On Monday, three days before the 2018 -19 National Football League’s season is set to begin, Nike verified that Colin Kaepernick signed a multi-year deal that makes him the face of their 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” Campaign. The advertisement has a statement written across a black and white portrait of Kaepernick that reads, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” At the bottom of the image is the Nike check mark with the “Just do it” slogan. Kaepernick tweeted this image on September 3rd and the response was immediate.
It has been a little over two years since Kaepernick first began his silent protest of the systematic oppression of black people and people of color specifically due to police brutality. Though the powers that be have tried to warp and distort his message, it has remained about disrupting this disturbing American tradition of violence and brutality against black and brown bodies. The powers that be have tried varying tactics to silence his messages most egregiously by saying that his protest was about “disrespecting” the National Anthem, flag, or military personnel. Threats were made against players who joined in the protest and Kaepernick was blackballed by the NFL.
Kaepernick was also victorious a week ago when news broke that his grievance case, where he accused the league of not allowing him to play because of his activism, advanced by the arbitrator.
It now appears that Nike, one of the most powerful conglomerates in the world has chosen to be on the right side of history. As the official uniform sponsor of the League, this is saying something. Sandra Carreon-John, a spokesperson for Nike, said, “Nike has a long-standing relationship with the NFL and works extensively with the league on all campaigns that use current NFL players. Colin is not currently employed by an NFL team and has no contractual obligations to the NFL.”
Kaepernick’s tweet with his campaign set off a firestorm of discussions and debates on Twitter. The Nike brand was mentioned over 1 million times on Monday and counting.
Nike has made its choice to care about social injustice putting the pressure on other companies and people in positions of power to do the right thing. It will be interesting to see who else has the courage to withstand the floods of bigotry, racism, supremacy, and hatred.
Also, your move NFL.