A while back, while in Las Vegas, my wife Liz and I stopped in a great shop in one of the strip hotels called “Eataly.” It is a wonderful multifaceted festival of shops, and restaurants, with stations for meats and cheeses, all with a focus on Italian culture. We had a wonderful meal and then began to browse the Eataly shops. In one we found specialty tee shirts and ended up buying one that had the Eataly tag line, “Italians Are Everywhere.” The script is on the top and bottom of the front of the shirt with a classic Italian image of of a hand, with the thumb touching the index and middle finger. It is a great shirt and I have worn it now a couple of times getting interesting, positive reactions.
With some of the growing anti-immigration rhetoric today in America however, this shirt has made me think. I wonder how people would react if the shirt said “Jews Are Everywhere,” or “Mexicans Are Everywhere,” or “African Americans Are Everywhere.” Would there be a backlash? Would people react in positive or negative ways? Why is it that one group of people might be accepted, even with a silly Tee shirt saying, and another group of people vilified, or devalued.
In the end, this blog focuses on inclusive behaviors and hospitality of the greater culture towards uniqueness. If our culture begins to skew towards separation or superiority then clearly inclusion and full community engagement becomes more and more difficult. There is no question that the polarization and separation rhetoric we hear today can be at the root of reason why some sayings on tee shirts bring smiles, and others might cause fears.