As Nike geared up for one of their first celebratory Independence Day Air Max trainers following on from the likes of the Air Force 1 from 2017, the Nike Air Max 1 ‘Fourth of July’ trainer quickly gained the attention they didn’t want it to. Featuring the Betsy Ross flag to the heel counter, which is an early design of the United States flag from 1777. The trainer was quickly recalled from the sneaker shelves after it was dubbed the Nike Air Max 1 ‘Racist trainer’. Former NFL quarterback and Nike campaigner, Colin Kaepernick, raised concerns that the flag used was offensive because it was associated with slavery in the US. The Fourth of July trainer quickly hit resale sites such as StockX, fetching for $2500, however was soon removed from the site with the new StockX CEO, Scott Cutler, saying on Twitter “the sale of this product on our platform does not align with our value system”.
Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, has also withdrawn a $1 million grant for Nike’s new factory in Arizona with the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel going on to say “If we’re in a political environment where the American flag has become controversial to Americans, I think we’ve got a problem”. The question really is did Nike really think this through or were they simply trying to introduce an Independence Day themed trainer to the Air Max sneaker lovers of the world? Nike surely didn’t set out to intentionally offend anybody. It’s not as though they stuck the Confederate flag on the shoe and yes the Confederate flag is extremely offensive. The Confederate flag was a symbol of the South who supported slavery which is why the Civil war starting in the first place. Why some Americans choose to still celebrate this flag is a sign that some of us sadly are still racist and will never evolve as people.
In the future Nike need to be extra vigilant when choosing a design that celebrates America’s past and and not going with a flag that has an association with the enslavement of an entire race. Who does want to be reminded of slavery on their sneakers? Hopefully the majority of people out there don’t!