To celebrate Independence Day, Nike planned to release a shoe featuring the Betsy Ross American flag. Instead, the company pulled the shoe two days before.
In a statement to CNBC, Nike decided to pull the shoe based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.
Colin Kaepernick, former NFL player and company endorser, reportedly called for the company to remove the shoe, saying it has an association with an era of slavery.
However, the fact that the flag was created during a time when slavery was prominent in America does not mean it promotes slavery or racism.
By no means should racism or slavery be glorified. We have seen examples of removing statues or names directly associated with promoting slavery, such as the removal of the Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston statues in Austin.
We live in a time of “cancel culture” where many use social media to take stands for social issues and call out people or practices that are deemed problematic.
But history can’t be canceled.
The Betsy Ross flag was used as early as 1777 as one of the nation’s first flags, with its stars representing the 13 American colonies. It is a symbol that is very significant to the United States’ history.
Calling for the removal of these shoes is a step too far on the part of cancellation culture.
There are scattered uses of the flag by supremacist groups, however most people do not associate it with those groups but rather as a symbol of the American revolution.
Pulling a shoe that showcases a piece of American history is a slippery slope. It could be argued that it’s a form of censorship and a direction our nation shouldn’t go down.
Instead of attempting to remove objects created during America’s dark past, we should instead appreciate how far we’ve come since.