The Peripheralist

During Black History Month earlier this year, the New York City streetwear boutique Alife brought to market a limited set of six heather grey hooded sweatshirts made of heavyweight, pre-shrunk  fourteen-ounce cotton fleece, with ribbed cuffs and waist. The garments, whose sole decorative flourish were the names of black cultural icons — from Harriet Tubman to Marcus Garvey — screen-printed in sans-serif across the chest, retailed for $138 a pop and sold out promptly. Of the six men and women featured in the campaign, there was only one writer: James Baldwin. On Instagram, to promote its product, the brand deployed a short clip of Baldwin’s extraordinary debate against William F. Buckley, Jr., on the theme “Is the American Dream at the Price of the Negro?” at the Cambridge Union in 1965 — a grainy YouTube gem beloved by aficionados that was recently brought to mainstream attention in Raoul Peck’s documentary I

Thank you for reading!

To continue reading this article you must be a subscriber and be logged in to this site. If you already have a subscription, please log in now.