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Adrell Bullock grew up in violent and drug filled North Lawndale, which is located on the west side of Chicago, Ilinios, USA. At some point in his childhood, he could no longer play in his home’s front yard because his mother was afraid he would be hit by a stray bullet. His neighborhood parks were overrun with drug addicts. Bullock looked for a way out from the destructiveness of where he grew up. “I believed in a higher power. I was always praying to leave the violence and the ghetto,” he said.

 

His way out came through a scholarship that would take him to Wayland Academy, a college, preparatory, coed boarding school located in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, USA. Bullock continued to distance himself from his past neighborhood by attending Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA and graduating with a degree in history. About three years ago, an idea to design t-shirts that feature positive words of affirmation which pay tribute to his ethnic heritage came to him. “I’ve always been close to my heritage, and I love history. My mother pushed me to understand my culture and to respect my elders,” says Bullock. The money raised from his t-shirt sales go toward building methods of sustainable farming in communities that don’t have direct access to fresh, organic produce, like community gardens. “I would like the t-shirts to be an awareness piece that allow my community or tribe to pay homage to our ancestors while building a new future for its existing and upcoming generations,” explains Bullock. He hopes the t-shirts can be part of a solution to bring vibrancy and healthy foods to impoverished communities.

 

Bullock’s t-shirts remind the wearer, and anyone who sees it, to help create a better, positive world. Bullock believes that creation of healthier environments is not just for future generations, but also because it shows a respect for the legacy of our ancestors. “Think positive thoughts and positive things will happen. Don’t make excuses, but rely on a Higher Power,” he encourages. The ancestor line of his apparel pays tribute to those who were a part of the African Diaspora, but still strived for equality, peacefulness, and love for future generations. Bullock’s t-shirts send out messages of love because, “The minute you stop showing love, you become the opposite,” he insists. Bullock even signs his written messages with, “One Love,” which means that there are many people in the world, and we are all part of One Love.

 

Bullock has had some success with his t-shirt sales. He continues to strive to tell the stories of his people, while remaining positive about the future. He says his faith helps him through hard times, and helps him stay positive about the impact his t-shirt sales can make. For Bullock, his heritage, love, and reliance on a higher power run deep inside him. “To keep your self-esteem, you must know who you are. The Higher Power has a purpose for you on earth.”
Adrell Bullock’s tshirts can be purchased at www.wordsofaffirmation.org.

By Susanna Redmer

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