Nike announced today that Colin Kaepernick is one of the new faces of its 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign. This means a number of things. Nike is validating Kaepernick’s efforts to advance social justice, while also validating Kaepernick’s ongoing legal action against the NFL for blackballing him. It’s a bold move for Nike, considering its financial relationship with the NFL. It’s also a conscious slap in Donald Trump’s face.
Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the National Anthem in order to draw attention to police brutality against black people and racism in general, and several other NFL players followed. Donald Trump then tried to hijack the kneeling issue in order to advance his racist agenda. Not only has he repeatedly attacked black NFL players across the board, he’s often zeroed in on Kaepernick in particular. At one point Trump called Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” to drive his point home.
Kaepernick and his legal team have long asserted that he was blackballed from the NFL because Donald Trump wanted it that way. Sure enough, when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked about it under oath, he acknowledged that Trump had called him directly and demanded that the team owners begin feuding with black players over the kneeling issue. Jones even stated that Trump specifically admitted he wanted it to happen because he believed it would boost his own approval rating.
With all of this taken into context, Nike’s decision to put Colin Kaepernick front and center in its new marketing campaign is, unmistakably, a direct repudiation of Donald Trump and everything he stands for. It’s also a middle finger to Trump’s racist base, who will now probably try to arrange a boycott against all Nike products. But whenever corporate America has bet against Trump, it’s tended to come out ahead – and things never turn out well in the end for anyone who sides with Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report