Today, we wanted to capture what Nike’s amazing new campaign with Colin Kaepernick meant to the people who share the struggle that Colin kneeled for so we reached out to professional journalist Marcel Williams of Billboard and Vibe Magazine to encapsulate his feelings. Below are his words.
As a Black man in America, I’m constantly reminded that I don’t quite fit in; that I don’t quite belong. Growing up in Detroit, my mom shipped me off to private schools and suburban schools so that I would have a better quality of education. You see, the Detroit Public School system has been in disarray for all of my 34 years of life and while there are plenty who make it out of DPS just fine, the odds are stacked against them.
In Detroit, we have always been separate but we have never equal.
That’s not just a mantra for Detroit but rather for every African-American in this country. In the words of The Notorious B.I.G., “Either you’re slanging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot,” and neither one of those paths were for me. So my path was school. Get a great education. Go to college. Become somebody.
In the 4th grade, I attended a predominately white, Catholic elementary school in the suburbs of Detroit called Shrine Elementary. It was here that I learned that not only am I different but that people who looked like me were not wanted. I was picked on because of the way that I talked. I was picked on because of the way that I walked. Everyday, the same group of white kids would torment me until one day I started to fight back. Everyday, I would get suspended for fighting the same 2-3 kids. By the 5th grade, my English teacher would tell me that I could only hope to amount to becoming a janitor and my 6th grade homeroom teacher would call me a thug, a bum, and make all kinds of disparaging and racial remarks to me. This is what I thought my worth was after being in a school where none of the teachers or students looked like me.
My path isn’t unique to me. This is the struggle of African-American kids throughout America to this day. The only heroes we see are in our movies, sports, and music.
That’s why when Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee to protest social injustice in America, he became my hero. A man four years younger than me, inspired me and showed me the way. He showed me how to fight. He showed me that there’s someone that not only looks like me but is in a position to do something about it. Colin Kaepernick taught me that my beliefs are worth all sacrifice.
This is why Nike’s new ad campaign is so important. In a racially charged environment where African-Americans protesting for our equal rights is considered “un-American”, one of the largest apparel companies in the world stood with us. They saw our fight and our struggle and decided to lend their powerful and influential voice to our cause. Nike saw it to put their bottom line and their market share in harms way to do the RIGHT thing. The right thing. In a society where capitalism rules everything around us, a multi-billion dollar business said to hell with capitalism, let’s do the right thing.
Thank you, Nike. Thank for your not only supporting Kaepernick and for stepping up but thank you for showing us that we’re not alone. Thank you for showing us that we have allies.
– Marcel Williams