Thursday, October 10, 2013


One of my students wears a political t-shirt fairly often.  Think the Che t-shirts, where you have to know it's Che Guevara to know it's political, or the "Who's John Galt?" t-shirts, where you have to know a miniscule bit of information to know it's political.

It seems to me, these shirts are a bit of wearing one's politics on one's sleeve.  Or chest, rather.  I'm happy for students to do it, but I don't feel comfortable doing so as an instructor, because of the power differential and such.

I tend to think that I'm not overtly partisan in my classes, but then I think, well, I bet the t-shirt student doesn't think zie's being overtly partisan, either, but I certainly read the shirt as a partisan statement.  So I wonder if, in fact, I'm more overt about my politics than I think.  (I think I'm pretty overt about some of my politics: I'm pretty overt about respecting people as people, including women as people, and I'm pretty overt about trying to fight racism.  And I'm pretty overt about LGBTQ rights.  Of course, to me, my positions about those things seem centrist and, well, moderate.)

Anyway, as I think about the political t-shirts I see on campus, it strikes me that they're mostly worn by white men.  Do white men think their politics need to be shared more than the rest of us?  Or do I just notice more?

And do I notice the Galt t-shirt more than I notice the Che t-shirt?  And does a more conservative person notice the Che t-shirt more than the Galt one?


  1. I read the title of your post in light of my recent composition classes focusing on logos, ethos, and pathos. It's so hard to persuade students that "logos" is not the plural of "logo" that I am almost incapable of reading the word as the plural of logo. But your question is a good one: which logo more effectively appeals to ethos? (Not the plural of "etho," whatever that is!)

  2. All the political shirts I notice are worn by Black students. I have two political shirts, but I don't wear them in class. One has a picture of Kwame Nkrumah on it. The other one says "Make Fufu not War." In Black Africa (South Africa is different) nobody would ever come out in favor of LGBT rights in a classroom. It might be the only issue that could get you fired here. Male homosexual acts are illegal in every single country north of Pretoria and this illegality has considerable popular support. So it would not be considered a moderate or centrist position on this continent.