Pete Buttigieg’s ‘Invest in Black America’ T-shirt sparks backlash

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Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is facing backlash online in response to a T-shirt being sold on his presidential campaign website.

Many online claimed that the shirt, which says “Invest in Black America” in Pan-African colors, was an example of extreme pandering from the Democratic presidential candidate.

“OK. I’m going to be as calm as possible about this,” author Jason Overstreet tweeted. “If you don’t understand how f*cking panderingly racist & clueless this is, please go see a therapist. Make sure the therapist is black. Are the shirts with Bob Marley on them coming next? I can’t.”

Overstreet’s followers appeared to agree, similarly criticizing the Buttigieg campaign for being “tone deaf.”

“Olympic-level pandering. I want to like him so much. There are more subtle and sincere ways of saying ‘I support you,'” Twitter user @GlenAlanBurris responded. “I’d recommend listening and learning why your black support is next to zero. Being tone deaf is part of it. Warren admits her failings and gains credibility.”

Many noted the irony of the fact that purchasing the shirt would actually require them to invest in a white man first.

“Invest in black America, but first buy this shirt from a white guy,” Twitter user @SessaPapaya said.

Others also began using memes and GIFs to express the absurdity of the situation.

Numerous users brought up the fact that Buttigieg has been widely criticized for his actions toward the Black community while mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

“This is just unreal and it is such incredible gaslighting because PETE did not invest in Black America when he was mayor of South Bend,” Twitter user @jljacobson said. “And he is *selling this as merch?* For what profit?”

Another admitted that they thought the shirts were “tasteless and clueless Trump merch” at first.

Buttigieg’s campaign has thus far declined to respond to the backlash. The shirt is currently selling for $27 and is “proudly made and union-printed in the USA.”

The T-shirt debacle comes just days after a Black voter accused the Buttigieg campaign of “tokenism” for repeatedly asking her to stand behind the candidate during a live telecast of his Iowa caucus speech.

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Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.