Taking a knee: How Colin Kaepernick started an NFL movement
Nike’s decision to pull a sneaker with the Betsy Ross flag at the request of Colin Kaepernick has social media in an uproar.
Political figures and pundits have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure at Nike’s decision to not release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike, which features an older version of the American flag with 13 stars arranged in a circle on the heel.
“It’s a good thing @Nike only wants to sell sneakers to people who hate the American flag.... @NFL #HappyFourth,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey took it a step further, announcing his decision to withdraw incentive dollars from a Nike manufacturing plant set to open in Phoenix. In a string of tweets, Ducey explained: “American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it.”
Others took the opportunity to announce their plans to boycott the brand now — to the amusement of some Nike supporters.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Kaepernick reached out to Nike with concerns about the flag’s “offensive” nature and “connection to an era of slavery.” The shoe was set to release on Monday and was already in the hands of retailers when Nike asked them to be returned without explanation, according to the report.
Despite the backlash, Kaepernick’s sentiments did have some support.
The president of the NAACP’s branch in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said the flag had been “appropriated by the so-called ‘Patriot Movement’ and other militia groups who are responding to America’s increasing diversity with opposition and racial supremacy” after a group of white students displayed the flag at a high school football game featuring predominantly black players.
Kaepernick first achieved national recognition in 2016 for protesting injustice during the National Anthem as the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. He hasn’t played since the end of the 2016-17 season and settled a grievance case against the NFL in February, claiming the owners colluded against him because of his activism. Kaepernick and Nike also received backlash after he was announced as the face of the brand’s 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign.