Burn your Nikes? No, Boycott Nike

This timely article speaks loudly and clearly for itself.  I received it compliments of CounterPunch at  https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/09/07/burn-your-nikes-how-about-boycott-them-instead/

My introduction:  Since there are no WordPress buttons on Counter Punch, I contacted the writer for permission to cut and paste his article here, in my blog. He replied with an enthusiastic “yes.”

I’ve always known about Nike, and I make no apologies when I say that anyone, including the sudden American “black” hero Kaepernick, who endorses Nike is also endorsing Nike’s slaver conditions in all of their sweat shops; their criminal anti-human rights stance.  Nike is a vile capitalist exploiter and predator, make no mistake and make no mistake that Kaepernick is fully aware of this – no one can be that ignorant when they take huge piles of money from their handlers.  The money Kaepernick is receiving is slave labour money and I find that deceptive and his “take the knee” performance now a hypocritical travesty of protest that turns out very remunerative and convenient for himself.

The other thing I have to say is about a society that buys into the whole fashion industry.  I like to walk barefoot as I know it to be a very healthy way to go which a lifetime has taught me.  However society has a way to shame you, or force you, to wear shoes and few stop to wonder why? Simple to understand when you read this article.  Shoes are very big money and if more people went barefoot and more people cared about keeping their environment clean and safe for bare feet, some of those money piles would dwindle, would they not, even if only in losses of incremental sales.  Greedy corporations like Nike are astute manipulators of psychology and always creating auras of acceptance for their products.  Parts of society are harnessed to produce useless garments and parts of society are cajoled, conned, pushed and forced into wearing compliance.

No shirt, no shoes, no service.

Quote: “The United States alone bought nearly seven pairs of shoes a person in 2016. What a ridiculous society we live in! We buy our way into extinction, keeping our fellow humans in slavery through the process.”
Burn Your Nikes?

Nick Pemberton says don’t burn your Nikes, boycott them instead.

Burn Your Nikes? How About Boycott Them Instead

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“You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem or you shouldn’t be playing. You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country”

— Donald Trump

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt”

— Colin Kaepernick

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.

— Malcolm X

Nike’s catchphrase “Just Do It” was inspired by murderer Gary Gilmore’s famous last words. Nike has been a bloodbath ever since. In the 1990s, there was real pressure on Nike to change their nightmarish working conditions. Those were the days when we cared about slavery.  Nike cleaned up its image and not much else. Since then they have been peddling apparel without consequence, save a few brave protestors.

Nike appeared to have changed its course to some degree, but recent findings tell a different story. in 2016 Nike denied the Worker Rights Consortium access to 690 supplier factories says labornotes.org. The 2018 documentary Behind The Swoosh details the sickening conditions. Piled together in cement boxes infested with rats, surrounded by sewers, workers tried to survive on 1.25$ a day. Jim Keady, former coach of St. John’s soccer, says he lost 25 pounds working in Indonesia on Nike’s wages.

Workers end up working overtime to compensate, never seeing their children. These children soon go into sweatshops at a young age themselves. The full cycle hits in Behind The Swoosh when we see the piles of Nike shoes brought from overseas and dumped for burning. The toxins burned in these shoes give the children cancer.

Resistance (I hesitate to even use that word anymore) to Nike is handled by the mafia bosses, according to the documentary. When Keady and Leslie Kretzu tried to get near a Nike factory they were surrounded by security. They then were followed by factory security, who were highly linked to the local mafia. Keady and Kretzu met with a local organizer Dita Sari who was put in prison and tortured for her union organizing.

There is no way to describe Nike’s working conditions other than modern day slavery.Workers work all day, breaking their backs and numbing their fingers. Some figures estimates that 250 million children under 15 work in sweatshops today. If one tries to organize, they are silenced with force. One has to wonder what is greater, the hunger or the hopelessness?

In the age of climate change, water evaporates and heat is extreme. Workers in sweatshops can work for 100 hours a week. Sometimes one can’t sleep for days. This never makes the news. Meanwhile Americans buy and buy. Materialism is the undiagnosed disease that uproots our souls and replaces them with possessions. Achieving material gains and rising in social status eclipses any capacity for empathy we have for the unseen.

Nike is not alone. The clothing, shoes and retail industry is amongst the most brutal in the world. They primarily target poor girls to do their bidding. Workers face tremendous amounts of abuse and wage theft and have little power to stop it. These industries are amongst the most environmentally heinous as well. From animal skin to fossil fuel to coal to waste to dangerous chemicals, the shoe industry wreaks havoc.  The United States alone bought nearly seven pairs of shoes a person in 2016. What a ridiculous society we live in! We buy our way into extinction, keeping our fellow humans in slavery through the process.

Like war, slavery has become so normalized it is barely a story anymore. We (this author sadly included) are most likely to think of slavery when it intersects when one of our rich and famous household names in the endless petty culture wars that postures as American politics. Colin Kaepernick may be my second favorite spokesperson for Nike (after the greatest athlete of all time, Serena Williams). Yet one has to be disappointed in Kaepernick’s latest ad campaign for Nike.

While Nike workers make a dollar a day, Kaepernick is raking in millions for his endorsement deal.  Kaepernick has exposed police violence at home but the war on the working class remains invisible. As soon as supporting the man became trendy, the slaveholder Nike touted him as inspirational. The brand became taking a stand (or a knee). But who will take a stand against the liberal slavery industrial complex?

It is possible to have a left critique of Black Lives Matter, a movement Kaepernick is often linked with. Bruce Dixon writes it better than I can here.  I’ll just say it is hard to imagine Malcolm X appearing in a Nike ad. Malcolm X would surely link police violence at home with slave labor and imperialist violence abroad. Above all, Malcolm was a curious and open-minded internationalist. In the age of Trump an uncompromising working class figure like Malcolm has never been more necessary. A giant like Malcolm reminds us that there was a time when souls mattered more than soles.

The liberal resistance was once again blind to real world politics in the age of Trump-like sensationalism. How many fools pledged their support for this organization that has more buried more harassments than #MeToo has even brought to light? How many suckers concerned about Barack Obama’s legacy turned away from brown children who are starving, enslaved and infested with cancer? How many people complaining about ignorant climate deniers went ahead and endorsed an environmental disgrace? The outpouring of support for Nike was just as sick as the John McCain procession just a week earlier. Could no one see through the liberal propaganda that offered trendy symbolism with one hand and slave labor on the other?

Heroes are hard to come by in the age of Trump, and one can see why people are tempted to tip their caps to Kap. The paranoia that the ex-NFL star inspires in Mr. Trump and his rabid supporters is impressive. They hilariously began burning their Nikes after Kaepernick appeared in a commercial for Nike. Note that Nike’s slave labor and environmental destruction did not move these people an inch.

Now what exactly will these Trump supporters be thinking of Nike? Are they just another globalist institution pedaling transgenderism, science and vaccines for all? Is Nike on the wrong side of the Qanon wars? Perhaps they were upset by the fact that Nike’s sweatshops contained more female workers than male workers, surely believing that the abuse by their bosses was consensual, their courage to stand up to them a witch hunt, and the lack of male workers a serious plot in the campaign to castrate all men vis-a-vis the lasers on Hillary’s pantsuit? Or perhaps it was the multiculturalism poured into each shoe by this equal opportunity employer who mysteriously ran most of its shady business out of black and brown countries? Why do they make you take off your shoes at airport security anyways? Is it because the shoes are Muslim?

Where does one start with the layers of contradiction? The anger against products made in China only comes when a “veteran-killing terrorist”a.k.a. an educated black man is endorsed by Nike. Does burning the Nike shoe, made in China, constitute less of a crime than burning an American flag, made in China? How about burning a MAGA hat, made in China? What kind of snob are you if you don’t give a hoot about child slavery and only become concerned with “elitism” after your least favorite football player appears in a commercial? Who burns their 120$ shoes as a protest against elitism anyways? Across the world, burning these shoes isn’t cool, it’s cancer inducing.

