Posted on July 2, 2019

Nike Recalls Shoe After Colin Kaepernick Raises Racial Concerns

Charles Robinson, Yahoo News, July 2, 2019

In a decision that will thrust Nike into the spotlight of corporations walking a tightrope between product and historic symbolism, the athletic giant has pulled an American flag-themed shoe from circulation after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick expressed concern to the company about selling apparel he says features a slave-era emblem.

According to a source who spoke with Yahoo Sports, Nike began a movement to pull the shoe from stores nearly two weeks ago after Kaepernick and others raised concern that the “Betsy Ross Flag” printed on the heel of the company’s 4th of July-themed Air Max 1 was not only racially insensitive, but had also been adopted by some groups such as the Patriot Movement and Identity Evropa (pronounced “Europa”) allegedly as a symbol of white nationalism.


A source who went into more detail about the decision told Yahoo Sports that a significant part of the shoe’s removal from circulation stemmed from complaints from Kaepernick and others about the symbolism of the Ross flag, which rose to prominence in the 1790s. {snip}

The “Betsy Ross Flag” features 13 stars in a circle representing the United States’ original 13 colonies. As concern over white nationalism has become a spotlight issue in recent years, the Ross flag has for some risen as a symbol of controversy as it’s reportedly been adopted by some movements.


The president of the Greater Grand Rapids Branch of the NAACP Cle Jackson later blasted the students’ use of the Ross flag in comments to Michigan Capitol Confidential, calling it a symbol that had been adopted by “[t]he so-called ‘Patriot Movement’ and other militia groups who are responding to America’s increasing diversity with opposition and racial supremacy.”

Those were feelings Kaepernick passed on when he shared his concerns with Nike about the Ross flag being a slavery-era symbol, a source told Yahoo Sports. {snip}