Nike pulls flag-themed shoe. Betsy Ross: beloved symbol of American folklore or avatar of white supremacy?
While no one seems to be saying that Ross herself was an evil racist, the fact that she lived—and allegedly sewed the iconic, 13-star flag associated with the American Revolution—during slaveholding times is apparently enough to ensure that she and her flag be canceled.
The controversy comes after Nike announced a new Fourth of July-themed sneaker, made in red, white, and blue materials and adorned on the heel with the Betsy Ross flag. After shipping the shoe—a version of Nike’s popular Air Max 1—to stores, the company then abruptly called for their return.
“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,” was all a Nike spokesperson would say. But the shoes were reportedly yanked at the request of Colin Kaepernick, former NFL football player and current Nike representative.
According to some, the Ross flag has been co-opted by racists as a symbol of white nationalism, and therefore we’re just supposed to just cede it to them and move on.
The Betsy Ross flag is not “the American flag”, and as I’m sure you’re aware, it’s been appropriated as a symbol of white nationalism. Would you approve of a Confederate flag sneaker? Or do you consider that an American flag too? https://t.co/ReX29V1RIo
— Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) July 2, 2019
Not everyone agrees…
To be clear: I don’t think it’s wise to cede national or civic symbols to racists because they want them to be able to publicly present their ideology as “patriotic,” and what America should be, which is exactly what is being contested. Let them have the stars and bars.
— Adam Serwer???? (@AdamSerwer) July 2, 2019
For the record, “whether Ross actually designed the flag is a matter of dispute,” as The Washington Post notes. “There is little evidence to back up assertions by her descendants that turned the Philadelphia-based upholsterer into a national heroine in the 1870s.
Nike’s decision to pull the shoes sparked an immediate backlash, especially among folks on the right. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said he’s canceling incentives the state had offered Nike to build a plant there.
Instead of celebrating American history the week of our nation’s independence, Nike has apparently decided that Betsy Ross is unworthy, and has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism. 5/
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
headline fix: this data wasn’t ‘collected,’ it was stolen. https://t.co/d1U8y2P2dF
— troy farah (@filth_filler) July 2, 2019
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