Colin Kaepernick: Nike ad hits the mark


I don’t care if people call the Nike ad with the football star Colin Kaepernick a cynical ploy of commercialism. I just don’t care. I love it on so many levels; I’m not sure where to begin. First and foremost the protagonist Colin Kaepernick whose stance against American racial brutalism -Kneelling during the national anthem- caused the American President Donald Trump to label him a unpatriotic and traitor.

Trumps outlandish views against a Black hero making a stance against racism are nothing new. Olympic stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos lowered their heads and raised a Black power fist during the Mexican Olympic Games in 1968. The price they paid was much the same as Kaepernick is paying now; ostricised by National Football  clubs, unable to work in his beloved profession. And even before Smith and John Carlos, in 1960 Muhammad Ail, back then known as Casius Clay, threw his Olympic medal into the river in protest of Jim Crow racism in the USA.

So standing up for what you believe despite the penalties is a virtue few of us would be able to do in reality, and yet all of us are inspired by such acts of heroism.

The other standout message from his ad, which like the first aspect of this critic, is both racial and universal at the same time. That is striving to be the best. Striving to be best, particularly against the odds is a timeless tale, one that evokes unparralled dedication, drive, and a little bit of good fortune. But that concept is turbo charged when it comes to race. The starting put is often inherently rigged when it comes to race, add to that gender and class, and you wonder, ‘how on god’s earth did Serena Williams become the best female tennis player, probably athlete that has ever lived?

In one minute this ad sends your mind spinning, demanding you ask your own questions: what’s my role, challenge? How do I help my child/children, family, community become the best they can be or better still the best in world?

I said at the beginning of this short piece that I don’t care if this is a cynical ploy by Nike. I do care! I care about those making the 200 dollar a pay training shoes if they’re on minimum wage. I care about whether or not their senior staff is as diverse and progressive as their ideals in this ad.

But I still love the ad for its powerful multifaceted message, and for putting a good man, Colin Kaepernick once again back on centre stage in the fight against racism

Simon Woolley