On Kaepernick and Nike

I own a pair of Nike shoes, and I’m proud to say I’ll buy more. I also must confess that I am not a fan of Colin Kaepernick. I wasn’t much of a fan while he played, and even now I have some serious issues with him. As I take stock of Nike deciding to use Kaepernick in their “Just Do It” anniversary campaign though, I have to say I support it.

I’m not a Colin Kaepernick fan. The man wants to hold himself up as a social justice champion, but has admitted he didn’t vote in 2016. That he didn’t see the importance of voting in that election, and was critical of Hillary Clinton (who spent her life fighting for the causes he claims to champion), makes me very suspicious of him. While I agree with his kneeling during the national anthem, I found his depictions of police as pigs to be childish. I find Kaepernick to be a very flawed leader and spokesman of his cause.

Let’s also be clear here- kneeling during the anthem is an expression of free speech, our highest ideal as a nation, and the NFL blacklisting him for it is disgusting and UnAmerican. Kaepernick did lose his livelihood in support of a cause bigger than himself. I don’t have to like him to support him for that. That he made some bigots uncomfortable is no vice, but a badge of honor. Nike makes a lot of money selling shoes- and many of their customers are African-Americans who support Kaepernick in his cause. There is nothing wrong with Nike celebrating him for that.

I’m not a Kaepernick fan, but what I do love about him is how he exposes the bigotry in so many of my fellow white people. It would be easy to take Kaepernick as a flawed individual who is using his first amendment rights in our society and take it for what it is. Some of these folks can’t though. They lose their mind when he is honored by those who agree with him. They cut the swoosh off of their socks and burn shoes and jerseys. It’s as though the idea of a black athlete speaking out against racism is unacceptable to them (spoiler: I know that is what they actually think). They can’t contain their inner bigot and have to make a spectacle of themselves, instead of ignoring him like they do everyone else who tries to speak on the subject of race. I’m glad they do this though, it exposes who they are for everybody else to see.

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