Sonoma State reacts to Kaepernick advertisement

In a controversial move Thursday, Nike aired its first commercial featuring Colin Kaepernick, former NFL player who famously took a knee during the national anthem in 2016 in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. Sonoma State students and faculty have mixed reactions. The approximately two-minute ad, which is narrated by Kaepernick, depicts a series of successful athletes, while Kaepernick tells viewers to “dream crazy.” A still from the Nike campaign shows a close-up of Kaepernick’s face with the caption “Believe in something. Even if it means giving up everything.” Public reaction to the Nike advertisement has been mixed, with some calling for a boycott of Nike and even going so far as to burn their Nike gear, while others are supporting the company’s decision. CNN reports that a college in Missouri, College of the Ozarks, is even dropping their affiliation with Nike. However, according to the Huffington Post, Nike’s sales are up 29% from the same period last year- -showing an increase linked to the ad campaign. Sonoma State students and faculty reflect the nation’s mixed reaction, with some coming out in support of what Kaepernick has supported, while others are unhappy with the advertisements. Lewayne Grant, an AMCS major at Sonoma State, supports Kaepernick. “I feel his image is very strong,” Grant said. “He stood up for something that he believed in, even if it meant losing everything he dreamed of his entire life. But I feel at this moment it’s going pay off for him.” Grant will continue to shop with Nike. However, other students don’t feel the same way. Alex Farfan, a Kinesiology major at SSU said, “For Nike to come out and get involved with this whole political issue was a bad business move. Colin Kaepernick was and is still a great athlete, but he did not ‘sacrifice’ everything. He is still able to make a lot of money due to his new Nike ad. He is still able to live comfortably and be with family and friends. The ones who really sacrifice everything for this country are our troops.” Although Farfan is unhappy with Nike’s new ad campaign, he is still going to buy Nike products. Dr. Janet Hess, Professor of Art History/African and Diasporic Studies at SSU has a background in social justice. “NFL players have kneeled in the past for pro-life causes without backlash. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Poverty Law Center knelt at Civil Rights Movement protests in prayer,” Hess said. “Kaepernick himself was inspired by a friend in the military who told him it was a respectful way to indicate the disproportionate violence against African Americans [that violence against African Americans is disproportionate is acknowledged by the United States Supreme Court in McCleskey v Kemp].” One thing a majority seems to agree on is that Nike is less interested in social justice than they are in making money. Farfan said, “The ad does make me question Nike’s true values. Do they really care about making improvements to their product or are they just here to make more money than every other brand?” Hess agrees. “Nike as a corporation just wants to make money,” she said. “They are calculating that being provocative will do so. Kaepernick took a real risk in his action to raise people’s awareness. There is not much risk for either Nike as a corporation, or for people who dispose of their shoes. Why not do something productive to advance your beliefs?”