Three young women faced every daughter’s nightmare when their mother passed away from cancer. Before her passing, her children, Makia Underwood, 32, Zakia Clark, 29, and Tasha Clark, 27, began to wear hats and shirts that read “F— Cancer.” The “C” in “F—” is replaced by a breast cancer awareness ribbon. It was their way of addressing a disease that they watched steal their mother from them. “That’s how we feel,” Zakia Clark told Philly.com. “It took our mom away. It’s a demon. It’s the devil. There are no other words you can use to explain how you feel. You want cancer to get cancer and die.”

Their passionate stance against cancer got them in trouble. Zakia and Tasha were kicked out of King of Prussia Mall for wearing their “F— Cancer” hats last Sunday.

Philly.com reports:

The ladies had just sat down when a security guard approached them and, without a greeting, ordered: “‘Take your hats off.” Zakia took hers off, but Tasha, who once worked at the mall, told the guard she wanted to see something in writing. It was almost as if Tasha were channeling their mother’s strong spirit, Zakia said, and it inspired her to put her own hat back on.

“He said, ‘Since you don’t want to take your hat off, you can leave my mall,” Zakia recalled. “He stood there while we ate and threatened to call the cops.” [...] As the group was escorted to the mall office, Makia called and met up with them. Once they got to the office, the women were met by an Upper Merion Township police officer, who had been called to the mall by security guards.

“The officer said, ‘I find it offensive that you even have that hat that says ‘F— CANCER,’ ” Zakia said. “He said, ‘It’s their mall, they want you out, you have to get out.’ The women were escorted out, and two security cars were waiting for them at their car just to make sure they left, Zakia said.”

When news outlets began looking into the incident, a spokesman for the company that owns King of Prussia Mall, Les Morris, called Zakia to apologize.

He told the People Paper: “Certainly this could have been handled in a much more empathic and sensitive manner. We’re very sorry about her loss and wanted to apologize for the way her party was treated.”

He added: “I do think this is an entirely different situation than a 16-year-old kid with a swear word on his T-shirt cruising the mall. We need to be empathic, sympathetic, and listen and make sure that we’re approaching each situation as it comes up.”

Zakia accepted Morris’ apology and in good faith, the daughters changing a planned protest at the mall entrance into an awareness rally about cancer.

What are your thoughts on the incident, Clutchettes?


  • http://www.facebook.com/kelley.johnson.75436 Kelley Johnson

    If you wear a shirt with the F word on it at the mall, you’re probably gonna get kicked out. How about “Fight Cancer” instead.

  • talaktochoba

    these daughters should give some of their caps to white girlfriends to wear in the mall;

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    Since the hats didn’t actually say the word, I think it was reasonable for them to be wearing them. I also think the security guard should have handled it in a more professional way. You can catch more flies with honey, ykwim?

  • http://theunsungstoryteller.tumblr.com TheMuseintheMirror

    Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Especially when it comes to something like that….

  • Anthony

    They could have made their point without referencing the F-word. If the mall has a policy against profanity, it was just enforcing it.

  • B

    The First Amendment applies to the government — to protect individuals from government censorship. While the text of the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” it means that no federal, state or local government official can infringe on your free-speech rights. A private company ( mall) is not a government or state and therefore generally is not subject to the requirements of the First Amendment.

  • naan

    just because you have a “good message” it does not mean suddenly it’s okay to get foul.

    even places of worship have gotten like this, unfortunately. i no longer attend a particular place of worship because of such rhetoric.

  • talaktochoba

    that is a disingenuous, Republican-like half reply;

    the mall may be owned privately, but it serves as a public venue where there is public discourse, public interaction and public expenditure; in other words, the people who go there are NOT part of some private club with like ideals, beliefs and codes;

    in public places, therefore, the rights of citizenship cannot be denied or even abridged of any one citizen simply because another citizen disagrees with them, however much money or ownership that disagreeing citizen may have;

    try boning up a little on constitutional law prior to future comments on the Bill of Rights…

  • RenJennM

    I like the message. “F__ Cancer”. It’s how they felt and it’s straight to the point. I personally don’t see a problem with it, f-word or not. If the mall has a rule against clothing with profanity on it, technically, the whole word isn’t spelled out.