Those looking to explain away Trumpism through a backlash against globalism, elitism, liberalism, etc. may be on to something. But when Trump targets globalism he targets diversity, not slave labor. When Trump targets elitism he targets education and free thinking, not the 1%. When Trump targets liberalism, he is not taking on the Democrats from the left, he is challenging the notion of a pluralistic multiethnic society with women as equal citizens.

Perhaps once and for all Trumpism can be exposed for what is truly is. A movement whose only depth is the return of the white male ethos and whose only breadth is a coalition amongst the most angry, privileged and reactionary characters in today’s grim political landscape.

Trump and his fans once again whine about something legitimate, but for all the wrong reasons. They stumble upon the reality of the world only when it touches their fragile egos. They remain too ignorant and self-absorbed to know about anything else. Then again we all allow and endorse slavery from companies like Nike everyday, no matter who is in power.

For a moment let us dwell on the fact that a real, devastating, and hopeless pain is upon our sisters and brothers in sweatshops across the world. Are we this numb to the world’s most cruel condition of slave labor? The left may want to blame this all on capitalism, the liberals may want to blame this all on fascism and the Trumpettes may want to blame this all on liberalism. Above all we should agree that slavery in all forms is a cruel and unnecessary condition and that stopping it is urgent. So the next time one buys their shoes, just avoid a sweatshop. It’s not that hard. Here are some options to start. Many more options are available online or locally.

Boycott Nike. Just Do It.

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24 thoughts on “Burn your Nikes? No, Boycott Nike

  1. rawgod

    I was leery of this ad from the day I heard about it, but I was waiting to see how Nike was handling it. Were they donating their 500+% profits back into doing something good, or were they going to pay Kaepernick millions to use his face to sell more of their products? I guess I got my answer…

    Reply
  2. hughcurtler

    No question: this was a business decision. And Ford has decided to support Nike. Those are good things, but it doesn’t erase Nike’s terrible business practices in the past. This is certainly true.

    Reply
  3. colettebytes

    ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,’ Agatha Christie Quote.

    I have to admit that I have stayed away from the whole Colin Kaepernik thing. It has escalated into one of those nonsensical distractions that averts eyes from real world problems.

    Slavery is very real, and a constant theme of society. It is actually fed by mindless individuals who latch on to
    misplaced ideals (and are lured by rewards).

    As for shoes… We’ll I don’t buy name brands in anything. I won’t paint myself as ‘ethical’ because in all honesty, I don’t research where all my clothes originally come from. But I do practise constraint. I do not have many shoes and no leather ones. I stick with Safety Boots for serious walking, and wear flip flops or cheap flat walking sandals in the summer. I am barefoot inside as much as possible. I rarely wear fashion footwear (heels) and those few shoes are years and years old. The only pair of namebrand sports shoes I ever had, was twenty five odd years ago, when I bought a pair of ‘Brooks’ Tennis Trainers. I generally avoid sports shoes now as they are vastly over-priced (like most fashion wear) and encourage slavery and crime (steeling, knock-off’s etc.). I actually repair a lot of my clothing, making it last its entire life. I reuse zips and buttons from worn out stuff and turn jeans into shorts when knees are gone. I have not bought much new clothing (panties being the exception) and tend to pick up some items in charity shops that people have thrown away. I do buy seconds as well. All manufacturers have a pile of them, so rather than send them to the Garbage tip, they go to budget retailers for next to nothing. They would rather get pennies than have to pay for their surplus go into landfill.

    Does my consumerism support slavery? Possibly… I don’t always know where cheap purchases come from. But then, I have not got the means to buy expensive. Well, that is not strictly true… My husband does, but he chooses not to supply me with those means, so it is virtually the same thing.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Choices, big and small. For me there’s two types of shoes when barefoot isn’t possible. Sandals (currently “Keens” because they last forever and they have a closed toe so can be used in light construction) and a most comfortable cold and wet weather ankle-length shoe from Tasmania.

