Clothing Company Strikes Up Controversy with Arabic Dearborn Shirt

A shirt made by the company Down with Detroit features a screenprint of "Dearborn" written in Arabic.

A T-shirt design released Wednesday by local clothing company Down with Detroit has stirred up conversation that the design is racist.

The design shows the word "Dearborn" written in Arabic.

Posted on the company's Facebook page Wednesday evening, the photo immediately sparked debate over whether the design is offensive.

"Maybe not racist ... maybe tasteless," wrote fan Dion Pallone. "Not a fan of it."

"Well, never bought a DWD shirt, and unless this ridiculous shirt is removed, I will never endorse it," added Jillian Christine.

"Dearborn is the largest Islamic area in the U.S.," contested fan Jeremy Welker. "If this is racist then so is having a brew on an Irish shirt, or having a rapper on a Detroit shirt."

As of Thursday morning, the post had more than 300 comments, 200 likes, and 32 shares.

Down with Detroit responded to many of the comments, but did not remove the shirt, contesting that it was no different than other shirts they had made about the heritage of some Michigan residents.

"This has nothing to do with politics," the company said. "Dearborn has the nation's largest Arab population. This design was made by an Iraqi-American who is Catholic."

Founded in 2006, Down with Detroit is a clothing company known for original designs that promote Detroit, surrounding suburbs and Michigan, as well as local sports teams. It has been named in HOUR Media's Best of Detroit.

The Dearborn shirt is not the only edgy design the company offers. One shirt displays "Taylortucky," a nickname given to the city of Taylor; another shirt for Mexicantown shows a cactus wearing a sombrero.

"To say it mildly, we were totally taken aback by the comments," the company posted Thursday morning. "We didn't view this design any differently than our Corktown, Hamtramck and Mexicantown shirts, but it sure was received differently!"

Access Down with Detroit online at http://downwithdetroit.spreadshirt.com.

