This week’s addition of The Henry Hype has me remembering a lesson I learned as a kid, and how it still stands true to this day.
Last week, the first NFL player to knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the United States, former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, shared a black and white close up photo of himself on Instagram with the quote “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Nike confirmed Kaepernick was the face of the 30th anniversary of their “Just Do It” campaign.
Nike shares dropped after the announcement was made, and people took to social media to express their outrage at the company for the decision. Videos were posted of people burning Nike products they’d previously purchased, and swearing never to buy their merchandise.
While I’ve never understood burning or ruining things you’ve already bought as a form of protest (they already have your money, after all), I’m pretty sure this boycott campaign is going to backfire on the group that started it.
As they say “No press is bad press when people are talking about you.” Right?
While I’m sure Nike is going to experience a hit when it comes to sales as a result of choosing Kaepernick for their campaign, I’m not sure if their main demographic will shy away from them completely. Choosing athletes that cause a stir isn’t a new format for them, either. Such as when they supportted tennis player Serena Williams after her catsuit was banned from the British Open for “going too far.”
When the backlash around Kaewpernick started to be reported in 2016, I wasn’t really sure how some Americans viewed his protests as an insult to the flag and the military. How was he insulting veterans and active members of the military when they fight to give him, and people like him, the right to peacefully protest and to have freedom of speech?
Other arguments I saw were about celebrities using their platform to promote their personal agendas, and how they shouldn’t comment on political matters. If they do their research, why can’t they educate their fan base on issues they feel passionate about?
While I was looking through social media outrage about Nike, my mind went to a quote my dad always says when issues of freedom speech are brought up: “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll fight for your right to say it.”
People may not have liked what Kaepernick was doing but he had a right to do it. He used his platform to address an issue he felt passionately about. The Nike campaign shows that he’s sticking to his guns, and that the company has taken a stance on the issue.
The Nike campaign also reminded me of the inspirational quote that was in almost all of my grade school classrooms over the years, and something my mom repeated to me time and time again. “Stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone.”
I realize it was more about standing up to bullies or peer pressure but it fits the topic I’m talking about this week. I always think of it when I see people peacefully protesting, or when someone voices an unpopular opinion.
When you see an injustice in the world you can do one of two things: you can stick your head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening, or you can stand up and try to do something about it.