By Michael Foster-Sanders/campus editor
The internet exploded Sept. 4 with the news that Nike chose former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to be the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
Kaepernick’s supporters cheered, sharing the news over social media platforms. Detractors swore to never buy Nike products again after choosing the unpatriotic enemy of America’s morals, and some even destroyed their Nike products by cutting the swoosh off shorts and burning shoes.
But why is one man hated so much for standing up — or rather kneeling — for trying to change America for the better?
History shows when black athletes use their platform to shed light on America’s social ills, it often falls on deaf ears. Black athletes are supposed to be grateful for the opportunity given to them. They are told not to think, not to feel or, as Fox News’ Laura Ingraham told LeBron James, “Shut up and dribble.”
From Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in the 1968 Olympics to Muhammad Ali refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam War and now with Kaepernick kneeling, it seems like a pattern. If you buck the system, you will be stripped of everything and blackballed.
Jerry Jones told his Dallas Cowboys players that they better stand for the flag or suffer the consequences. Now here is a man who stands behind his players and goes to bat for them against the NFL when they’re accused of trouble yet won’t support them for standing up for something that affects them, their communities and their families.
What Kaepernick and other athletes represent is a new America where the minority is demanding to be heard and affect change. The old ways and traditions of good-ol’-boy America are being challenged, and it’s becoming an all-hands-on-deck emergency to keep those values intact.
Let’s be clear: Nike knew what it was doing in choosing Kaepernick as the face of its campaign. Knowing he’s a polarizing figure, Nike is set to make money off this strategic move, but Kaepernick’s message can also go further now.
Can’t have the yin without the yang.