A message many in Lubbock will recognize from a flag on the Citizen’s Tower (formerly the Omni Building) is now available on T-shirts for sale in at least one Lubbock store.
Shawn Anglin, the owner of Culture Clothing said he consigns many shirts for local vendors, so it wasn’t unusual that Kyle Holub came into his shop a little over a week ago with a shirt he was looking to sell.
“He came in and unfolded the T-shirt and I saw the design on it and kind of just smiled because I knew exactly what it was,” Anglin said.
It was a design on a black back ground with a red heart, containing white Arabic writing which translates to: “love for everyone.”
That same design hung from Citizens Tower in February.
On the day the banner appeared on Citizens Tower, prior to knowing what the message of the flag translated to, Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson sent an email to the city manager requesting that the flag be removed immediately and that agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and FBI be notified.
Anglin admitted that when he first heard about the flag, he wasn’t sure what to think.
“I heard a quote one time that says,”ignorance is not an excuse for fear,”‘ Anglin said. “My goal was to figure out what it said first. Obviously there was a heart behind the message– literally– so I thought it’s gotta say something about love. What does it say? When I figured out it said love for everyone, I thought that’s a cool message.”
Lubbock Police arrested 22 year old Kyle Alexander Holub for criminal trespassing in the unauthorized installation of the banner onto Citizens Tower. While his banner is no longer flying, Holub has moved on to a new venture: selling his design on T-shirts. Anglin said that on the day Holub came into the shop, he brought in 11 shirts to sell and that 10 of those shirts were sold on that day alone. Now Culture Clothing plans to continue carrying the shirts for as long as people continue to buy them; Holub plans to bring in another shipment of shirts this upcoming week.
“Everyone deserves love, so what better way to express that than to show that on your T-shirt,” said Farah Mechref, a Texas Tech student who is not only fluent in Arabic, but also earning a minor in the language. “Showing [the message] in a language that not only is complicated and is extensive but also has words of love and messages of peace.”
Mechref explained that the initial controversy surrounding Holub’s banner on Citizens Tower is one of many examples of misconceptions about the Arabic language.
“People are seeing in the media, on the news, pictures of ISIS and pictures of black flags with Arabic writing on it,” she said. “So theres this kind of a direct sense that this is what this means, this is what’s happening, it’s a form of terrorism.”
She hopes these shirts help start a conversation in Lubbock about removing the negative connotations sometimes associated with the Arabic language.
“I think what this person is trying to do by putting this message on a T-shirt in Arabic is trying to spread the word of love and spreading the message of peace. And that’ s exactly what we as citizens of Lubbock– and especially in the Arab and in the Muslim community– have been trying to tell people for a long time,” she said. “That’s the message that we’ve been trying to relay: that we’re here, we’re peaceful, and we’re loving.”
EverythingLubbock.com asked Mayor Robertson about his opinion of these shirts on Sunday, he replied, “the business has a First Amendment right to print and sell the T-shirts, this time criminal trespass is not involved.”
“It’s an awesome idea, first of all that person has every single right to distribute those T-shirts because it’s their own freedom of expression and freedom of speech,” Mechref said. “And second of all the fact that he’s wanting to spread the words and spread the message that love is for all and especially in Arabic writing is exactly what this community needs.”
Anglin thinks that these new shirts will be a great conversation starter.
“It was an honor to get to be a part of the project, I love the message behind it,” he said.”I love that we can be the locally owned shop that sells this kind of viral message that happens in the Lubbock community.”
“I’m going to buy a couple as well,” Mechref said. “I feel like people in my classes are gonna wanna go as well and share the message of love.”
Culture Clothing added that the shirts sell for $24 and a majority of that money goes directly back to Holub.