ousmane March 29, 2012 at 07:57 PM
westing time writing has nothing to do with the race, just get a job!
p March 29, 2012 at 08:05 PM
im sorry, yet i think that some people are a bit too sensitive about certian things...
Lebsun March 29, 2012 at 08:14 PM
It is so sad that it is the year 2012 and ignorant comments such as terrorist & go back to your country are still being said . This is a country of " immigrants " , people need to read U.S. History , just like it was acceptable for the Greeks, Mexicans , and Polish it should be acceptable for the Arab - American community !
JC March 29, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Racist?! Sorry I dont see it.
Joy Maulvi March 29, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I am shaking my head here. It is a shirt that says Dearborn on it! Blows my mind how people can see this offensive!??!! .. I would like one that says Missoula where I live. I think it is awesome!
Pamela March 29, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I'm not Arabic, live in Dearborn, and would be happy to wear the shirt. It celebrates an important part of the city!
Pamela March 29, 2012 at 08:28 PM
I assume you are joking...
jina mardo March 29, 2012 at 08:44 PM
You need to wake up sweetheart . Who is media ? media are us you and me and everybody else . try to be fair
Capt March 29, 2012 at 08:45 PM
This is crazy! I have way more offensive shirts hanging up in my closet. Yeah, I get people that turn there nose up, but I get alot more laughs. Racism will never die, not in my life time. Only time I have witness a calming was after 9/11, when were nothing but Americans. Except for brown people, every ignorant person thought there neighbor who was brown was a terrorist. One of my best friends is Lebanese, you wouldnt believe what he went threw and hes a Christian!
Common Sense March 29, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Offended= Ignorant? One can't tell the difference here !!!!!
Sonya March 29, 2012 at 09:06 PM
I don't love the shirt, but only because it's not very attractive, not because I think it's edgy or racist. The written Arabic language is very beautiful and a similar shirt can be made with a much nicer design. That being said, The University of Michigan has been printing shirts in dozens of languages for years, including Arabic. Is it offensive only because it says "Dearborn" in Arabic? Also, it seems that those who are offended are not Arabs who think this is racist, but rather non-Arabs offended by a shirt that has Arabic writing on it, which as an Arab American I do find offensive. Also, some of the information quoted from the DWD and a local commenter about Dearborn having the highest Islamic population or the highest Arab population in the country are incorrect, statistically speaking. However, I will say good job Dearborn Patch for sharing this story.
City of Dearborn (Editor) March 29, 2012 at 10:48 PM
You are very correct, Sonya - I think it's a common misconception that Dearborn has the biggest Arab population in the country. I believe that title actually goes to New York City. However, Dearborn does have the largest concentration of Arab residents in the country, last time I checked.
Joey D March 30, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Does anyone know how to order these in bulk?
mooney March 30, 2012 at 02:14 AM
I agree with you Nathan
Amena March 30, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Shadia? From All-American Muslim?
Jahna B. March 30, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I wouldn't wear it simply because I am not Arabic and cannot read it..But it's not racist! I do own shirts that display disabled people in wheelchairs as I am in one, I also am in the process of ordering bumper stickers that comment on my short stature. How is any of that different? People need to lighten up. There are more things in this world to worry over than a tee shirt!
Jahna B. March 30, 2012 at 04:55 PM
This is from an article written in 2003 - so almost a decade ago. I'm having trouble getting current numbers.. but this is what it brown the numbers, then, down to: " Almost half of the Arabs in the United States live in five states -- California (190,890), New York (120,370), Michigan (115,284), New Jersey (71,770) and Florida (77,461)." - NewsMax.com Wires Thursday, Dec. 4, 2003 http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/12/3/192906.shtml
Jahna B. March 30, 2012 at 04:58 PM
addendum: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_American (Though I know Wiki isn't always the greatest source)... . "According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city with the largest percentage of Arab Americans is Dearborn, Michigan, a southwestern suburb of Detroit, at nearly 40%. The Detroit metropolitan area is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans (403,445), followed by the New York City Combined Statistical Area (371,233), Los Angeles (308,295), Chicago (176,208), and Washington D.C. (168,208).[2] (NOTE: This information is reportedly based upon survey findings, but is contradicted by information posted on the Arab American Institute website itself, which states that California as a whole only has 272,485, and Michigan as a whole only 191,607. 2010 American Community Survey information from the American Factfinder website gives a figure of about 168,000 for Michigan.)"
Abu Ali March 31, 2012 at 11:54 AM
I'm Arab American and about to order me one. Love it.
Rita Dennaoui March 31, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I am an Arab American, and I would not wear it. Not because it is offensive rather I find it ugly. As for Dearborn having the highest Arabic people well that is very incorrect. I find it so sad, that we always have to associate Dearborn with Arabs, when this city was founded and built originally by the Italian , Polish, and the Irish. Maybe, Dearborn needs to stand as Dearborn and not as being Arab. Guess what, I find nothing beautiful about the shirt, and nor will I buy one. Lets not forget there are other people who live in this city, and there those who have been pushed away of the focus we have given to one race. Get a grip on this crap.
Dan Merritt March 31, 2012 at 03:29 PM
The only thing distasteful about this shirt is that I can only find it printed on a Raglan cut (aka Jersey cut), that style shirt went out in the 80's with feathered hair cuts and bell bottoms. Otherwise I would be proud to wear one.
M. Imsosure March 31, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I was trying to put words to my thoughts, you did it for me Nathan
Lee Jacobsen March 31, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Most clothing such as T shirts are produced overseas due to cost factors. However, the screen printing, or digital printing, is done usually in the USA, making it a 'made in USA' product. Would the term 'Middle East' work as a melting pot term for some folk from the Dearborn area? Europeans are French , German, etc, so perhaps Middle East folk are from Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, etc. We are all Americans first, of course! I need a T shirt that says 'Dearborn' in Norwegian. Most folk don't realize that Dearborn has the 153rd highest concentration of folk from Norway right here in their back yard! Long live 'Sons of Norway!'
Carla O'Neill March 31, 2012 at 07:21 PM
What I find distasteful is the misleading name of "Down With Detroit." For awhile, I did not visit the website, believing it was a site condemning the Detroit area. I wonder how many other people were fooled by the name.
POWDERBURNER April 01, 2012 at 12:55 AM
When my grandparents immigrated here from Poland in 1904 they went to work, not on welfare.
POWDERBURNER April 01, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I have a t-shirt with INFIDEL printed in both arabic gobbledegook and English on it. It gets a lot of looks when I wear it around town, mostly looks that could kill. So much for freedom of expression, it obviously isn't a 2 way street with them.
AC April 01, 2012 at 06:41 PM
FYI, in the middle east, no one uses this term 'infidel.' It is a western construct projected on to to Arabs.
Bob April 01, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Ac, you need to read the quaran.
Leslie April 02, 2012 at 12:50 AM
It's just the word Dearborn written in Arabic! Amazing how much conversation and controversy it's generated! It would be fun to have a shirt with Dearborn written in the many languages of the people that have lived in Dearborn over the years (including Norwegian). Like the old AAA stickers that said "Bring 'em back alive!" in many languages -- we collected them as kids.
Julia April 21, 2012 at 09:04 PM
In an effort to defend this shirt, I think it is a good idea for Down With Detroit to highlight the fact that their intention was not to offend people. It would be different if the text on the shirt said something negative about Dearborn or Arabs, but it does not. Having one word, the name of a city, in a different translation than English is nothing compared to real issues of racism. The bigger, more substantiated racial threats deserve the energy and attention rather than the way a city name is written. The company has produced items with very similar images on them in the past, and yet those items did not have this kind of controversy surrounding them. Obviously if those other products continued to sell and did not lose consumers, it is understandable that the company would see this shirt as not being a big deal as well. Down With Detroit hasn't shown any signs of cultural, religious, or racial hatred in its existence and so it is important for the public to view this product in relation to the entire image of the company rather than a single representation of racism. Down With Detroit should display the facts to the public, regarding both the company's intentions and history, so that people can put this individual shirt in context with the many other products this company offers.


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