Boycott Nike or kneel during the anthem

Artwork by Reyna Yang

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There has been a profound attack on America; not on its soil, but on its ideals.

Partisanship has created a deep divide in the country, deluding many into believing that certain opinions perceived as wrong, controversial or inflammatory shouldn’t be expressed.

However, there has been a monumental event in response to this movement of intolerance.

In what may be seen as a pivotal moment in American history, Nike chose to support a man protesting the issue of systemic racism and police brutality. This moment marks one of the very few instances where a large corporation has sided with a single ideal at an inherent risk of profit loss.

On Sept. 1, 2016, Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel at the 49ers’ final preseason game during the national anthem, protesting the unproportioned number of police brutalities cases against members of the African American community. In the following weeks, members of other professional football teams began to follow Kaepernick’s lead, choosing to kneel or raise their fist above their head.

The movement sparked a flurry of controversy that swept across America; reactions ranged from admiration to pride to outrage and everything in between. The line between the protest of an ideal and the protest of our country became blurry, and has been misinterpreted by many since.

Artwork by Reyna Yang

Kaepernick’s fight has been labeled as a fight against not only the national anthem, but against America itself.

Yet, we argue that the opposite is true: Kaepernick utilizing his rights through peaceful protest is how the American ideal should be perpetuated.

In no way does kneeling disrespect America. On the contrary: it is the best possible way to show respect to this country, by utilizing our right to free expression and peaceful protest.

This right applies to everyone. Those who disagree with Nike’s decision to side with Kaepernick have taken to boycotting Nike or even burning their Nike apparel in the hopes of teaching the company a lesson. Good for them. They, like Kaepernick are accessing their rights to free expression and protest.

People, both liberal and conservative in nature, have made huge sacrifices for free speech and we pay homage to that sacrifice by utilizing our rights.

Following the controversy, Nike had a significant dip in earnings over the past month, followed by a 27 percent increase in product orders leading to a record high in sales.

This statement for Kaepernick’s campaign with Nike sums up his experiences: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Resounding with ideals from both sides of the argument, the statement made by Nike validates the right to free speech.

Kaepernick has since lost his job with the NFL as the starting quarterback for the 49ers. The NFL has recently made the decision that will require the players to stand during the national anthem. Teams will be fined if players choose to kneel during the anthem, however, they may stay in the locker room should they choose to protest.

Whether you choose to sacrifice your job or a pair of Nike shoes, the Talon urges you to make an educated decision with conviction and recognize both acts are expressions of ideals Americans hold dear.

The Talon stands and kneels with Free Speech, as there is nothing more important to this country and to our democracy.

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