Kelly's Blog: Nike Bows to Kaepernick, Pulls Betsy Ross Flag Shoe

USA flag, the Betsy Ross version with grungy treatment

Word came out late Monday that Nike has pulled its American flag themed sneaker before they hit the shelves for Independence Day. Why? Because Colin Kaepernick told them to.

Since he has been irrelevant for the past few years, a quick refresher on Kap - He is the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who was at the center of the kneeling controversy in the NFL. He said back then that he could not stand for the National Anthem because the flag stands for a country that “oppresses black people and people of color.” He cited violence minorities have experienced at the hands of police, and then went on to display socks with pigs on them, in an apparent silent protest against law enforcement. The National Anthem issue became a divisive topic in the NFL that lasted for several seasons after Kaepernick was shown the door.

Now, Nike’s Air Max 1 USA features what we know as the “Besty Ross Flag”. That is the flag with thirteen stars and stripes, and representing the original 13 colonies in the shape of a circle. I think Kaepernick needs a little history lesson.

After America won its Independence from British rule and declared its Independence in 1776, there was a huge demand for American Flags. While several versions of the story exist, we do know that Betsy Ross was one of a number of women who were hired to hand-sew these new American flags. Over the next few years she helped redesign the stars from six to five points. Several other women are also credited with the flag’s creation, including a 13-year-old African American girl named Grace Wisher. What all of this has come to represent is not only America’s independence, but the role women had in it. That flag is a symbol of women’s contributions to American history and independence, including a young woman of color.

For Kaepernick to try to claim that the Betsy Ross flag symbolizes slavery is insulting to the women who helped craft that symbol of American freedom. Women are also a group that have been marginalized, objectified, denied the right to vote and denied equal rights in many areas; including pay. We have also had to fight long and hard for hundreds of years against sexism, and that fight continues today. This flag is a something that is widely recognized as women’s contribution in a time when none of the freedoms we have today existed.

Nike recognized that. Too bad Kaepernick did not. And unfortunately, the company listened to the wrong voice. -Kelly

Photo: Getty Images

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