The reasons the emotional reactions strongly overpower the intellectual understandings is because of the statement used to start this article. People are programmed in this society to react, not think. So, those people burning their Nike products because of Nike's announced endorsement deal with protest icon Colin Kaepernick are convinced they know what they are doing when people around the world are looking at them and scratching their heads. Their logic that the protests are disrespectful against the U.S. and its institutions like the military are completely ill-relevant, but for the sake of argument, let's say Kaepernick and the others are protecting specifically against the U.S. flag, and military, etc. Even if they are (and I believe regardless of the liberalism involved that in truth, they are), judging by history, they have every right to do so. The insane logic that African people have an obligation to respect a country that shows us absolutely no respect is not even worth acknowledging, but for the sake of argument again, these people I'm talking about are so finely programmed that they do not even possess the capacity to explain in clear language how an African in the U.S. owes any type of debt towards the U.S. military for fighting wars overseas? How have these wars done anything to "protect our freedoms" Remind me one more time because I know the oppression African people face in this country had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc. None of those countries prohibited my parents from going to quality schools. Living where they wanted. Shopping where they wanted. Eating where they wanted. Going to whatever part of town they wanted. None of those countries created and/or enforced racist Jim Crow segregation laws in this country which repressed and oppressed my parents and millions of other Africans up through the late 1960s. This is all so insane that none of those people can explain to me why my father was wrong to tell me that I should never once consider joining the military because he was forced to fight in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war despite the fact he had none of the rights mentioned above in his native Louisiana at the time he was enlisted. A high school student could conclude that our fight has always been and continues to be against the U.S. government and its institutions of oppression e.g. police departments. This is what the players are protesting for and that context is important because confusion around anything dealing with racism in this capitalist society is as common as alcohol at the corporate office party.
So in the backdrop described above where African players protest and a large swath of white people in this country call for their castration, including the so-called president of the U.S., Nike, one of the world's largest corporate producers of athletic themed equipment and clothing has come out in the middle of all of this and signed Kaepernick to an endorsement deal? Those angry face popping Europeans are calling for everything Nike to be burned to the ground. And supporters of the protests are calling for everyone to go out today and spend any money you have and don't have on whatever it is Nike that you can get your hands on. The typical capitalist business model is to always take the safe route. Never be controversial, and to avoid conflict or political opinions at all costs. As a result, many people are naively using that logic to conclude that Nike deserves props for their decision. They did something similar with a disgraced Tiger Woods several years ago and many people are pointing to their ads appealing to Serena William's inner city upbringing in contrast to her outstanding success on the tennis court as virtues. But, what is Nike doing here with Kaepernick? Really?
First, let's look at who Nike really is. They are a company that helped us understand the viciousness of the garment producing industry. Their dependence on exploitative sweatshop labor in Southeast Asia is well known and its not like the company has ever done anything to provide justice to those it profited from and exploited. Plus, having lived and organized in Oregon, U.S., the state where Nike is based in the U.S., I observed first hand the efforts by Phil Knight, the driving force behind Nike, to destroy Oregon's public university system to ensure that he could have unlimited control over the direction of the University of Oregon, the state's most prestigious university. In working to ensure the U of O was an athletic powerhouse and a marketing and recruiting ground for future talent for his company Nike, Knight waged a vicious campaign that significantly weakened Oregon's four smaller and much less prosperous universities located in the rural areas of the state. All of these practices, including pushing for sweetheart subsidy deals to operate in the state, make it painfully obvious that Nike cannot ever be confused with a justice loving entity that makes stands based on principle.
Nike's decision to sign Kaepernick has absolutely nothing to do with principles and everything to do with bottom line profits. I realize many of you who do not understand how to develop and maintain a vision for the future will have a difficult time grasping this. In your view, how can they be making any type of prudent business decision when they are embracing the embodiment of evil in Kaepernick in the minds of their primarily white and older demographic customers who account for a significant portion of their retail revenues? The difference is a corporation like Nike, unlike most of you, isn't just thinking about today or tonight. They are thinking about 10, 15, 50 years from now and how they can ensure their brand is on top then, as well as now. In other words, you can bet that Nike has done a very complete and detailed financial projection and analysis around this question before they reached out to Kaepernick. I can ascertain that what they concluded is that human consciousness doesn't stand still. It continues to move. Even if so many white people cannot see past tomorrow, and are so infected with racism that they cannot even stand themselves, Nike understands that Kaepernick's stand is the correct and principled stand to take. They realize that because of that ill refutable reality, its highly unlikely that 25 years from now, people, even more than enough white people, will see Kaepernick as they see him today. And, they have plenty of research to back up that contention. Although capitalism teaches history as if how they teach it is accurate and has always been the case, we know that everything capitalism says about history is a lie. Consequently, we know that despite their efforts to whitewash the 1960s for example, during that time Martin Luther King was a hated man. Muhammad Ali was a hated man for taking his stand against the Vietnam war. King and Ali fielded a hatred that Kaepernick hasn't even come close to receiving. He certainly lost his football career, but only after he had already become a millionaire, something Ali wasn't permitted to do. And, of course, King lost his life. Nike understands all of this and since their mission isn't to be on top today, or just next year, they are making a calculated move to ensure that they are still on top long after the idiots burning their shoes today are long dead, buried, and completely forgotten. Judging by how people view Muhammad Ali and Dr. King today, its quite possible that Nike's decision will be a correct and profitable one for them.
What should be the takeaway for us regarding this entire situation is that we have to start to learn how to see the world through our own analysis. An analysis that is fueled by our culture and our history. We have to see the importance of learning and adhering to our own cultural ideology. If we had the ability to do that as a mass of people today, we couldn't be taken in so easily by the outward appearance of respect for our struggle that the untrained eye will afford to Nike today. With our own ideology we would understand clearly that the rubber for the sneakers comes from rubber plantations exploited in Liberia, West Africa, and that our people are remanded to poverty for the exploitation of that rubber that benefits Nike, while we get nothing except continued servitude. With our own ideology we wouldn't and couldn't be satisfied just to pay our enemies to wear the shoes. We would instead desire to own and control the production of the shoes in a way that creates opportunities and resources for the masses of our people. No, I haven't criticized Kaepernick for accepting the deal with Nike. Based on how that African has selflessly shared his resources to advance our struggle, I have no reason to believe he won't use whatever resources come his way through this deal to continue to do so. He clearly has developed some vision in everything he is doing. He knew his football career would suffer for taking a stance. That means he took time to study his history. He knew about Ali, Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, and others who set the stage for him. He has vision. Its time for the rest of us to join him. Try to focus on not reacting to things like this when they happen. Instead, think about what this means and seek out resources coming from our own African cultural perspective to understand why things happen the way they do. Practice doing that. It will make the work of people like me much more easier because we won't have to spend as much time deconstructing the confusion every single time something happens. We can spend more time helping us point in the direction we need to go. What Kaepernick has done has given us a light. The power is indeed ours. If you don't believe that, read comments on any article about Kaepernick and you will see the absolute fear strangling these poor and ridiculous people. That should tell you that all we have to do now is assume and play our proper role.