Georgia State student wishes to bring BLM to the bookstore

As the Black Lives Matter movement remains at the social forefront, the Georgia State football team showcased a logo that combined the Georgia State Panther with black and white text reading “Black Lives Matter.”

Sophomore Ethan Garner transposed the logo onto sweatshirts and masks, shown on blue and black material, and posted his prototypes onto Twitter. In three days, his post gathered more than 2,000 likes and almost 100 comments expressing interest in buying his product.

When Garner stumbled across the photo posted by the football team, he was inspired to create BLM products for the Georgia State community. 

“I noticed the graphic on the Jumbotron and thought it would look kind of cool on a hoodie,” he said. “So, I decided to mock up what some potential merch could look like, and the student body seems to love it.”

Student support and responses on Twitter prompted Garner to contact Georgia State Public Relations and Marketing Communications to propose working together to make the prototypes a reality. 

But where there is support, criticism is always nearby. 

Early into his social media hype, Garner encountered a few Georgia State students who disagreed with putting “Black Lives Matter” on Georgia State merchandise, given the university’s complex relationship with race.

Dissenting opinions mentioned the university’s decision to completely close off Hurt Park, leaving the homeless population near the downtown campus, most of whom are Black, unsure of where to go. One student expressed in a tweet that the merchandise was lazily placing “Black Lives Matter” on products affiliated with an “institution that clearly does not value Black lives.”

In response, Garner explained that if the university chose his designs and sold the product for profit, he wanted a percentage of proceeds to aid downtown’s Black and minority communities. This would include students who attend Georgia State.

Garner believed the university’s decision to adopt his merchandise would solidify the university’s stance in their support for racial equality and uphold the standards of the Task Force for Racial Equality. Georgia State started the task force over the summer in response to Black Lives Matter protests across the country.

“The [university] has talked about the Task Force for Racial Equality, but this is a way for the university to align with what the task force is intended for,” he said. “This makes Georgia State take a stance that is more than just words; now it becomes action.”

Ultimately, Senior Associate Athletic Director Brian Kelly responded to Garner stating that Georgia State decided not to license the logo to Garner. The email expressed their appreciation for Garner’s passion to “increase awareness,” but the logo was created internally for usage exclusively by the football team to “express themselves.”

Despite this roadblock, Garner created a petition that calls on the university to sell his merchandise in the University Bookstore. Garner does not plan to stop pushing for Georgia State to one day have Black Lives Matter merchandise officially on the racks of the bookstore.

“Hopefully, they will change their mind,” he said.