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Republicans Are Mad at Nike and Colin Kaepernick Again

Colin Kaepernick

Nike has reportedly cancelled plans to release a sneaker bearing an early design of the American flag after Colin Kaepernick let the company know that the “Betsy Ross flag” has racist and offensive connotations. Nike brought Kaepernick on a spokesperson last year, largely because of his dedication to free speech and his right to protest racial injustice. So it’s very cool to hear that they’re actually listening to him on these issues.

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And, just like when Kaepernick was brought in to Nike in the first place, it made a whole lot of conservatives real mad. They seem to view this as part of Kaepernick’s (nonexistent) long-standing mission to destroy the American flag and everything it stands for.

There are a whole lot of Republican lawmakers and far-conservative pundits with a newfound passion for historical textiles angry about the denigration of the American flag–despite the fact that this is not the American flag.

Seriously, how do they not get this?

I mean … no. No, that’s a different flag, and that’s the whole point. My favorite part of all of this is how hard a whole lot of men are suddenly ride-or-die stans for Betsy Ross.

If they did Google her, they’d learn that no one even knows for sure if she made that flag.

In recent years, the so-called Betsy Ross flag has found a new life in some white supremacist circles. In 2016, a group of students from a majority-white school brought the flag and a Trump banner to a football game in an attempt to intimidate those from the other school, whose students were primarily POC.

That’s just one example. At the time, Cle J. Jackson, the president of the NAACP Greater Grand Rapids Branch, said that this early flag had been appropriated by “the so-called ‘Patriot Movement’ and other militia groups who are responding to America’s increasing diversity with opposition and racial supremacy.”

This is, apparently, the first time a lot of people are hearing about this.

Just because you’ve never heard of a thing, that doesn’t make it any less true, Joe. The designers at Nike seem not to have been aware of the connotations, but they also then displayed an ability to listen and learn.

(image: Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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