Ground Control Parenting – Carol Sutton Lewis

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Ages 13-15

Talk To Your Children About Colin Kaepernick and Nike

The new Nike ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick has everyone talking, and we should be talking to our children about it. As you probably know, Nike has made Kaepernick the face of its 30th anniversary campaign. Kaepernick announced this a few days ago by tweeting a close up of his face, with the message “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just Do It.”

There is a lot to talk with your children about with this campaign. Here are some suggestions:

Talk about why Kaepernick is kneeling. If you haven’t been talking with your children about this already, now is a good time to talk with them about what why he kneels during the national anthem at the start of football games. Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality and social injustice. As he explained in a 2016 interview, he took a knee “…to bring awareness and make people realize what is really going on in this country. This country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all and it is not happening for all right now”. Why is he taking this stand? “This stand wasn’t for me. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and effect change. I’m in a position where I can do that, and I’m going to do that for people who can’t.”

His critics, who include President Trump, suggest that kneeling during the anthem is unpatriotic and disrespectful of the military. Kaepernick has been clear in his response that he has no issue with the military: “I have great respect for the men and women who have fought for this country. I have family and friends that have fought for this country. They fight for freedom, they fight for liberty and justice for everyone. And that [liberty and justice] is not happening here.” Despite his clarity, critics still assert that he is offending the military.

Talk about the consequences of his kneeling. As Kaepernick continued to take a knee in 2016 and 2017, other players across the league kneeled as well, while others off the field continued to criticize him. He opted out of his 49’ers contract in March 2017 before the team could release him, and despite being one of the best quarterbacks in the league, he has not been hired since. He has since filed a grievance asserting that the league’s owners conspired to keep him out because of his protests, which will soon go to a full hearing.

Talk about the public reaction to the Nike campaign.
Initial public reaction to this campaign has been mixed, with many people applauding it and promising to buy more Nike, while others calling for a boycott of Nike products and posting images of themselves destroying their Nike wear. Shares fell 3% on Tuesday after the news of the new campaign was announced. President Trump tweeted his disappointment with Nike, while many others tweeted their support. Several military veterans came to the defense of Kaepernick on social media, saying that they fought for his right to protest peacefully. How have your children and their friends reacted to the campaign?

Talk about Nike’s decision to stand with Kaepernick. Nike, a public company, has the NFL as a major client. This ad campaign was a risky move which, considering the divided public opinion about Kaepernick’s stance, could impact sales of all Nike merchandise and damage its relationship with the NFL. It is also important to note, however, that support for Kaepernick’s position is greatest among 18-34 year olds, a target market for Nike. While Nike hasn’t commented on whether it anticipated backlash, it have positioned itself to whether the storm. Talk about what companies have to consider when they take controversial positions, and watch together what happens to Nike stock over the next few days and weeks.

Talk about the message in the ad campaign. Believing in something and being willing to sacrifice everything for it. This was the story of so many of our American heroes, so many of our African-American leaders, including Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. Talk about how tough it is to stand alone, but this is how progress is made. When Kaepernick was asked in 2016 if he worried that he might get cut, he responded “I don’t know. But if I do I know I did what’s right and I can live with that at the end of the day.”

Kudos to Nike for taking a stand and supporting Kaepernick. Hope this sparks good conversations in your family. And take a look at the amazing Nike ad for this campaign that went live today:

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