Nike reportedly has taken its new Fourth of July sneakers off the market after Colin Kaepernick told the company some people would find them offensive.
The sneakers, called The Air Max 1 USA, had what’s called a “Betsy Ross Flag” on the heel, a flag that was made during the American Revolution. It came with 13 stars that form a circle, which represent the 13 colonies that were in the United States when it was founded.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Kaepernick, who has an endorsement deal with Nike, saw the sneakers online and let the company know that he and others considered it offensive. Mainly, because it was flown during slavery times.
According to some reports, the flag has also been used by white supremacist groups as a form of protest against the growing diversity in the United States, with a primary example cited as that of students at a high school in Michigan who waved it during one of their football games in 2016 while they were playing an opponent who had a number of minority players with their parents in the stands. The superintendent of the school district later issued an apology.
At one point, Nike sent the Fourth of July sneakers to retailers and asked for them to be shipped back without explaining why. They were supposed to be released this week in celebration of Independence Day.
“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured the old version of the American flag,” said a spokeswoman for the footwear company.
The sneakers have also been removed from Nike’s website and apps.
Kaepernick has been known as a quarterback-turned-activist since he began protesting injustice and police brutality against minorities by kneeling during pregame performances of the national anthem at his NFL games.
He first did it in 2016 as a player for the San Francisco 49ers, and it was his way of responding to the mistreatment of Black people in the United States.
The 31-year-old hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016, and after filing a collusion grievance against the league he was given a settlement in February that was said to be less than $10 million.
Kaepernick also starred in a Nike campaign last year that encouraged people to chase their dreams, even if requires going against popular opinion.
Some disagreed with the ad and promised to boycott the brand, but many supported Kaepernick and gave Nike credit for working with him.