‘I am the N-Word’: Student Entrepreneur Reverses Negative Stigmas with a T-shirt Line

By Adriana Cacciaguerra, Contributing Writer

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Montclair State student Jaylen Adams on his first interview for Code Blue Wear, a T-shirt line that he created. Photo Courtesy of JTG Film

Jaylen Adams, a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in business administration at Montclair State University, decided he was going to bring light to the “N” word.

It all started with Jaylen Adams’ father, Alonzo Adams who decided to start painting positive “N” words on a canvas.

“In society, the ‘N’ word is used in such a negative way,” said Alonzo Adams. “My goal was to show my family that the ‘N’ word can symbolize much more than what we are used to hearing it as.”

“It is no secret that the ‘N’ word has been seen as a negative word to call an individual, especially an individual of color,” said Jaylen Adams, echoing his father’s sentiments.

At a young age, students are taught not to refer to anyone as the offensive ‘N’ word.

“After seeing my father’s painting I thought to myself, ‘Why not start a T-shirt company and have the shirts say: “I am the ‘N’ word’?” exaplined Jaylen Adams. “People need to start giving the ‘N’ word a different reputation.”

And giving the “N” word a different definition is exactly what he did by writing positive words—such as “necessary,” “noble” and “natural”—on the tees in his line, Code Blue Wear.

Jaylen Adams started much more than a T-shirt company, he started a movement. Over the course of one year, 42 shirts have been sold. The movement has expanded much further than Montclair State University. Students from surrounding universities, such as New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, have bought Code Blue Wear shirts.

Logan Bell, a sophomore information technology major,
proudly represents Code Blue Wear.   Photo by   Adriana Cacciaguerra

“I wear my shirt proudly,” said Logan Bell, a 20-year-old sophomore at Montclair State studying information technology.

“The shirt is simple, “ Jaylen Adams explained. In large letters the T-shirt says, “I am the N-word,” however, the large letters are backed up by positive “N” words.

Jaylen Adams and his father customized the words on the shirt. David Harris, a graphic design student from Seton Hall University, designed the T- shirt. The T-shirts are proudly made in the USA, with all T-shirts manufactured in Miami, Florida and sold for $25. Ten percent of the profits is donated to Relay for Life, the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Adams and his Code Blue team are happy to announce that they now have a new line of shirts for women.

The women’s shirts say, “I am that B” in large letters and are backed up by positive “B” words.

“No lady should be called a bitch, nor should they think of themselves as one,” said Alonzo Adams. The shirt is designed to make them feel beautiful and be proud of being that “B.”

“The [women’s] T-shirts were recently launched last month, and sales are doing great,” Jaylen Adams said.

All of the T-shirts come in children’s sizes large and XL and adult sizes from x-small to XXL. As of now, the T-shirts come in black and white, but Jaylen Adams said they are working on more colors.What started out as an inspiration on canvas turned into a positive movement. “Our goal for this year is to inspire more people and sell our shirts internationally,” said Adams.

The shirts can be purchased on Codebluewear.com or via instagram @officialjaylenadams.

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