Colin Kaepernick's activism may have been a rightful critique of white supremacy and the conscious racial subjugation. However, he never understood Nike's capitalistic intention that involves awesome but destructive power and commitment to socialism. Nike has often positioned its self as the most socially responsible and ethical company despite the several controversies dogging it such as the sweatshop labor practices in the contract factories. The company's slogan is to believe in something even if it means losing everything. Nike faced a lot of attacks from the people who were against Colin Kaepernick for his stand on several political issues especially after his controversy when he kneeled in protest. never the less, Nike wanted to make the mass audience believe that they stand with Colin Kaepernick. By examining Nike's involvement in Colin Kaepernick's social activism, the research argues that Nike's interest in Nike is driven by its capitalist objectives to ride in the back of a towering giant in the limelight.
Nike Has No Moral Authority
Moral agency has been considered as a social construct and Colin was an actor who decided on the type of moral agency to represent. Nike is involved in a lot of controversial issues inkling overworking its employees working in a sweatshop in India and China. It is therefore unlikely for Nike to support Colin opened in his stand against the flags yet Nike is one company that has often blatantly exploited the low-income people (Powell & Skarbek, 2006). For example, Nike has had several accusation and protests about the working conditions in the sweatshops producing high-end products that Nike sells but has never taken a stand to revise condition for partners on the status of the working condition of the people working in those third world countries (De Winter, 2001). Nike has no moral authority to condemn social injustice or lecture people on morality and social justice while it has failed to demonstrate social justice to the people that work of its suppliers. Nike's business model demonstrates the capitalists atomized and self-interested subject synonymous with the consumer society and neo-classical economic theory.
Capitalism not activism
Nike's message was meant to inspire people to go for everything they believe in but their subliminal message just shows how much Nike gives primacy to profit over social good. While the company chose an opportune time to air the inspirational story of Colin Kaepernick, their timing was impeccable as the company waited till cries of injustice died. it is not only a win for Colin Kaepernick but also for Nike who is now being presented as heroic (Powell & Skarbek, 2006). However, to Nike, it is all business as they know that supporting Colin Kaepernick help they retain their place in the hearts of the African Americans and the other minority groups who are the company's ultimate customers for its overpriced apparels. Nike's social justice intuitive was therefore not activists but capitalism in disguise.
Wallowing in the Miasma of Colin Kaepernick's activists
Colin Kaepernick was involved in serious legal battles that required money, and Nike came to his rescue by singing a hefty contact deal with Colin Kaepernick. However as the saying goes, charity begins at home and Nike should have cleaned its hose before coming public about their social activists (De Winter, 2001). Nike is a capitalist company that could not wait till its image is clean before getting into athlete activism. it is important to understand that Nike was mainly concerned about the goodwill that could come with supporting athlete activists knowing too well that economic benefits would accrue including publicity and profits.
New Wave of the Anti-Sweatshop Movement
Antisweatshop movements are transnational advocacy networks. Nike has over the last ten years experiences the worst wave for its less than stellar labor practices. Nike has been in the news for operating sweatshops in third world countries. Nike e divested itself of production facilities and tapping into complex tiered networks of subcontractors in developing regions (Greenberg & Knight, 2004). The previous decade saw Nike struggle to clean its image from the child labor accusation and protests. The company's contact factory in Vietnam has been embroiled in legal tussles with workers who claim that they suffer perennial wage theft and verbal abuse. Some of them claim that they are overworked for more than 12 hours per shift in very hot and poorly ventilated sweatshops. Some even alleged that their colleagues had collapsed at their sewing machines.
Over the last two years, the company has also been accused of sacking employees without proper structures in places in their struggle to cut costs in Honduras and Hansae factory. In 2017, the company was also accused of denying the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) access to its contact factories to assess the working conditions. The independent monitoring group alleged that the company's contact factory labor practices are quite inhuman but they have no proper proof because they were denied access (Greenberg & Knight, 2004). If Nike was to speak on social justice, it should start by upholding social justice in its factories such as in Hansae where serious labor rights violation take place within abandon
Nike's current increased interest in athlete activisms is not centered on social justice but on their economic interest. Nike is clearly an opportunistic company that rides on the fourth wave of athlete activists for their economic interest because they had in the past been dogged by several accusations and legal battles surrounding its poor labor practices especially the accusation that it is operating sweatshops. You can only love Nike or love it because they know them to massage the ego of the local customers by backing the rebellious groups. The rebellious nature of Nike may rub the establishments the wrong way, but Nike being a capitalists company focuses on what resonates well with its target customers and rebellion does it for the company. Therefore, Nike's support for Colin Kaepernick's social justice activisms is all business which is a higher level of hypocrisy to the image that Colin Kaepernick intended to present.
De Winter, R. (2001). The Anti-Sweatshop Movement: Constructing Corporate Moral Agency in the Global Apparel Industry. Ethics & International Affairs, 15(02), 99-115. Doi: 10.1111/j.1747-7093.2001.tb00361.x
Greenberg, J., & Knight, G. (2004). Framing sweatshops: Nike, global production, and the American news media. Communication And Critical/Cultural Studies, 1(2), 151-175. Doi: 10.1080/14791420410001685368
Powell, B., & Skarbek, D. (2006). Sweatshops and third world living standards Are the jobsworth the sweat?. Journal Of Labor Research, 27(2), 263-274. Doi: 10.1007/s12122-006-1006-z
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