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Nike does not care about black people. Repeat it with me. Nike does not care about black people.
As, I’m sure you have heard. Early last week, Nikeunveiled their new ad campaign partnership with Colin Kaepernick.
If you remember, Kap is the NFL players who started the #takeaknee campaign and royally PO’d MAGA fans across the Globe. So, naturally, when Nike unveiled their new campaign, MAGA fans had a huh-UGE white tear meltdown.
|Photo used from Google Photos
With some threatening to run to Converse…which is Nikeowned. But whatever. (I’m not going to tell them that).
Basically, a lot of ‘very fine American’s’ have lost their minds. And also, basically, a lot of ‘good people on both sides’ are convinced that Nike is Jesus Incarnate.
I am going to suggest that Nike isn’t doing this because they care or support black and brown people. It’s because they are a corporation that hops on whatever political wave is happening to make money off of it. It’s like that one farm that I drive by every day on my way to work that flies a Confederate flag 9 months of the year except for when they put out their farm stand…then they put out flowers and an American flag.
Likewise, Nike is in this for the money. Do you really think they care about black and brown people? If they were, let us see them pull out of all the NFL deals. Or maybe at least stop depending on child and slave labor to create their products.
And yet, by using Kap as the face of their ‘humanitarian activism’ not only can they divert attention away from anti-sweatshop protests but they can also refocus it on ‘very fine people’ burning shoes.
To quote from today’s OP Ed, ‘Just Don’t Do It’ in the Daily Missisippian by Jas Brisack, “by adding the face of an internationally respected activist to its advertisements, Nike is trying to convince the very people most likely to have boycotted its products in the past to go out and buy new ones, instead.”
This idea of “corporate co-optation of progressive movements is nothing new.” And, yet, co-optation tactics remain effective because the public is willing to remain ignorant and complicit.
When we see Nike elevating Kap, we don’t want to ask questions. We don’t want to investigate because we see a white owned company ‘empowering’ a black man.
Intersectionality requires intentional commitment, that tireless tenacity, towards purging ourselves of that pleasant urge to remain willfully ignorant.
I know that some people talk about what a big risk it was for Nike to be able to do this, but where was the risk? Nike is a 36.4-billion dollar company. When the shoe-burning crazies were at their worst, Nike’s market cap lost 3.75 billion dollars but within days had regained what it lost. Is the risk that they took a famous person, made some cute ads and put a caption over his face? This only completed what? Making sure that the people who hate Kap don’t support him?
I know that there is this knee jerk reaction that black people everywhere should be grateful to Nike for this ‘win.’ But, I guess I don’t really understand why. Have you seen a Nike Executive at your local Black Lives Matter Chapter? Or, are you still seeing overpriced shoes? Have you seen Chinese sweat shops starting to close or better wages?
So just do it.
And wake the Kap up.