Nike pulls fourth of July trainers after Colin Kaepernick 'raises concerns'
Colin Kaepernick has been one of the most-discussed figures in sport ever since he spoke out against police brutality, taking his demonstration to the world stage when he and other NFL players took a knee during the national anthem.
Even in the subsequent years he's spent unsigned, he's remained a hot topic given his work with charities and as an activist. This eventually lead to his collaboration with Nike last September, in which he became one of the faces of their new campaign.
His inclusion in these motivational commercials and billboards sparked a backlash from his critics. In fact, many ended up burning their Nike gear and apparel, or otherwise boycotting the company, to make their stance on Nike's business decision clear.
Now, another dealing between Nike and Kaepernick has made headlines, after the company followed his advice to cancel the release of a new product. They chose to not release their new American Independence Day Air Max 1 trainers last-minute, after the former NFL player reportedly raised concerns with the design.
The shoes were to feature red, white and blue colors, as well as an early version of the American flag. This early version was designed by Betsy Ross in 1792, and features 13 stripes and 13 stars to represent the original US colonies.
The issues raised with this design is that, aside from its link to the slave trade, it has more recently become associated with the white nationalist movement.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Kaepernick expressed issues with the outdated design due to the fact it had more direct links with slavery. Many extremist groups with an affinity for this period in America's colonial history have taken to using the 13-colony flag, with the image being viewed by some as a symbol white nationalism.
The trainers were initially due to be released on Monday, July 1, but the company announced they will no longer be going through with the launch. The brand said in a statement that they have "chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured an old version of the American flag".
Since photos of these designs still remain on social media, many have also voiced the same criticism Kaepernick reportedly held.
"The Betsy Ross flag has been turned into a symbol of white nationalism and domestic extremism," activist Adam best wrote on Twitter. "Conservatives will whine, but Colin Kaepernick was right to speak out and Nike was right to pull the products."
On the other side of the debate, some think of this version of the flag as representative of rebellion, and believe that white supremacist groups' use of the image shouldn't affect others' use of it.
It is likely that the shoes will be re-released with an updated design to replace these ones in the near future.
That is, unless wearing an up-to-date version of the flag conflicts with the US Flag Code, which stipulates that "the flag should never be used as wearing apparel".