By Giselle Acevedo
On Sept 3, Nike released its new ad campaign featuring former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick who led the team to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season.
Kaepernick is also known for controversially kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality, the murder of Black males by police, corruption and racism with in the police force.
When thinking of corporate America, making a political stance might be the last thing to get attached to a product. But, Nike’s ad campaign is purposefully centered around the idea that one should fight for what they believe in and seems to be blatantly in rebellion towards the current administration. More than sponsoring a quarterback, Nike is directly supporting a human rights campaign concentrated on the pursuit for equality.
However, beginning in 1988, reports were released by the Center for Communication & Civic Engagement regarding contracted companies in South Korea and Indonesia that produced shoes for Nike, sighting early investigative reports regarding wage protests, illegally paid workers and even worker deaths due to unsafe work transportation.
It wasn’t until 2005 that Nike took a step towards transparency within its company and released a 108-page report on Nike’s website and in an article published in the Seattle Times, detailing the multiple abuses the workers had suffered. But, according to additional reports via Quartz, the factories are continuing to violate workers’ rights.
The past and continued human rights violations cannot be overlooked. How can a movement started as the result of years of systematic oppression stand to gain any positive traction being backed by a company that turns around and abuses the backbone of their business? It is not fair to the Black Lives Matter movement that a company such as Nike would support them.
In the end, giant corporations such as Nike only serve to better their own profit, their sales rising thirty-one percent as of Sept. 10, 2018 at the wake of such controversy. It is best for all activist movements not to involve themselves with such businesses or otherwise risk invalidating the cause they are fighting for.