Kaepernick Quick to Condemn US Slavery, Silent on Nike Ties to Chinese Slave Labor

Colin Kaepernick
Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Since his debut as a leading athlete protester against the United States, Colin Kaepernick has time and again slammed the U.S. over slavery, even though it was eliminated more than 150 years ago. Yet, Kaepernick has remained utterly silent as his financial backer, Nike, employs slave labor in China to make its products.

This month, news broke that giant multinational corporations including Nike have been lobbying in congress against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a bill that seeks to put an end to the slave labor camps China employs to manufacture many of the products sold by big corporations in the west.

Nike, along with manufacturers including Apple, Patagonia, Adidas, and many others, was named in a study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) that identifies 83 international corporations that use factories where the ruling Communist Party of China uses thousands of Uyghur Muslims as slave labor.

Also, nearly 200 labor and human rights groups recently launched a campaign claiming that “virtually the entire apparel industry is tainted by forced Uyghur and Turkic Muslim labour.” The campaign insists that 80 percent of the cotton used to make clothing in China was picked in Xinjiang province using slave labor.

Colin Kaepernick has been utterly silent on all this news, even as he has benefited greatly from the multimillion-dollar contract he has with Nike. The sportswear giant has produced multiple shoes and signature jerseys carrying Kaepernick’s name, face, and slogans.

Meanwhile, even as his patron benefits from Chinese slavery in real-time today, the former San Francisco 49er second-string quarterback — who is more famous for his political pronouncements and activism than his playing — has utterly ignored China’s modern slave labor system. Yet, at the same time, Kapernick has been a constant critic of America’s long-ago connections to slavery.

Just to name a few of Kaepernick’s proclamations about slavery in America, only a month ago the former NFL player was accusing American police departments of being rooted in chattel slavery. He also called the police slave catchers in 2017.

During our Independence Day celebrations this year, Kaepernick claimed that America’s birthday is nothing to celebrate because “Black people have been dehumanized, brutalized, criminalized, and terrorized by America for centuries.”

The former player indulged similar hatred of the July Fourth holiday in 2019 when he posted an out-co-context quote by Frederick Douglas who exclaimed that the Independence Day holiday is a holiday for white people, not slaves.

Kaepernick also raised a stink after Nike announced it intended to put out a shoe to commemorate the Betsy Ross flag. Kaepernick claimed that the Ross flag represented American slavery causing the sportswear giant to abandon its plans to produce the patriotic shoe.

The former NFL player also wore a “Kunta Kinte” shirt and alluded to the claim that blacks are still treated like slaves in America today.

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