Colin Kaepernick has been included in the thirty-year anniversary of Nike’s Just Do It campaign.
His simple black and white photo will be included in this campaign with a reflective quote indicative of the stance Colin Kaepernick has towards social justice:
Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.
As of January 2018, Nike is a $30 billion company! Nike has lucrative contracts with the NFL for both workout and licensed team apparel. This week on the ESPN show Skip And Shannon: Undisputed, Hall of Fame NFL player, Shannon Sharpe, said Nike did this to “be on the right side of history.” I agree.
This stance by a formidable, recognizable global juggernaut like Nike to understand why Colin Kaepernick is protesting is reassuring to those involved in social justice work. Having this company see his protest not as a disrespect to a flag, but an alert to the state of the nation when better than half of the employees of the NFL are young, black and male. The same population affected disproportionally by police ‘fearing for their lives.’
In his book How Not To Get Shot (And Other Advice From White People), D.L. Hughley confronts this intersection of being black and an athlete. He said the same thing which will make a young man formidable, desired and engaging on the field gets him targeted off the field: being black with imposing physical stature and fast.
This is on the heels of documentation, now public, that the NFL had participated in a blackballing of Colin Kaepernick, and his lawyer Mark Geragos saying, “Colin Kaepernick is not going away.”
Indeed, Kaepernick is not going away.
After the announcement the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ERs, would be a part of this campaign announced September 3rd, Colin is no longer invisible, he is no longer a pariah; he has what the NFL and a portion of its fan base despise: acknowledgment.
The fact there is an outside entity with just as much influence, presence, and money to align to any ideal, to support any purpose, how interesting it is they choose someone who desires to bring attention to something the greater portion of the NFL ignores or blames the victims of these type of injustice!
Granting visibility to any minority grants them access and resources. If those resources can be given or allocated from those who have seen the merit of your struggle, this is the basis for victory.
How ironic this is the very thing the word Nike embodies–its meaning is victory!
Within 48 hours, people have cut the Nike swoosh from clothes, burning their Nike sneakers and swearing they will never buy anything else from Nike, and created the hashtag #NikeBoycott. However, the implications of what Nike has done assures the bell has been rung.
Colin Kaepernick, despite the best racist efforts from boardrooms, even The White House, for him to be seen as an aberration or a fly in the ointment, he is not being ignored.
It is the duo of acknowledgment and visibility which made the Civil Rights Movement as powerful as seen and recorded.
Going forward, there is another blueprint for those involved in activism. We see going forward, victories in social justice are multi-tiered. We see visibility is the oxygen to the fire of change. Visibility is what gives victory feet, wings and power: if you can see what is wrong, you can change what you see. Moreover, when someone in a position of power, whether it is a sitting President or President of a Fortune 500 company, sees what you are fighting for, and understands why you possess the depth of your commitment, you will rally others to your cause.
What is at the heart and underbelly of this situation, is why support took so long. The support of Colin Kaepernick should have been taken seriously and more garnered support sooner. He should have been rallied around sooner!
He was ignored, ostracized and shut out because there was no way the NFL — being a $2.3 billion entity — would be accused of being implicit to the plight of African-American men off the field–ergo, only being concerned about their employees only as commodities. However, this victory cannot be dismissed as trivial. Nike is synonymous with icons and cultural change. It was Nike that elevated Michael Jordan to the status he still enjoys. Nike granted this support, this visibility, this inclusion as calculated risk.
They knew what buzz it would cause; they knew how the media would react and how the country would react. Corporations only operate with the conscious and conscience of their leadership! There are movements for police reform gathering momentum; The Black Lives Matter movement continues to affirm the concerns, humanity and visibility for African-American people; victory is in sight because we are in sight!
African-American people are being seen. We are being seen, and acknowledged! The process of changing the world starts with acknowledging what is wrong; why its wrong; how can it change; where does the help come front to change it?
The fact Nike, socially speaking, has put their money where their mouths are, sets further precedent for high-profile activists. They waited to see if Colin would relent, if he were true to that which he dedicated himself. They tested him from afar like Branch Rickey did Jackie Robinson.
The future of this movement rests on the ability to commit and endure.
Just do it, indeed.