  • Mark

    The best thing that could have happened was to kick them out. They could of just removed them but were not realistic. King of Prussia Mall good for you for sticking up for the Family friendly atmosphere. If it isn’t that bad why does most of the media blurr it out?

  • Naima

    he was offended that they had a hat that says fuck cancer? what?
    so does he have a particular soft spot for cancer? i’m confused
    if it just said Fuck okay i get it but i feel like the word Cancer part afterword shouldve…. never mind why am i trying to rationalize this

  • ToyaTavia

    I’m just going to go ahead and ask if the 3rd daughter was unavailable for the picture why there is a man instead of the 3rd daughter…

  • Kaeli

    Clearly you don’t have a good understanding of the first amendment. It isn’t about it being a public space. The first amendment protects citizens from being arrested or prosecuted for speaking freely. It doesn’t say you can say whatever you want whenever in public. If I own a business and you come in cursing or yelling, I can kick you out. The police cannot arrest you but I don’t have to let you stay. Same principle here. Private business they set the rules.

  • Tsaun

    It did not actually have the word the “C” was replaced with the symbol….

  • Tsaun

    Wow! My thoughts exactly. Something tells me the outcome would not be the same. Smh….

  • talaktochoba

    sorry, but provocative speech does not qualify another to infringe upon it in a public place–and last time i checked a mall is most assuredly a public place;

    as to yelling and cursing in a restaurant, while in and of itself it is no threat to others, such conduct can scrape by the litmus test by being interpreted as attempting to provoke an unsafe reaction, as in causing a riot or brawl;

    merely wearing apparel that may or may not contain offensive material does not qualify, unless that material can be readily demonstrated as attempting to provoke a response from others that would endanger the general safety of all;

    “F*ck Cancer” does not at all qualify as speech attempting to provoke a dangerous response from another group, unless “cancers” were present;

    had a racial or cultural epithet been used in place of cancer, that would’ve been a different thing;

    that was the lesson the Klan was made to learn, if you at all read your history books since you completely ignored the law books–which is why the Klan had to change its signs and placards to merely promote one racial minority with no mention of any others;

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Right! I think people want to be offended just to be offended these days personally I see no problem with the shirt, cancer is a beast and sometimes you just want to say f*** it. Hell I remember after Hurricane Katrina tons of people had F*** Katrina or Katrina…that b*tch shirt on (and the words wasn’t blurted out) so it really depends on perspective. Personally, I think their shirt’s design is clever and I can see it being profitable.

  • http://gravatar.com/keimia Kam

    “King of Prussia Mall” <– Rich White Folk Mall. King of Prussia is a rich area. That's what you need to know. They fight hard to keep the "riff raff" out.

    Anyway the phrase "Fu*k Cancer" has become a bit popular and you can buy merchandise with the name, join groups, go to supporting events with the name. It's a bold statement for sure, but the shirts don't even spell it out.

  • Get to the Choppa

    @B, your absolutely correct with assestment of the First Amendment.

  • victoria

    It’s not appropriate in a mall b/c they are frequented by families and children.

  • L

    While the shirt is definitely not something i would wear, i don’t think that should prevent someone from expressing their style/feelings. I’ve seen shirts with weed symbols, “money, sex, drugs” listed bodly, offensive political shirts and more.

    Aside from thier right to wear the shirt, they might want to think of what that message is really conveying. they can wear the shirts all they want but the message really doesn’t motivate people struggling with cancer. it just creates anger toward the disease. IJS

  • Vanderboom

    Yeah, but if it was official mall policy, then they should have been able to Tasha the policy in writing when she asked to see it.

  • PrincessDi

    Ugh…I am not surprise. I live near that area and KOP Mall is racist as hell. The mall is extremely popular and I remember them banning SEPTA (Philly area regional trains) from building a stop there because they didn’t want “lower-class” people visiting the mall. It was only when someone was killed walking from a bus stop to the mall, that they relented.

  • PrincessDi

    I don’t understand why these particular posts are being down-voted. Are we amongst cancer-sympathizers or pro-cancer activists?

