Tuesday, September 19

Letter to the editor: 'Still Filthy' T-shirt not intended to be offensive

The recent report of vandalism that included racist and sexist slurs is more disturbing knowing it occurred near the UCLA campus, a place where all races and nationalities are welcomed as students, staff and faculty members. The UCLA Store, operated by the Associated Students UCLA, has always embraced diversity and regrets any offense taken by any member of the UCLA community for the graphics on a T-shirt once available at the UCLA Store from Australian surf wear brand Billabong.

The image, an artist’s rendition of an eagle and a snake with the caption, “still filthy,” underneath, was created to promote the surfing movie of the same name, which was a follow-up to the successful surf movie “Filthy Habits.” The term “filthy” is Australian slang for something great or awesome, hence the name of the films and the slogan on the shirt. As was pointed out by one of the protesters referenced in the article, the image of the eagle and snake as depicted on the T-shirt is a revered cultural symbol, and when combined with the term “still filthy,” it becomes an offensive slur to the Latino community. When first presented to us, the store rejected the design. Unfortunately, it was inadvertently included in a random assortment of designs that were purchased at a later date.

A representative from Billabong and Peruvian-born graphic artist Santiago Uceda emphatically insists they had no intention of offending or referring to any person or group of people. It is also not the UCLA Store’s practice or intention to purchase merchandise that would be deemed offensive.

Like Uceda, who in an emailed response to a UCLA student promised to “be more mindful in the future about creating images that could have a negative impact,” the UCLA Store will be more diligent in reviewing apparel artwork in the future. Without a doubt, ASUCLA’s strong record of promoting diversity will be seen as a stronger testament to its views than an image on a T-shirt.

Patrick Healey
UCLA Store’s director of general merchandise

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