White people who are upset about Nike making Colin Kaepernick the face of the 30th Anniversary “Just Do It” campaign are only burning the Nike shoes because burning crosses is frowned upon.
Since these people had already paid for the product they destroyed, the only parties hurt are themselves. They may as well have just lit their money on fire and called it a day.
Any well-meaning five-year-old can understand that Kaep knelt to protest injustices committed by police and our criminal justice system. I am tired of explaining this to people that don’t want to accept the truth about his protests and this act. Accepting the fact that he was not protesting the flag, or troops or first responders means you would have to accept the fact that such disparities and injustices exist.
Doing so is not something some Americans are ready to believe because they would have to accept the fact that the people they hold dear – police officers, law and order alike – have serious faults and have disproportionately harmed people of color. They would have to accept the blood on their hands for often standing on the wrong side of justice. They would have to admit that making America great does not mean making an orange man president, but making sure America leaves out its founding creed, that all men are created equal.
The silver lining? There are teachable moments with this ongoing saga that we can use to fortify our young people with morals and ethics so we don’t produce more tiki torch wearing, swoosh burning MAGA hat wearing bigots.
To ensure we educate more inclusive, empathetic, critical thinkers who are kind we have to:
- Teach young people that doing the right thing will not always be popular or easy. Teach young people to take the time to listen and understand other points of views. Teach young people to have empathy, even when they may not agree or understand someone else’s views.
- Teach young people to be caring and kind to everyone they meet while understanding those kind gestures may not be returned.
- Teach young people to stand up, or kneel, for what they believe in and that dissent is one of the highest forms of patriotism.
The convenient hate and selective outrage that Kaep experienced is an indicator of the fact that “patriotism” for some in America means protecting institutions and objects more than the people said objects and institutions are meant to protect. The spirit of true patriotism should be rooted in respecting and understanding one’s duty, obligation and right to point out shortcomings in what citizens invest in. Just like we hold on to receipts to return or exchange products we are not satisfied with, the same should be true for the government and its institutions.
The fact of the matter should be not missed in discourse; Colin Kaepernick decided to use his platform to bring injustice to light by kneeling while the national anthem was played or sang. He then consulted with decorated veterans when he was met with outrage who advised him that kneeling was a more somber and respectful act.
But above all, he knew he could lose everything he had worked for over the span of his career; he knelt anyway. I have respect for him for that but even more so because he backed up his protest with action. That is why he is deserving of being the face of Nike’s 30th Anniversary Campaign; because when he could have folded under the pressure and criticism, his moral compass told him to “Just Do It!”