Dualism among Americans of African descent has been a subject that has garnered much thought by academics, artists, activists and authors for the entire span of our experience in the United States. Capitalism is among those things that has garnered the most thought, as well as a significant amount of consternation amid that populous as well. On one hand, we see that capitalism has allowed some to lift themselves out of the struggle of their parents and grandparents only to inherit new millennium struggles that actively denies the trials and tribulations of their most honored grands and great-grands.
With Nike’s new ad campaign celebrating the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” marketing campaign placing obviously blackballed QB Colin Kaepernick as its center, we see Nike has engaged in something that very few American companies have engaged in; capitalism used to battle institutional racism. Make no mistake about it, the NFL’s stance on Kaep is all about institutional racism.
Athletic shoe and apparel maker Adidas recently announced that it would be willing to give Colin Kaepernick an endorsement contract if he were signed to an NFL team. That sounds all well and dandy, but many people, both for and against Kaep, doubt that he’ll ever win another NFL gig due to the league-wide acts of protest that he initiated back in 2016, as well as his ongoing collusion lawsuit.
Indeed, the desire for capital was and is one of the primary drivers of black misery in this country, as well as the entire globe. Capital is what empowers governments to allow vagabond industrialists to lie, cheat, steal and poison Americans. Though NFL team owners and other enablers of ignorance have used capitalism to fund conservative causes dear to their hearts, the slavery paradigm emerges when they forbid players from using their platforms to further causes dear to their own hearts.
Men who are literally placing their lives on the line to entertain the masses are told they should be quiet and thankful for the “privilege” of making millions as NFL players. Never mind the increased risk of a horrible death by CTE or Parkinson’s Disease. Never mind the dilapidated bodies of once legendary NFL players hobbling around as reminders of the game’s rigors. “Just be thankful that you have the privilege to knock one another’s brains out for our amusement.” That, in essence, is what they’re saying when they say “shut up and play” or “shut up and dribble”.
From the false narrative stating how protesting during the national anthem is an affront to the military, the owners refusing to plainly state that police brutality is among the core causes of the protests and their insistence that Kaep isn’t being blackballed despite all evidence to the contrary, are all indicative of institutional racism.
Recently, Sports Illustrated published their October issue with a photoshopped collage featuring NBA stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, WNBA star Candace Parker and several other athletes who have come to the fore in the media spotlight due to their recent words and actions regarding protest, American-style oppression and the right to free speech.
However, history has shown that capitalism can be used against the enablers of racism. We need only look at the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, the lunch counter boycotts and Martin Luther King Jr’s boycott of the entire state of Alabama as instances where the Movement used economic pressure to force the establishment to change. It’s effective because capitalism is a two-way street. The more potential profit one can affect, the greater chance that an opponent will eventually acquiesce. People are all in with their morals and beliefs until it hits their pockets.
Currently, the National Football League is still steeped in denial regarding a great number of player-related issues; domestic violence, league-sponsored prescription drug abuse, and the ongoing revelation that CTE and Parkinson’s disease are the likely fate of more than half of current and former NFL players are tops among them.
However, with their reaction to Colin Kaepernick and like-minded players, the NFL apparently believes that the protests are their main problem, even though NFL ratings have been on a steady decline for years prior to Kaep’s initial protest. In their knee-jerk reaction to Keap, as well as their anti-Kaep commentary since, the NFL is showing us all who they feared most.
After all of the turmoil that plaguing the 2017-18 season — player protests, anthem kneeling, the continued blackballing of Colin Kaepernick and friends, Trump’s attack on the NFL and its Black players and racist team owners and fans showing out — there wasn’t a player who kneeled for the anthem during the Super Bowl.
With Nike, the largest athletic apparel company in the world, Colin Kaepernick has an ally with deep pockets, influence, and global reach. And though the National Football League is still the ratings king of American television, it is the least global of all major American sports leagues.
It is a certainty that these Nike ads will play throughout the MLB playoffs, as well as the entirety of the NFL and NBA seasons. They will serve as a glaring reminder to all who care of the NFL’s stance on player individuality and the player protests. Despite the counter-narrative, they are American, they are protected by the First Amendment and they do not dishonor the American military.
One can only wonder how long it’ll take the NFL to side with the rest of society, rather than harboring the fears and falsehoods of old white men with cultural anxiety issues.