Rue La La "Our Race? Human." T-Shirt Fights Against Racism, But Some Don't Agree With Its Message

Rue La La is better known for its designer sales (what up, vintage Dior tote?) than its current events coverage, but yesterday, the flash-sale site shut down operations of all of its online boutiques to focus on one offering: a simple black cotton tee. Rue La La's "Our Race? Human." t-shirt (featuring a small Rue La La logo splashed across the back, because #branding) seeks to take a stand against racism.

The tee, a response to last week's heinous massacre in Charleston, North Carolina, is available in men's and women's sizes, and costs $25. According to the site, 100 percent of net proceeds goes toward "nonprofit organizations that help to bridge our racial divides," (Bustle has reached out to Rue La La for comment on which organizations specifically and will update if they respond) and it's also worth noting that the site, which typically charges nearly $10 for shipping, will ship the shirt for free.

UPDATE: A rep Rue La La has confirmed that these are YWCA's Stand Against Racism and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change

Rue La La, which is headquartered in Boston, also did something similar in April 2013 immediately following the Boston Marathon Bombing, when it shut down boutiques on the site and exclusively focused on selling tees, also black, with the words "Tough Proud Brave Free Boston" for $20. Proceeds for that t-shirt went to the Emergency Medicine Fund at Massachusetts General Hospital, where victims were being treated.

Rue La La posted the tee on Instagram yesterday:

CEO Steve Davis took to the site's blog to issue a statement about the shirt, explaining the company's stance on the shooting and its hopes for what the shirt can achieve.

Dear friends,At Rue, we speak loudly. Last week’s unfathomable act of violence during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the latest in a year filled with race-related escalations. We mourn the nine innocent lives lost in Charleston, as well as the victims of racial prejudice everywhere.For the rest of the day, Rue will be pausing business, closing all of our Boutiques, and only offering one specially designed T-shirt. This symbolic tee is a small way for us to speak up for the better world we need to create. All of the net proceeds from the sale of this T-shirt will be donated to nonprofit organizations that help to bridge our racial divides. Join us and take a stand for equality everywhere.

The blog post, signed by Davis, also prompts visitors to donate to YWCA’s Stand Against Racism and The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Certainly, the sentiment was right on — the move was designed to share values, raise awareness and promote discussion - as well as to raise money for the cause. (Although it's unclear how or where the money will go - perhaps to the two foundations mentioned in the blog post?) And by closing down the rest of the site, Rue La La forewent profits it could have made from the sales of items like Lagos jewelry, Louis Vuitton bags, and Hawaiian getaways.

UPDATE: A rep Rue La La has confirmed that these are YWCA's Stand Against Racism and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change

But as always, when a for-profit corporation gets involved in a cause that is already divisive, deep-rooted and touchy, the reactions are mixed — and passionately so. This case was no exception. The debate was raging on Rue La La's Twitter account, where commenters either loved the idea... or really, really didn't.

Personally, I think that the sentiment is there. The whole nation is pretty shaken up by this latest in a string of deadly hate crimes and racial divides, and Rue La La, and its CEO Steve Davis, are no exception. Foregoing profit and even absorbing the cost of shipping is also a step in the right direction. But in terms of actually making an impact, a quick and witty, we-are-one kumbaya blurb on a t-shirt still ignores the root of the issue, and does little to address the problem of racism or positively change the way Americans of all races relate to each other. And frankly, I'm not sure how donating profits from the tees — or any amount of money, really — will help "bridge racial divides".

So what do you think? Will Rue La La and it's statement-making t-shirt make an impact on the issue at large, or did they approach it all wrong?

Images: RueLaLa/Instagram