'Clothes' by Maya Angelou
Poem purportedly written by Maya Angelou criticizes African Americans for buying clothing manufactured by allegedly racist companies.
Description: Email hoax
Circulating since: Mar. 1999
Status: Falsely attributed to Maya Angelou
Email contributed by A. Jackson, March 15, 2001:
FW: Check out What Maya Angelou has to Say!!!
WHERE'S MY AFRO PICK?
You are in love with TOMMY
But you could care less
You come up in the club wearing VERSACE
And for footwear you wear TIMBERLANDS,
Can not forget your NAUTICA
And to my beautiful black queens
When was the last time you saw LIZ CLAIBORNE
RALPH LAUREN doesn't even look at black men
My people reclaim your status in this world and
---- Maya Angelou
Email contributed by D. McNeal, June 22 2004:
CLOTHES by Maya Angelou
You are in love with Tommy,
But you could care less,
You come up in the club wearing Versace,
And for footwear, you wear Timberlands,
I cannot forget Nautica,
And to my beautiful black queens,
When was the last time you saw Liz Claiborne,
Ralph Lauren doesn't even look at black men,
My people reclaim your status in this world and in your life,
Well, Timberland is owned by the president of the KKK,
You may not get what you pay for,
~ Maya Angelou
Analysis: A notice posted on Maya Angelou's website in 2004 read as follows:
Please be aware that Dr. Maya Angelou has absolutely no affiliation with the "poem" entitled Clothes that is circulating the Internet.In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, a representative of Maya Angelou's speakers' agency said: "It is not her work. She is aware of it, and is very disappointed."
Indeed, no one who a) appreciates good poetry, or b) is at all familiar with the marvelous poetry of Maya Angelou could possibly mistake the horrendous examples above for her work.
Furthermore, the content of the "poem" is false and slanderous. Unfounded charges to the effect that apparel designers Tommy Hilfiger and Liz Claiborne made racist statements on television have circulated online for many years, despite repeated debunkings. The Timberland Company, founded by Nathan Swartz in 1973, is still almost completely family-owned, with Swartz's son and grandson controlling 98 percent of the company's stock. The Swartz family, members of which have spoken publicly of being observant Jews, obviously has no association whatsoever with the anti-Semitic Ku Klux Klan.
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Sources and further reading:
Web Postings Turn Writers into Anonymous
Detroit Free Press, 3 July 2001
Tommy Hilfiger 'Racist' Rumor Is Fashionable Again
Timberland: About Us
From the Timberland corporate Website
Slate magazine, 28 February 2002
Last updated: 11/18/04