Lens Of the People By Treyvon Waddy

Good Afternoon, readers! Lens of The People is a column dedicated to the capture of the real-life scenarios and events of the local Houston area whilst also giving the thoughts and opinions of the Houston community itself its own voice to speak through.

With the Nike controversy regarding Colin Kaepernick’s commercial and stance towards racial equality, a thought that has occurred in my mind many times since is the necessity and overall effects of large and influential companies such as Nike taking political and social stances such as this. This one commercial alone gave different messages to different people, naturally with some believing that Nike is anti-American and supporting the disrespect of veterans based off of their own perceived notion of Colin Kaepernick, whereas others see Nike as proactive by taking a clear and definitive stance against racial inequality. And while the mass majority of those who have seen it seem to lean toward the latter, the fact that the commercial stirred up so much conversation and conflicting opinions, it makes me ponder the viability of big businesses and companies taking stances such as that, and whether it would be beneficial or not to America as a whole. That being said, the question of the week is: Are companies like Nike, who have so much social influence, taking social and political stances a good or bad thing?

I think it’s great on a number of levels for businesses to take a side on controversial issues. Socially, a business taking a stand on an issue creates conversation. Nike has over 80 million followers on Instagram, and the ad with Kaepernick has almost a million likes on Twitter, not to mention how many times it has been spread by other accounts. By bringing up the issue in such a widespread way, people are given an acceptable medium through which to voice their own issues and opinions. In the same way that a particularly horrifying massacre can galvanize gun control conversation and legislature, large companies can invite thoughtful, though often contentious conversation about key social issues.” – Daniel Stewart


I do believe that it’s a good thing for big companies to get involved in the way that Nike has. From what I’ve seen, Nike’s stock is at a record high for them because they chose to take the stance that they did in aligning themselves with Kaepernick. Especially considering that they’re a sports brand and the fact that Colin is an athlete just makes it make more sense. Of course, not everyone in their company likely agrees with the decision made, and by extension, the people of many large companies, but overall they’re still making money.” – Kennedy Hodges


“I think that every action has a reaction and that some actions come with sacrifice. But even still, many sacrifices are temporary and can lead to a greater good in the future. So companies like Nike might take a small hit as well as some backlash that can affect their credibility in the eyes of some, but people forget. But the bigger picture would be those who they’re acting and speaking up for because those are the people whose support will cause them to regain whatever popularity they might’ve lost from the outrage and then some, because to them as the targeted demographic, they’ll see the company as someone they can trust and will be there for them.” – Ashley Castillo


I think that it is a good thing for companies to take stances like that because for one, the Nike quote for example said something along the lines of ‘believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything’, and it shows that Nike as a large and very influential company is gonna stand up for what’s right, which not only shows their support for those who kneel and why they kneel, but also makes themselves more popular in the process because of how popular it was on Twitter. People who had never heard of Nike for whatever reason now know about them for better or worse, and in that sense no publicity is bad publicity if it gets people to talk. In the long run, it’s beneficial for social change and their business, so yes, I think it’s a good thing for businesses to take social stances like that.” Michelle Eze


“I would say it’s good because it’s a free market. It’s basically a company understanding what their target audience and morals are and in Nike’s case they probably took a look at both of those things and realized that even with the backlash they’d inevitably receive from certain groups, the audience that they’re targeting would more than make up for that. And it’s good for two reasons: one because it shows how much faith the company has in both its product and its consumers, and two because it puts their real and genuine thoughts out in the open which creates a feeling of trust between them and us.”– Mike Stanley


Photographer’s Thoughts

For me personally, I think the idea of large companies taking stances, both political and social would be a great thing, but I also believe that it would create a lot of discord and tension if they were to take stances as bold and clear as Nike’s was. I believe that, ideally, knowing where large companies align themselves and what they tolerate would be very beneficial to evoking social change, but realistically I’m inclined to think that companies taking stances like that could easily send America into the opposite direction, depending on the messages conveyed and the motives behind them.

This is Lens of The People, a column dedicated to giving the Houston community a voice and a platform. Stay on the lookout for more, all made possible by The Forward Times!