  • TC

    I’m not a fan of how the message is conveyed personally but the security guard should have just did his job based on the mall’s policy vs. any personal offense he had as it relates to the wording. I remember there being a no hoodie rule and my daughter having a hoodie on, due to the cold but was approached to remove it as if she planned on doing something wrong. We can respect your policy if you approach us respectfully but you give attitude you’re going to get it right back.

  • http://gravatar.com/yesimthatleah Yes, I’m That Leah

    The officer gave attitude. If he had shown more sympathy to begin with, it would have made things a lot more easy. Anyway, the hats are offensive in a place of business…..they should have known that.

  • B

    @ talaktochoba

    The issue of FOS and shopping malls have been litigated in several times (Marsh v. Alabama, Amalgamated Food Employees Union v. Logan Valley Plaza, Hudgens v. NLRB, Pruneyard v. Robins).

    You are making a complete fool out of yourself. It’s really a shame that you have constitutional rights that you don’t even understand. There are limits to free speech.
    . Listen, just because a business serves the public doesn’t make it a PUBLIC space. They have a right to set perimeters in which you can access their establishment. Malls are private property, and our constitutional rights are triggered only when the government (and not a private citizen) tries to limit our freedoms.. Hudgens v. NLRB,a 1976 case held that the First Amendment guarantees no free speech rights in private shopping centers.
    You aren’t too bright

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    they don’t want me there, i don’t shop there…..

  • http://twitter.com/spelledwitha_k The Real McKoy

    I think cancer is more offensive than any four letter word. And if a parent had any issue with the hat’s design, they could have engaged the trio in a conversation about it rather than get all huffy about it. People get offended over the littlest thing no matter what the context or reasoning behind said “offense”. You can be offended by anything you allow to offend you, but unless you are willing to open a dialog, it’s probably best to get offended for a few minutes and then let it go, depending on the level of offensiveness. If the shirts said “F— P—y”, then offense is warranted, but “F— Cancer” is actually a positive message. Besides, it’s not like children aren’t already hearing swear words in the media, in their schools, in the home, in life. Didn’t Britney Spears teach you anything? Children aren’t that innocent.

  • au napptural

    Right! I remember those Wilma shirts that said b!tch in Miami (that was one of our big hurricanes). My mom, who is a deaconness and doesn’t even like to say hell, laughed and said that was exactly how she felt. Shoot, after no power for damn near three weeks and the tree that fell on our house, I was with her. I can’t imagine if my mother actually died from cancer, or anything else. I’d probably have fcuk cancer tattooed on my arm.

  • Kaeli

    Sorry but there is nothing positive about saying “F— Cancer”. A positive message would be “End Cancer” or something related to surviving cancer. A positive message is one that promotes a cause. All I get from this message is hate and anger. In the long term neither hate or anger will do anything to end cancer. Words are powerful and while no one is happy about cancer, I think it is best to always approach things from a positive place. So I just can’t see what is positive about this message. Think about the idea of being “For Peace” vs “Anti-War”. I rather stay on the side of positive and uplifting words.

  • jax

    I too lost my dear mother to cancer. Wish I had that shirt because that’s exactly how I feel.

  • B

    Why do people think you have a right to go into a private business and tell them what YOU will and won’t do? Honestly, there are quite a few Americans who don’t know where their rights end and others’ rights begin.If you ask me, the First Amendment is misunderstood. I don’t think many have actually read it. Private businesses have a lot of discretion in what they will and will not allow to happen in their establishments. It is not reasonable for every business to list every single thing that is or is not allowed. Private entities and private spaces, however, are largely not required to protect your speech. You have the right to say what you want, but you don’t have the right to do so in someone’s private establishment. Private sectors are not required to provide you a forum to exercise your free speech. Businesses have a right to ask you to conform to their rules and if not you can be asked to leave. In others words, you don’t have the right to do whatever you want in MY HOUSE and I am under no obligation to provide you with such accommodations. Nor am I required to foreshadow every action that might occur. Whether you are personally offended is moot. They had choices. Keep the hat on and leave. Remove the hat and stay. I really don’t understand the sense of entitlement. We are taking about people wearing F@ck apparel.

