Kaepernick and Nike: Are the responses unclear motivation or an act of social justice?

Colin Kaepernick has become a polarizing figure in the political scene lately. Have his actions motivated compelling conversation or just unrest?

Many have taken to choosing sides in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s well-publicized display of self-described disapproval of racial injustice. This was seen during the singing of the national anthem at a 2016 game by first sitting during the national anthem, and then at a later game, taking a knee during the song. Many have taken to choosing sides.

In the wake of Kaepernick’s actions and the release of Nike’s ad campaign, some disgruntled fans have taken to social media. In a sign of disapproval of both the players actions and the company’s decision to validate his message, they have begun burning their Nike-branded apparel.

Following the backlash experienced in various media outlets and purported by various fans over social media, Nike released an advertisement campaign centered around the football star, as well as other polarizing sports figures who have made similar statements such as Lebron James and Serena Williams.

In response, others on social media have urged the would-be destroyers of shoes to instead donate the shoes to a cause that suits their beliefs such as military veterans or the disabled, who could surely use the clothing, regardless of branding issues.

Nike’s decision to back Kaepernick’s play has paid off, with the New York Post reporting 61 percent more merchandise sales since the ad was released.

I have no issue with Kaepernick making his statement. Speaking about public issues is the right, and some feel the onus, of those that have a platform to use it to further their own ideologies. It is also the right of others to disapprove and to make statements that reflect such.

It is only this question I propose: What statement does one’s actions make? Are these statements well thought out, thought-provoking, intriguing or particularly insightful? Or are they simply a gut response, representing only the hatred and anger you feel?

Hatred and anger can often be highly motivating emotions; however, it is important to remember that the product of your motivations is what truly matters. This means that your feelings should warrant you to pursue some tangible effort to right the things that you feel are wrong, either in society or in any situation, or at the very least to be persuasive to others toward your values.

It is also important to remember that if your message is unclear, you leave the public to assume your position and motivations. In this case, Kaepernick has said that his actions were referencing injustices that he felt were apparent in society.

Without context I’m left to assume those that seek to oppose his views are either denying that these injustices exist, or that they are in favor of these injustices. Neither of these positions are one that I can personally relate to.

It is each American’s right to speak out, and to decide where their opinions and loyalties lie. I urge you to make your statement clearly.