Betsy Ross Is Canceled

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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 livedand allegedly sewed the iconic, 13-star flag associated with the American Revolutionduring 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 shoea version of Nike’s popular Air Max 1to 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.

Not everyone agrees…

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.


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