July 3, 2019

Kaepernick, Nike, and Betsy Ross's flag

Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox:
The sneaker was supposed to go on sale this week for $140, and Nike had already shipped it to retailers when it made the decision. Kaepernick took issue with the sneaker's design, which featured 13 white stars in a circle, referencing a Revolutionary War-era version of the American flag (commonly known as the Betsy Ross flag). This early version of the flag, he argued, is pulled from the era of slavery and doesn't warrant celebration.
Kaepernick's sincere, years-long public rejection of overt and systemic American racism is rightly applauded, but this is an example of taking a good idea too far. That an unrelated symbol of early America emerged from the long era of white oppression of blacks is no reason to reject it. We're not talking statues of Civil War heroes or Lee's battle flag, here. The Ross flag is in no way connected to white supremacy.

The first symbol of American independence and unity, the Ross flag was also the first to recognizably survive into the modern era. It should be part of any celebration of the nation's founding.

Kaepernick's rejection of the flag from a product he endorses is his business. Nike's rejection at his urging is not only ridiculous, but it's also bad business, to boot. The shoes were already in retailers' hands.

#Kaepernick #racism