Morrissey Pulls Controversial 'Black Is How I Feel on the Inside' T-shirt
Throughout his 40-year career in the music industry, Morrissey has garnered ample praise for his cerebral and emotional tunes, first as the front man for The Smiths and, for the last three decades, as a solo artist. Given his frequent lack of a filter outside of recording studios, he has courted considerable controversy, too, and recently received rebuke over the placement of writer James Baldwin’s face on a T-shirt that includes lyrics from The Smiths’ “Unloveable.”
The track, which appeared on two 1987-issued compilation albums, finds the English singer declaring “I wear black on the outside/’Cause black is how I feel on the inside.” A typically moody utterance from the now-57-year-old, it appears on the T-shirt wrapped around the head of Baldwin, with “Morrissey” emblazoned on the left shoulder of the acclaimed writer and social activist. While the musician has long revered the deceased figure, having, according to Pitchfork, given him mentions in his autobiography and projected video of him during tour shows, the decision to combine “black” as a commentary on his internal state with a picture of an African American has led many observers to chastise Morrissey, with many contending he is trying to equate his emotional difficulties with the struggle that Baldwin encountered as a black man.
Morrissey has not commented on the juxtaposition or the presumption that the item reveals racist tendencies, but Twitter abounds with profane and slightly more reserved critiques of the union, including this reaction from Boston Globe reporter Astead W. Herndon:
there's a critical difference between Baldwin and Morrissey hmmm can't put my finger on it https://t.co/hOA37ElWie
— Astead W. Herndon (@AsteadWH) March 16, 2017
The backlash coincides with news that a biopic on the singer, famous for such songs as “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get,” “Suedehead” and “Everyday Is Like Sunday,” will go by the name “England Is Mine,” a sentiment expressed in The Smiths’ “Still Ill.” The film has no announced release date, but fans and critics alike have Morrissey’s tour to look forward to or dread.
The nine-stop journey opens March 29 in Monterrey and will include five dates in the United States, with California, Arizona and Texas as the host locations. The stops, however, will not give concertgoers an opportunity to purchase the shirt, as it no longer appears on either of his American or United Kingdom merchandise website.