  • DC

    A lot of up tight adults are upset when they see that word on the shirt,but if the same adults opened their eyes a lot of store in the mall sell offensive slogans on a clothes.

  • talaktochoba

    and why do people think just because you walk in somebody’s door they have a right to redefine/abrogate/extinguish the rights you are entitled to as an individual under the Constitution?

    obviously we are speaking of people a lifetime away from back-of-the-bus, eating at lunch counters and freedom rides;

    sorry, but malls are no different than Trailways buses, sit down restaurants with no hamburgers or fries on the menu and golf courses;

    “f@ck” IS NOT a so-called “foul” word, no matter what the implication anyone chooses to apply;

    it i hold up three fingers and one happens to be the middle finger, what can you infer?

    the answer is whatever you wish, but your inference does not make it so–and the same is true in this case;

    1) there was an assumption made by the mall, based on its own interpretation;
    2) action was taken against individuals with no notice of any supposed rules or regulations beforehand;
    3) said individuals were in no way conducting themselves in a manner that posed a threat to anyone or any property;
    4) no evidence has been presented that there were no other like actions taken against any other individuals in the mall, or record of even a sweep to see were there any other individuals wearing anything deemed meeting said assumption;

    i doubt at all the mall police removed or even checked that day to see were anyone wearing a T-shirt saying “sh*t happens” nor any of the other racier colloquialisms currently in fashion;

    despite the assertions of Choppa and the legion of neo-con library lawyers here, entering a mall does not one bit sacrifice one’s entitlements under the Bill of Rights;

    i could go down to the local college law library and dredge up any number of obscure cases to refute those listed, but that is a semantic dead end most courts won’t waste a great deal of time going down the road of–that semantic argument is the dead giveaway sign of someone whose spent no more time in a courtroom than Justice Clarence Uncle Thomas…

    that mall was completely and unequivocably wrong in its actions and hopefully will be held accountable;

  • http://gravatar.com/andreamack andrea

    I once worked at KOP and a white co-worker of mine showed up on Halloween in a super hero costumes. This was in high school and it was her day off. Her and her friends were asked to leave the mall.

  • Shirl

    Good point

  • iminyjo

    Tell that to the members of ACT-UP in the 80′s who got angry and hated the HIV/AIDS virus and the way people (particularly at that time- gays) that were infected were being treated and decided to do something about it. Like get out there in the street with provocative t-shirts and signs that were a call to action.

  • talaktochoba

    no, Choppa, i guess i’m not so bright as you to spend my days in the law library dredging up cases that support my stance whilst overlooking those that entirely contravene it;

    however, we’re i to litigate this case rest assured i’d make a point to dredge up and equal number of cases supporting my contention to make your argument semantic so any judge would quickly tire of the “he said-she said” aspect of it;

    then the case would boil down to presentation, and your precious law library skills would be of little use to you then, sahib;

  • talaktochoba

    booyah, as you like to call yourself, until you’ve outrun police dogs back to your car or up a tree, survived being surrounded by the Klan miles from home, and outrun a gauntlet of brick throwing parents back to your bus your first day of second grade, you really should be careful who you call a moron;

    the N-word is the vilest, evilest, most despicable, dehumanising, degrading in any lexicon ever because that is exactly what is was deigned and meant to be from its inception;

    just as it’s impossible to dress up Nazi, pedophile, genocide, sociopath and a host of other lesser words, there is simply no way to decorate or dress up this word because it was designed to defeat any and all attempts to do so;

    yes, our grandmothers always told us when life gives you lemons make lemonade, but they also said you can’t make sugar out of s**t;

    I’ve had enough of it thrown at me and left in my school lockers to know it when i smell it, and in the case of the antics of this mall, i can smell it all the way down here in Louisiana;

  • talaktochoba

    booyah, you mean like how crime creeper up into Newtown, or up Behring Gabby Gifford’s or into a movie theatre in Colorado?

    apparently you find that level of crime acceptable because it didn’t come from the poorer, “lesser” elements on public transportation;

    you must be one of those black Republicans we keep hearing about–didn’t get your invite to CPAC this year?

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