Recently, Colin Kaepernick was showcased as the face of Nike in their ‘Just Do It’ campaign for the company’s 30th anniversary. It was a major win for Kaepernick as well as Nike in supporting the cry in the African American community for recognizing and bringing about social change due to the current racial and discriminatory practice of police abuse and racism disproportionately rendered against people of color by many law enforcement agencies.
If for no other reason, Nike has shown that it is cognizant and supportive of Colin Kaepernick’s stand to bring light on prevailing social injustices and abuses occurring to African Americans and people of color when so many other big companies and organizations have turned a blind eye. Unfortunately, it is not without consequences. There is a backlash of disgruntled Americans who feel betrayed by Nike and are opting to boycott the company by discarding all their Nike products, even to the degree of burning the Nike products they already possess in protest. This controversy has fueled a schism between supporters for Kaepernick and Nike and adversaries, unyielding in their dislike for Kaepernick.
It is a common belief among many that this hostile racial climate is fueled by President Trump and blatant racists in this country in their efforts to create a false narrative on the real issue concerning Black athletes kneeling during the national anthem. Time after time, it has been made known that this is not about disrespecting the flag and the numerous people who have fought for or are defending this country at any given time.
Kneeling during the national anthem is a peaceful way of bringing attention to the institutional racism and police brutality so prevalent in the lives of African Americans, especially young Black males. It is only by bringing this flagrant abuse to national attention that dialogue is forced. Hopefully it will bring about corrective changes. Are Blacks supposed to be quiet and submissive, hoping this brutal and abusive racism that so many of them are subjected to subsides and goes away?
There is a significant cry of foul play among many European Americans who feel any signs of disloyalty during the national anthem are unpatriotic and unacceptable. This rationalization can best be understood when one is made aware that European Americans inherently enjoy entitlements and privileges that are not privy to people of color.
Because of their reality, many Whites may feel the flag offers the same benefits to all Americans. There are also diehard racists, oblivious to the suffering of other races. At this point, it may not simply be about trying to change the minds of those who claim that kneeling is disrespectful to veterans and the flag. These critics are adamant in their position to refrain from being educated to truth and reason.
It is truly sad that we have a segment of the population indifferent and apathetic to the suffering and injustices occurring among people of color. They feel inconvenienced during public sporting venues when athletes symbolically try to morally address social issues by refusing to stand for the national anthem. By the same token, we can appreciate and respect the conscious sympathizers who understand one’s constitutional right to peacefully protest. These are observers who are coherent to the symbolic message by advocating needed changes. The mere fact that this topic has become a national conversation speaks of the huge racial divide in this country.
We can only honor and appreciate brave athletes such as Kaepernick, unselfishly using their national platform to bring attention to the plight of social and racial injustices occurring among people of color. We all know that Colin was aware of the consequences and retaliation he could suffer for his actions. However, morally, he was willing to make the sacrifice. That is why Colin Kaepernick has been catapulted to national and worldwide prominence as an individual willing to sacrifice everything for his moral convictions.
Nike, as a trailblazer in taking a controversial stance, is to be commended for supporting athletes like Colin.
One must understand that Nike is an international and global company. Disgruntled opposition by a segmented populace in the United States will not hurt the company in the long run when so many people see the true light and are literally making a beeline to purchase Nike products. Nike is to be commended for having the vision and insight to use Kaepernick in their ad campaign. Nonetheless, regardless of the entire negative backlash, Nike’s online sales have risen by 31% and are still rising.
Those seeking to boycott or hurt Nike, fail to understand that there are more people in the world cognizant of the true message that has been camouflaged and discredited by Trump and his faithful base who appear to be oblivious to the truth. It is apparent that many of those opposing Kaepernick or Nike are insensitive or apathetic to how others’ suffering may feel. In time, Kaepernick and Nike will be favored for being on the right side of history during this time of racial unrest. I can only hope that other big companies follow suit and fight social injustice. Thanks, Colin and Nike, for ‘Just Doing It.’