Colin Kaepernick, Identity Politics, and “Just Do It…”

I was hoping this nonsense would end, but no such luck. In fact, in full disclosure, the only way this stops is when we either tire of it due to shear volume or we become far more discerning as a culture and as Christians. I’m in questioning how likely either appear to be…

By now you have probably seen Nike’s messaging.  For those of you who haven’t or those who haven’t dissected it carefully, watch this thoroughly:

Seems pretty tame, doesn’t it?  There are several mischaracterizations I caught, but let’s keep this one pretty simple.  It tends to get as complex as you allow it all by itself, assuming you’re thinking in critical fashion.

Skip the images of athletes with disformations and apparent disabilities.  Why?  Because they don’t want special attention.  If you’ve ever in your life asked a single honest person with a disability if they want special attention, the uniform answer is a resounding “NO” from them.  They want the same things we all want – to be treated well by people and judged on their merits and not their appearance.  They also especially don’t want sympathy.  Empathy and understanding, yes.  Your special allowances out of misplaced obligation, no.  And before you question this too heavily, I have in fact asked these questions straight up so that I could confirm my suspicions.

Nope.  You should be concentrating on a couple different things instead.  Now, it should be said, I have no fundamental disagreement with the candor and tone of the ad.  I like the idea that we’re to strive to achieve all we can when we set a goal.  That message is key and all too real.  However, when Nike chooses a theme, an ad, and a spokesperson for those things, they don’t do so lightly.

CK is an average to sub NFL QB.  He’s got a ranking of about 64 or so.  That’s not bad, that’s not great.  Ask yourself why Nike chose an average to below average QB that isn’t employed during his peak years as their inspirational ad?  Identity politics is your answer.  And identity politics is just about as ugly as you can imagine.  Simply put, identity politics is the trend to build exclusive alignments based on likenesses rather than merit.  I’m a white male conservative.  We’re becoming outlawed here in the states slowly but surely, but that’s a topic for another day.  Today, I’m assumed to throw in with others like me and we are assumed to oppose anyone not like us.  Do you believe that to be true?  What if it were?

Today, not only do we build these ‘identity politics’ around social groups, but we pick winners and losers based on who can assert the largest victim status the quickest.  So the employed Jewish man could never compete with the unemployed Muslim woman in a straight up identity politics brawl.  No sir.  There is inherent victimology associated with that religion, sex, and work status, therefor she would be granted the high ground by default.  On a side note, you should be asking yourself ‘who’ or ‘whom’ is granting these statuses by the way.  The answer is simple, so I won’t be providing it for you.

Around the 30 second mark in that video, CK, whose face has been obscured or not completely cleared prior, turns in a standing and stoic fashion as the his voice over says, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”  That is a huge statement to make.  Monster.  Colossal.  He’s no longer implying, but stating he believed in his ‘take a knee’ movement and it cost him ‘everything’ he has.  Bologna.  <— And that’s the nicest way I can put it.

That’s pretty rich…  For a person who has already earned $43,479,216.00 from the NFL to play a handful of games, and hasn’t reported yet what Nike is paying for him to headline their 30th anniversary series of ads, “sacrificing everything” isn’t an apt description of his situation.  It borders on criminal to even imply it by my estimation.

In my opinion, which rarely is seen as humble, instead of using his temporary platform in front of the cameras to ‘bring awareness’ to an issue, he should shed his status and go sit in the center of a busy intersection smack dab in the middle of the barrio in order to truly bring focus to his concerns.  If he cared the way he claimed, he could make an impression by genuine protest – one that truly comes at a cost.  For any protest that doesn’t cost you something is no protest at all.  CK could have played in the NFL all while ‘sitting in’ on the steps of the capitol to draw water for this claims.  But he didn’t.  He made other choices, easier choices, and now has the gall to claim he’s a victim and has lost everything.  …And you’re buying this line of malarkey.  Nike is counting on it.  They’re going all-in with their identity politics choices and are determined you’ll ‘just do it’ along with them.

That brings me to my last thought for today.  “Just do it.”  Do you know what the origin is of that notion?  Essentially, it is one of the best marketing slogans of our time.  When a company wants to sell you something, the only answer they want to hear from you is ‘yes’ in any fashion.  So, they make up a slogan that convinces you to say ‘yes’ and do exactly that.  Ever heard of the “drink coke” mantra?  Yup.  Those guys paid a marketing firm big bucks to come up with exactly what Coca-Cola should have known all along.  But, it works.  You don’t think about it, you do it.  The more they say it, the more you read it, the more you hear it, the more normal it becomes and you find yourself saying yes to Coca-Cola and drinking Coke.

“Just do it.”  What are you supposed to do?  Well, anything.  …As long as you’re doing it with Nike goods.  What that phrase really means though, especially to discerning Christians, is ‘Don’t deny your urges…’

What kind of world would be living in if everyone acted on their urges solely?  Not much of one.  We’d long been extinct by now I’d guess if we’d taken up that silliness a couple thousand years back.  Some of you think I’m reaching.  OK.  Forget about Nike and CK.  Imagine a sentence in which you’re talking to your friend that utilizes, “just do it” and think on that.  No matter what you come up with, “just do it” is designed for that person to instantly overcome any objection and do your bidding.

The distinction matters.  Very much so.  While I can see how Nike would dig that mantra, there are much better out there.  But as it pertains to you I?  We should drop the whole “just do it” idea and replace it with “think through it” instead.  What would our world look like if we decided to “think through it” in place of “just do it” after just a few months or years?  It is fun to imagine, isn’t it?

Nike is counting on you to be stupid.  CK is counting on his ‘sacrifice’ as a black man in America to sway you.  Nike’s mantra tells you to give no attention to your ‘spidey senses’ now that they’re tingling and ‘just do it’ rather than question anything.  Well, are you going to?

Proverbs 14:15 –  The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps.

If there is anything you should ‘just do’ it would be to trust in Him.  I’ve struggled with understanding in my past and have questioned plenty, but I don’t remember a time when I didn’t trust our Lord.  Be salt and seek light my friends.  I beg you.

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