Denton group spreads icons to promote anti-racism
From what started as a red circle icon promoting anti-racism, has now shifted to a purple circle icon bringing awareness of racial “colorblindness.” Denton for Diversity was created by Samuel Escalante back in July 2017 after white supremacist propaganda was being pasted around Denton.
To counteract the white supremacy, Escalante, founder and operator of Denton for Diversity, created the “red circle” icon –– a circle with a thick red outline and inside the circle is a black clenched fist with different skin toned fingers and the words “Protect our city. No racism. No hate.”
After he posted the red circle icon on his social media page, other Dentonites began to use the icon as their profile picture(s). Shortly after, Denton for Diversity took off. T-shirts, stickers and pins with the icon were requested and Escalante gave the people of Denton what they wanted –– Denton for Diversity merch.
“On one such post, a manager at Aura offered to host the pins and stickers at their shop,” Escalante said. “I reached out to them and set up our partnership which continues to this day.”
Denton for Diversity has a display at Aura Coffee, located on west Hickory street, and sells the pins, stickers and shirts. Though, this is a local business, Escalante does not profit off of the items he sells.
All of the Denton for Diversity proceeds go to the North Texas Dream Team, an organization funding scholarships toward Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program renewals.
“Once I was set up at Aura, I decided I wanted the proceeds to go toward a good cause,” he said. “Since immigration is an issue dear to me, I decided to donate all proceeds above the cost of the items, to go toward scholarships for DACA renewals.”
Purple is the new thing for Denton for Diversity’s new icon which was created in reaction to “colorblind” comments people of color often hear.
“These comments, such as ‘I don't see color’ or ‘we're all just human,’ effectively minimize the particular ways in which race shapes the lives of racialized people of color,” he said.
Escalante said these types of comments are well-intentioned but they still ignore systematical racism and racial equality.
27-year-old Kelsey Trevino said she likes how Denton for Diversity is promoting awareness of the difference in opportunities people of color face.
“I like to believe best intent and that when people know better, they generally do better,” Trevino said. “It’s important to spread the message that not everyone’s experiences are universal and that a large amount of that has to do with race.”
The purple circle icon says “If you don't see color, you don't see me.” Escalante said the reception to the new icon has been “great.” With the icon being for people of color, he said white people have also taken a liking to it.
“I have gotten great reception from white Dentonites too, who have heard about colorblindness but who wish to learn more about how they may be better color-conscious allies or from folks who have not previously heard of the concept,” Escalante said.
Denton for Diversity follower Maritza Vega recently met Escalante earlier this year at Denton Arts and Music Awards and purchased a sticker. She first heard about it from seeing what she calls the “fist logo.”
Vega said she feels Denton for Diversity has made an impact in the Denton community and is growing because of all the local events Escalante attends.
“It’s really important to have outlets that sort of pioneer and lead discussions that are often ignored and swept under the rug,” the 25-year-old said. “Whether people agree or not it's nice know that there are discussions out here challenging, informing, and educating minds.”
Vega said she often gets told Denton is a “liberal” and “diverse” community but she feels indifferent.
“I've had several people on their own accord come to me and share about how they were discriminated not just by the color of their skin, but also for their sexual orientation,” Vega said. “…It feels good when you're advocating, but even a little bit better when you discover someone else doing a similar thing in their own way.”
Recently, Denton for Diversity has collaborated with Spiderweb Salon and Regina Bugarin Booking (independent talent promoter) to tables at local shows. As well, he shared zines –– self-made work of original or appropriated text and images –– with the text “Black Lives Matter” and “Know Your Rights” printed on it.
“I am not sure what the future holds, but I hope that at the very least I can help Denton become a place that is both reflective of the boundless talent of the people of color who live here and unwelcoming of White supremacy in whatever form it may take,” Escalante said.
Header design by Clarissa Baniecki.