Michael and I met the weekend before Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot. I was on the hunt for a vintage leather jacket at Melrose Trading Post and he convinced me to buy the one I was eyeing. “If you don’t go for it, I’m gonna snatch it up for my clothing line,” he said. I was sold when he said he’d doctor it up for me with his personal flair and poetry.
I fell in love with his designs in the days following, constantly refreshing his Instagram feed to see what he’d come out with next. His writing really spoke to me and I could totally get behind the themes of peace, integrity, and love.
On July 6, my own social media feeds were flooded with posts about Philando Castile, a black man fatally shot by cops in my home state of Minnesota. It wasn’t even 24 hours after Alton Sterling was killed at the hands of the police in Louisiana, and people of all races were crying out against the grave injustice.
I wasn’t surprised at all to see that Michael was one of those people. What drew me to his work in the first place was his ability to speak his mind without fear and his passion for truth and creation in a world that’s plagued with violence and destruction. I felt a fire inside to create for justice, to say fuck you to institutional racism, police brutality, and gun violence, and to get back to the truth of oneness and love.
An intense range of emotions took over that day as I learned more about the shootings, ranging from heartbreak to hopelessness to pure rage. I wanted my jacket to make a statement and was thrilled when Michael agreed to collaborate to bring you the images featured here, of course shot by my girl Polly.
A huge inspiration for this shoot was the song “Throw Down Your Guns” by my favorite band Wild Belle. According to the brother and sister duo (via KCRW), “‘Throw Down Your Guns’” is a song of surrender. It’s a movement of love. . . . This song is a plea for peace. It’s a cry for change. It’s an anthem of togetherness.
“Where there is unity there is always victory.” ~ Publilius Syrus
We brought in a gang of misfits of varying ethnicities, shapes, and colors as our own anthem of togetherness. We wanted to show the beauty of unity, transcending race, gender, religion, and politics.
But we’re so much more powerful when we stand together.
You may not be able to change the way other people think or behave, but you can always start with yourself. Hate breeds hate. Violence leads to more violence. Try your hardest to fight hatred with love. Remember, we are all one.