As the Post and Courier reported, Paul Chelmis and Jing Wen designed the “Wear Their Names” jewelry line which was named after the “Say Their Names” slogan used to bring awareness to the lives lost as a result of police brutality and racial injustice. Glass shards from riot sites were collected to create the jewelry and modeled after the likes of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tamir Rice.
The couple, who reportedly tried to “make something beautiful out of the rubble,” were criticized by social media users who questioned their intentions behind the jewelry line.
“This is disgusting. SHAME on Shanshui for exploiting Black death for commercial gain,” one tweet read. “No matter how much they donate, they stand to benefit financially and in other ways. This is reprehensible and offensive. This line needs to be pulled ASAP!!!”
Another user tweeted, “Why you cannot qualify your own advocacy? At it’s worse, this could be insidious capitalization and reinforcement of performative concern using ‘I didn’t know better’ as a shield. They could have asked Twitter and known better instantly. Never reopen http://shanshuistudio.com.”
“Just want to say we’ve heard the feedback from the community loud and clear and are taking it seriously. So sorry to those we offended or harmed,” read an online statement. “While our intentions were pure and we consulted with a wide variety of people before launching, it is clear that there are issues with the approach we took. Though we only wanted to honor the victim’s names and retell their story, we see now that using those names was inappropriate and in poor taste. The two of us started this project from a place of creativity and in good faith, with a sense of duty to do our part and help the movement by bringing funds and awareness — and through all the backlash we want to keep sight of that duty and move forward on the best path.”
The “Wear Their Names” creators shut down the Shan Shui website where the jewelry was being sold and deleted some of the related content on their Instagram account. Orders that were made before the site’s closure will be completed, and refunds and returns will be honored. Chelmis and Wen have not yet decided what to do with the profits made from previous sales.
“It seems a lot of confusion was based around the profits — some didn’t like the organization we chose, while others didn’t see that we were donating 100% of our profits, and others felt even then we were only doing it for credit,” they said in the statement. “… We want to make things right. Thank you for holding us accountable.”