Why Am I Confused About Nike?

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         September 9, 2018

                          

Civil disobedience has been a subject discussed and conversed about amongst followers of Jesus for a long, long time. It’s also at the core of who we are as a nation, going back to the Sons of Liberty and the Boston Tea Party in 1773. 

In 1849 Henry David Thoreau wrote his essay “Civil Disobedience” because of his disgust over slavery and the Mexican-American War. 

In more recent times Martin Luther King’s civil disobedience displayed in non-violent resistance was instrumental in bringing this nation through a time of granting civil rights to African-Americans. Dr. King knew that getting arrested was one of the risks in protesting the segregation laws of the South. In fact, he was arrested 29 times. Some of those were trumped-up charges as a result of his position as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. 

In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus because it was designated for a white person. That show of civil disobedience is still referred to as history teaches about the civil rights years. 

So why does Nike’s decision to make Colin Kaepernick it’s point person in the new “Just Do It!” campaign confuse me? 

Listen! I’m non-judgmental about Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. It came at a time of unrest in our nation. I see both sides of the argument, and whereas I’m not in his corner I’m not in the opposite corner either. It IS possible to be somewhere in the middle, convinced that someone is neither totally right or totally wrong.

My confusion is more with Nike! When a corporation grows a conscience it sounds admirable. When a multi-national corporation grows a conscience it causes me to look a little closer. Is there consistency in how they treat everyone, regardless of nationality, gender, age, or race? And, if there is, great! That’s awesome! And if there isn’t…why the spotty sputtering social conscience? 

Consistency is lacking in Nike’s drive for social justice. For example, as recent as this past June there were major concerns about what Nike and Adidas pay their workers in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Even though the cost of materials to produce a pair of athletic shoes has deceased in the last several years, wages paid to workers has not increased. Only corporate profits have been the beneficiary. Nike has been investigated for its treatment of workers in areas such as demanding its workers labor for long hours. A Nike garment worker in those three countries is 45 to 65% below the so-called “living wage” that would allow a worker to provide the basic needs for his/her family. Nike has filtered funds more into paying athletes and outfitting the Oregon Ducks, who wear nothing but the Nike brand, than they have into paying their workers.

That’s why I’m confused by Nike. They are about as consistent as a pot-holed Michigan street in March! 

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2 Comments on “Why Am I Confused About Nike?”

  1. Ed Says:

    It has nothing to do with social justice, as you rightly guessed. The word on Wall Street is that Nike is “consumer savvy” after discovering that their target audience of 18-35 year olds supports Kaepernick, and they received an estimated $28 million in free advertising on social media, both good and bad. They don’t care if they upset and lose “older” customers who are not buying that much Nike stuff anyway these days. The company is famous for being “cutting edge” with their ads, so they are “cutting” again. BTW, the NFL is making a bundle off of Kaepernick as well since his jersey is the number one seller in sports stores. Supposedly the money Kaepernick actually gets he gives to his charity for street kids.


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