The company Nike is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. For thirty years, we’ve been lacing up their sneakers, pulling up their jogging shorts, and dressing ourselves up in the apparel and using the products of the brand. I have a pair of their gym shoes in my closet right now, as well as a pair of Nike sweatpants that I love to change into after a hard day of classes. Thirty years is a big accomplishment, so of course Nike wanted to do something special for this anniversary. What else than to do a campaign to commemorate the business being in existence for so long? Usually with a campaign, there’s always a face. Someone to represent the brand and all that it stands for. I don’t know anything about sports, but I know that there are countless sports players Nike could have chosen. Lebron James; arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. They could have gotten Laker’s wonder boy Lonzo Ball, or Lord forbid his Father. They could have gotten really anyone who has made news this year, but who would be appropriate to ring in Nike’s thirtieth year?
On Monday afternoon, former San Francisco 49er’s player Colin Kaepernick posted on his Twitter the ad that started a whirlwind of controversy, as if Kaepernick hasn’t had enough of it already. Nike had chosen him to be the face of the campaign.
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” is displayed in white words in front of a black and white image of Kaepernick gazing into the audience’s eyes. The picture is simple, and so is the quote. This quote is very compatible with what Colin is about.
In August 2016, Kaepernick was seen sitting down during the National Anthem. After being asked why he did what he did, he states, ” I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Even after that incident, the NFL released a statement recognizing that not all people want to participate in the National Anthem, and have the right not to. Kaepernick sitting out during the National Anthem, turned into him kneeling to show respect for the people of color who have fought and died for this country. He didn’t even have to do that! This began a grand controversy. Kaepernick continued to take a knee, and people began to impose their opinion on the situation.
More athletes began to follow suit, showing their support for Kaepernick’s plea, as well as what he stands for. During the National Anthem, Kaepernick’s former teammate Eric Reid joined him in his September 1st. Former Seattle Seahawk player Jeremy Lane sits out while everyone else stood for the Star Spangled Banner. From then on, other football players, basketball players, soccer players, even cheerleaders protested in solidarity with Kaepernick. It quickly spread to other walks of life. Students in marching bands were kneeling. Children would stay seated during the National Anthem when they would recite it in their schools. I went to a city school board meeting in the city of Charleston, Illinois, and when everyone stood for the National Anthem, I sat down and stared right at the mayor of the city. Savagery, right? I know, but this isn’t about me. With the support that was given to Kaepernick, the backlash was just as fast, if not more swift.
As of now, people are grabbing their Nike apparel and burning them. Literally igniting a fire on them. A video that I saw was of a man spraying lighter fluid on his white and black Nike sneakers and setting them ablaze. People are destroying their merchandise to try and stick it to Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Now, is Nike the most unproblematic company out there…no, but complaining over who they chose as the face of their 30th anniversary campaign really isn’t as important as people claim it is. I’ve been scrolling through my Twitter feed, and there is a mix of support and contempt. I was able to catch Trump’s Twitter comment, claiming that the stock and sales in Nike were dropping just like the ratings of the NFL.
Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!
8:39 AM – Sep 5, 2018
Donald J. Trump
If you can’t tell, Trump is not a big fan of Colin Kaepernick. I mean, he’s not a fan of people of color period, but he really has a problem with people who are against his policies. Trump, I will say, had a point. Nike shares were down about three percent Tuesday, but they are back up again today. With the numbers being shown, his WAY DOWN implication was highly exaggerated. So, as you may guess, Trump’s followers were not so happy with Colin’s stance either. And so Trump and his army spewed hatred and filth towards Colin, the NFL, any person who has kneeled to protest gun violence and police brutality, and anyone who agrees and stands with what Colin is doing. The main reason why people are upset with kneeling during the National Anthem is because they feel that it disrespects America, the people who fought for the country, and freedom, because that’s what America is supposed to be…the land of the free (that can be said easier for certain demographics more than others). In my opinion, that is further from the truth.
My Dad was a U.S Military Captain. He served in the military ever since he was eighteen years old. He was drafted in the Iraq-Afghanistan War and was stationed over there for three years. As a black man in America, my Dad has been pulled over the color of his skin. He’s been pulled over because he drives a Cadillac Escalade and, well, I guess black people can’t have those huh? He’s been spit on and called nigger and was told to go back to Africa by racists as he walked through certain areas of Illinois. But my Dad, an army veteran, and many other people’s family members, fought for the right for you to be able to stand during the National Anthem, but they also fought for the right to kneel. America is so free right, why aren’t people free to kneel? Kneeling not only respects someone like my Father and the brave, heroic efforts that he has made, but to acknowledge the fact that as a black man in America that American flag at first did not represent you, and until people of color are treated like human beings, it still doesn’t. That flag represents slavery. “That flag represents the pain and the turmoil that people of color have faced and will continue to face. American history for people of color hasn’t been that great to us. I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America. And to the Republic, for which it stands. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Liberty and justice for all huh? That’s a stretch. Was there liberty and justice for Trayvon Martin, or Eric Garner, or Freddie Gray, or Sandra Bland, or Aiyana Jones, or Tamir Rice, or all the other countless black and brown people in America who have been gunned down, attacked, or penalized for being people.
Let’s go over the Star Spangled Banner quickly shall we. Everyone knows (or thinks they know) the first part: oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, so on and so forth. Everyone usually recites the first stanza, but there are actually three more. I want to focus on the third stanza more so:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
First of all, Francis Scott Key (the writer of The National Anthem) was a defender of slavery. Let’s just put that out there. Slaves? Loved them, or having them I should say. He believed that black people were “inferior” and were untrustworthy. He was an attorney, and overthrew many cases created by abolitionists. You can read right there in the stanza posted above. “No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” When I read that part, the thought that no matter what any slave does, they are going to die. They cannot be saved. Dr. Jason Johnson, a MSNBC contributor and The Root writer and political editor, confirmed my suspicion. In his Root article Star Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem. With this article, he exposes Francis Scott Key and his background and his beliefs. He was opposed to the Colonial Marines, a battalion of runaway slaves who joined the British Royal Army in exchange for freedom. At the Battle of Bladenburg, Key’s was serving as a lieutenant. When him as his troops ran into a group of Colonial Marines, they were taken to a woodshed. He ran back home to Georgetown. The British troops then began to burn the Library of Congress, the Capitol Building and the White House. Key was not happy. Weeks later, in September of 1815, Key was on a British ship pleading for his friend, William Beanes, to be released. While on this boat, he was able to witness the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. This is when the third stanza of the Star Spangled Banner was written. This stanza is basically threatening the former black slaves that were with the British army in exchange for their freedom. The National Anthem never counted people of color.
To summarize basically everything I said in this article, burning your shoes, cutting the checks out of your shorts and throwing away your Nike water bottles won’t really do much. Nike knows what they’re doing with choosing Colin Kaepernick. Him and his protest are making a lot of prejudice and racist people uncomfortable, and this new campaign is definitely adding fuel to the fire.