

'Bigmouth strikes again'

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Tuesday 21 March 2017 09:03

Morrissey seems to have removed a new T-shirt he was selling after its design prompted a backlash from fans and the media.

The T-shirt featured lyrics taken from The Smiths' 1986 song 'Unloveable': "I wear black on the outside/'Cause black is how I feel on the inside" which were arranged around an image of black author and civil rights activist James Baldwin.

Morrissey was planning to sell the shirts during his upcoming tour around North America, as well as on his online store, but it has since been taken off sale.

The T-shirt that was being sold on Morrissey's website

After the design was unveiled, many fans suggested it was "problematic", with one writing "the Morrissey the less I like".

Music press also attacked the merchandise.

Claire Lobernfield described it in the Factmag fanzine as "completely bone-headed, absurdly tone deaf, pretty much totally racist" and added: "This unadvisable tee will be available for purchase at Morrissey's upcoming North American tour. But please don't get it."

Pitchfork said it was problematic while Billboard deemed it "all a bit uncomfortable, to be perfectly honest".

Meanwhile publisher Melville House wrote on its website: "This particular shirt is a regrettable misfire of internet mash-up culture, in which the curated mingling of disparate words and images devalue one another, rather than enrich one another.

Morrissey has described himself as a fan of Baldwin's work, writing in his 2013 biography that he loved the books Go Tell It on the Mountain and The Fire Next Time.

He has yet to comment on this particular incident but has been accused of racism a number of times in the past, which he has always vehemently denied.

In 2010 he caused uproar after describing Chinese people as a "subspecies" because of the way they treated animals, telling interviewer Simon Armitage: "Did you see the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific. You can't help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies."

Morrissey did not apologise in a later statement, saying only that: "There are no animal protection laws in China and this results in the worst animal abuse and cruelty on the planet. It is indefensible."

It is currently unclear if the James Baldwin T-shirts will still be sold during the singer's North American tour.

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