      Reply
  4. stolzyblog

    The author entirely ignores the point of Kaepernick’s decision in the context of his individualized and independent ethical activity over the past 3 years, while insisting, with no proof or knowledge, that he has acted in awareness of the slave labor situation. The author has done this in order to promote his own pet peeve. This encapsulates exactly what is wrong, suffering, and diseased within contemporary discourse: Fuck trying to penetrate with heart and thinking the intertwined complexity of contemporary ethics and news events. Just masturbate yourself to simplified conceptions which permit you to feel good and move on in the illusion that you have diagnosed reality with good judgement. Meanwhile, all you have really accomplished is to add to crushing morass of divisiveness clouding the cultural atmosphere.

    Reply
  5. Brookingslib

    Very thought provoking article. I have to admit, I’ve never really bought in to the whole boycott thing. Shaming these behemoth corporations into submission seems a long shot at best, although we’ve seen recent successes here and there. To me, the real issue is the power of the corpations themselves. How have we let this happen? Our politicians continue to drink at the trough of unlimited money from these giants. Yet, it we rarely hear a damn thing about reforming our campaign finance laws. Why? Because most of big media depends on these corporate dollars for revenue. Besides, they would much rather cover a ridiculous tweet from Trump. Better ratings I guess.
    My point here is that I think we should concentrate on reducing the power and influence these corporations currently enjoy. How? Only through comprehensive legislation. Any candidate running for office needs to make this priority number one. Polls continually show Americans overwhelmingly support overturning the disastrous Citizens United decision. But it’s up to us, the voting public, to force Washington to act. I just don’t think boycotts are the answer. Let’s change policy instead.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Boycotts are in our own hands while changing policy depends upon the corporate prostitutes, aka, politicians, so we have a better chance for making real change through boycott than through policy change which despite any and all electoral promises, will never go against the power wielders and their pet dogs (or pythons) we the people vote for. A very easy boycott that would have been certain to succeed would have been when that drastic airport “security” was established following 9-11. One week, or at most one month of hardly anyone showing up at any airport and “security” would have been history. But sheeple will be sheeple. They’ll bray their discontent or tweet it, and they will perform. They will accept being fleeced, slaughtered, drawn and quartered and served for dinner on the rich man’s table. It’s what a sheeple is for, after all. We have the power, we just choose not to exercise is. We don’t have any political power. Elections are a snakes ‘n ladders game. We have acting power however, if we ever realize that all revolutions entail action, not political expectations.

      Reply
      1. Brookingslib

        I really can’t argue with you. Like I said, well targeted boycotts can work. Maybe I’m too old school to think we can change things politically. Perhaps it’s going to take going after these corporate pariah’s to affect change in this country. Let’s face it, they run the damn country anyway. Good intelligent debate…as usual.

  6. wolfess

    I’ll be honest, I’ve never owned a pair of Nike’s b/c I have much better places to put my $100+; that said, I had no idea of the unconscionable working conditions their workers are forced into — to my way of thinking boycotting is nowhere NEAR enough of a reaction to this criminal enterprise! If we are so convinced that we (Americans) are such good people we need to do more to speak out against the corporate terrorists in this society — and yes, the conditions they force their workers to endure is nothing less than TERRORISM! Consider THAT on this, of all, DAYS!

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Wolfess. I have a personal, “ingrained” saying: if it’s corporate, it’s criminal. Can’t have one without the other, so whenever we encounter “corporate” activity, from ads to consumer “goods” (evils!) we are encountering crime at some level. But then isn’t the capitalist system a completely criminal enterprise, and doesn’t everyone know that by now? I’m not talking about legally defined crime, but that which entails morality. By definition, consumers, i.e. those who consume what they could do without, are all immoral and criminal, some deliberately, most ignorantly.

