On Nike and ‘Equality’

In honour of Martin Luther King day and with Black History Month approaching, Nike released their 2018 EQUALITY line featuring shoes and apparel with messages of and relating to equality on them.

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Pictured above are Nike’s EQUALITY Air Force 1 Low’s with a hangtag reading “I Have a Dream. That one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed” from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream”

NBA teams who played from January 11-15 were seen sporting Nike’s “I Have a Dream” t-shirt during warm-ups. Nike further reports that their BHM collection “celebrates black heritage around the world by feeling community action to create positive change”.

Furthermore, the colours used in this line were inspired by the Pan-African flag.

While few will dispute that the overall message is positive, it’s hard not to notice the hypocrisy of messages of this nature coming from a brand like Nike.

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It’s hard to take seriously a company that’s faced many allegations of utilizing sweatshops and child labour to increase their profit margins, paying factory workers in Indonesia $3 a day, advocating for equality. It would seem reasonable that if a company were to voice for equality, they would be able to treat their workers equally and fairly.

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It’s hard to see what putting the word ‘equality’ on apparel and footwear, that is hardly accessible to those of lower socioeconomic status, without something actionable accompanying that really accomplishes moving towards equality.

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While the message is nice, I would like to see wealthy companies held more accountable for their actions and putting to practice the messages they preach.

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