On Monday, Nike shocked many fans as the company announced that Colin Kaepernick is one of the athletes helping commemorate the 30th anniversary of the brand’s iconic slogan #JUSTDOIT. Kaepernick has made headlines since 2016 when he refused to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game, initiating a wave of backlash along with similar protests. The “Just Do It” campaign, which originated in 1988 was highly successful and landed one of the top two taglines of the 20th century. It represents the former San Francisco player perfectly. When it came time to take action against injustice, Kaepernick just did it.
As a result of his decision to protest police violence against black Americans, the free agent was voted the most disliked NFL player. Kaepernick vowed to continue the protest until he felt that the American flag truly represented what it stood for.
Protesting helps drive narratives and plays a major role in the political, civil, social, economic, and cultural life of all societies. While many criticize the demonstrators as wasting time or whining about non-existent problems, the issues are very real to those affected who often feel the sting of these issues on a daily basis. Protests have always played an important part in the fiber of America. When explaining the choice to kneel, Kaepernick said:
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.
Many have spoken negatively concerning the many protests that have taken place in recent history. From the Black Lives Matter movement to NFL fans who are choosing to forego their favorite sport, protests have been a constant companion in today’s society. The day these open declarations cease, Americans will have lost their will to fight, a desire to progress and the power of their united voices. To this wise, Kaepernick just did it. When speaking of the current outcry against Nike, Early Jackson, a U.S. Veteran, said:
Just for clarity, Kaepernick’s protest, which is his 1st amendment right (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances) is not against our flag, national anthem or America. His protest is one that is meant to bring to light what he feels is unfair treatment in many cases to African American men and their interaction with the police. Some have gotten way off target with his initial expression. It isn’t against America, just against the treatment of some in America. As an African-American that served too, it has always been interesting to see photos from the early 70’s of flags being ripped from other black’s hands…then fast forward a few years and folks are outraged because the same fervor for things patriotic aren’t fully embraced. I am both patriotic but well aware of how imbalanced our imperfect country can be at times.
The ad drawing the current backlash is a black-and-white close-up of Kaepernick’s face with the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This, of course, is referring to the former 49ers lawsuit against the NFL for allegedly colluding to keep the quarterback out of the league due to his protests against police brutality, people are destroying their Nike apparel and declaring a moral boycott over sneakers they have already purchased — all in the name of denouncing Colin Kaepernick.
This behavior seems to confirm that Kaepernick is not the only one who knows how to play the game. Nike has chosen to play and go for the win. The shoe company made a public promise to support justice and liberty for all. Nike’s strategic decision to put Kaepernick at the center of its latest ad campaign has infuriated fans, aggravated NFL employees, and even affected the sneaker giant’s stock. Against all odds, Nike took a stand and social media lit up with excitement.
Despite being called a traitor, receiving death threats, and being accused of the significant drop in NFL television ratings, Colin Kaepernick just did it! He became the face of justice, hope and Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign. Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Vox: Why the social media boycott over Colin Kaepernick is a win for Nike
Fox News: Backlash after Nike signs new deal with Colin Kaepernick
Hype Beast: Nike’s Slogan “Just Do It” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
Top Image Courtesy of Twitter: Kaepernick’s Nike ad. – Colin Kaepernick and Nike
Inline Image Courtesy of Prachatai’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Quince Media’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License