      Reply
      1. wolfess

        I really like your “consumer evils” — I might use that in my web travels! What was that ‘Roger Rabbit’ phrase … “I’m not really evil … I’m just drawn that way.” [Jessica Rabbit] I have to wonder if this isn’t what far too many of our fellow peons think when they give in to the ads that constantly bombard us. 🤔

      2. wolfess

        You are quite right Sha`Tara, using the word ‘think’ in a sentence about our consumed consumers was a definite faux pas. I guess I still try to think positive, but that is growing increasing difficult when I look for something to watch on the ‘idiot box’ — Big Brother; [nose] Pickers; Naked & [SHOULD BE] Afraid 😱😱😱

  7. Phil Huston

    Nikes don’t fit me anyway, I have narrow heels and can lace them like a corset and still walk out of them. Kaepernick’s jersey was still one of the top sellers when he wasn;t on anyone’s roster. I agree with Obama (sadly) that Trumo is a symtom, not a cause and would be much more dangerous if he kept his own council and the rest of the world in the dark, so there’s a plus side to rabid narcissism. And about Colin – when he first took a knee there was no $ incentive. Whether I agree with him or not, it has (as yet) not become illegal to have an opinion regardless of the factionalization of the world’s population. Slave labor? they could revolt, they could take a knee, call a media outlet, riot, strike, refuse — but there are times when food speaks louder than pride. When everyone is willing to pay $300 for a pair of shoes so that the living conditions of the enslaved shoemakers are up to snuff, it will stop being an issue. $ “runs” the world. Probably in Nikes.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Good comment; you concluded your own argument and what’s to add? Thanks, Phil. Oh well,one thing: what if, instead of being willing to fork out $300 (US? – meaning $400 Cdn) everyone would be willing to start going barefoot whenever and wherever convenient and boycotting those establishments that insist on shoes being worn? Bare feet are beautiful and often the last part to age on that pathetic defective Earthian body…

      Reply
      1. Phil Huston

        There should be some sort of agreed upon level of cleanliness in given environments. I liked the old biblical bits about shaking the dust of your feet at the people with closed minds. Particularly about the blue eyed feel good Jesus. The other day? I learned if Jesus was alive today he’d ride a Harley. I have the handout to prove it. Yep, bearded blue eyed feel good Jesus as Easy Rider. What next, velvet Elvis Jesus? Cheap sweatshop Jesus embroidered rugs for sale in the corner of gas station parking lots next to the bonsai trees? Or the van full of Nike counterfeits? Now THERES a sweatshop. The places that knock of the brand name sweatshop products…

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        In my teen years, in Canada, there was a 2 cents return on beer bottles. I remember a sign that said Jesus Saves! and the graffiti under said “Beer Bottles” Jesus wasn’t quite as ambitious or capitalistic in those days. Oh sure, he had to have muddy blond hair and blue eyes, but I think he identified with us war protesters and Hippies. But yes, he was the feel good Jesus of instant salvation through cheap grace. After all if people are happy they give more.

      3. wolfess

        Ahhhh yes bare feet! I am 65 and still spend most of my days wearing nothing on my feet; always have. In fact, bare feet caused my last pregnancy — I bought a blue lightbulb at the grocery store and took a kitchen chair back to the bedroom to put it in the overhead light but discovered I could stand on the bed to do it so I left the chair in the hallway and ran into it in my excitement to show Mike how good the bedroom looked in blue! It broke my foot and I got pregnant while I was recovering!

  8. Sha'Tara Post author

    And the lesson in the story, girls, is don’t ever leave a chair in the hallway or you’re sure to get pregnant. Of course that isn’t the whole story, you see. Keep in mind that blue light bulb. Then there’s the broken foot and a guy named Mike, but he probably had little to do with the entire drama. No, I think it’s definitely a sequence of chair in hallway, blue light bulb in bedroom and broken foot that leads to pregnancy. I wonder if a study should be commissioned… any volunteers? Oh, did I forget the standing on the bed and screwing in the light bulb? This is more complex than I first thought… Forget the study, we have a NYT bestseller here.

    Reply

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