Colin Kaepernick’s culture influence just keeps growing. This week, Kaepernick reportedly pressured Nike to pull a sneaker that he considered offensive, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Fourth of July-themed sneakers had a Revolutionary War-era, 13-star American flag on the heel. The Betsy Ross flag, as it’s known, flew during a time when slavery was very much present in the U.S. In a statement to the WSJ, a Nike spokesperson said: “Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured the old version of the American flag.”
Nike pulled the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July sneaker, which was supposed to drop this week, offline and from stores to which it had been shipped. Although the company didn’t acknowledge Kaepernick’s influence in the decision, the WSJ credits the activist and former NFL player with bringing the company’s attention to the flag’s history. According to the WSJ, Kaepernick reached out to Nike, with whom he made that iconic ad last year,
after seeing photos of the sneakers online. He has not commented on the matter.
In addition to the connection to its time and place in history, this particular flag has also been more recently used by white supremacists. For a sneaker that was meant to be celebratory, Nike really missed the mark. Of course, not everyone thinks so. After hearing news that Nike had pulled the sneaker, Arizona governor Doug Ducey tweeted a string of heated thoughts on the matter. For example:
Ducey said he’s pulling funding for a Nike factory in the state because of Nike’s decision. He referred to Betsy Ross as a “Founding Mother” and did not comment on the state of slavery during the time when the flag was in use. It seems like he could use a Kaepernick history lesson, too.