The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 68 — Ain't nothing changed

And that's a damn shame.

Good morning, folks! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear! Missed you! It’s been a draining couple of weeks, but I’m back and ready to go.

Before we dive in, some big news: We CRUSHED our road to 1,000, family! We’re officially at 1,155 subs which is absolutely WAY more than I could’ve ever asked for. Y’all have made this thing into, well, a thing. I can’t thank you enough. You know what it is — as a show of gratitude I’m buying a couple of y’all some kicks. Details below.

With that out the way, let’s dive in.


Here we go again

(Photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash)

Two weeks ago when I left you, I was angry. I still am.

We all were. We were collectively mourning the loss of George Floyd, who had been murdered by Derek Chauvin, a police officer who knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

It wasn’t only Floyd. Before him, it was Breonna Taylor — the officers who killed her have still not been charged, by the way. Before that it was Ahmaud Arbery.

Two weeks later we’re in the same exact spot. It’s just a different name. And I’m still just as angry.

  • Rest in Paradise to Rayshard Brooks, who was shot dead by police officers in a Wendy’s parking lot.

  • The police were called on him simply because he fell asleep at the wheel in the drive thru lane of a damn Wendy’s.

He died because he fell asleep. They had an entire conversation before officers tried to detain him. He ran and was killed for it. There was absolutely no reason to take his life. There was no reason to shoot. Falling asleep in a drive through and failing a sobriety test should not cost you your life.

This is just what it is to be Black in America. The margin for error — the literal line between life and death — is razor thin.

In Brooks’ case, it was falling a sleep in a drive thru led to a 911 call that cost him his life. Meanwhile, Dylann Roof kills 9 Black worshippers at an AME church and gets to eat God damn Burger King afterward.

Really sit on that for a second. Think about it. Understand why this is so painful for Black people everywhere. Every time something like this happens, it feels like you lose a bit of your soul. Any peace you have is drained — you’re robbed of it. It changes your world.

That’s why it’s hard to find hope in all this. I mean, George Floyd was just killed. It hasn’t even been a month. If the last few weeks weren’t enough to stop something like this from happening, what can?

Their deaths will not be in vain. We’re finally having meaningful conversations about policing in America and police departments are seemingly finally being held accountable for their actions.

But on the other hand, here we go again. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Rayshard Brooks. It’s all the same. And yet, here we are right back in this same spot. 400 years of this garbage and we’ve learned absolutely nothing. It’s sad. It’s also infuriating.

It’s no wonder people are revolting. We’re tired. Enough about your Target. We don’t care about your Wendy’s. We won’t until you start to care about us.

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Keep disrupting. It works.

(Photo by Cooper Baumgartner on Unsplash)

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that protest doesn’t work. It’s a lie. It absolutely does. Case in point: Adidas $120 million commitment to invest in programs dedicated to Black advancement.

It was originally $20 million. The brand only did more because Adidas employees forced their hand into doing so by protesting.

Julia Bond, an assistant designer at the brand, organized a protest with hundreds of Adidas employees at the brand’s Portland headquarters shortly after George Floyd’s death, Footwear News reports.

She took issue with the brand’s statement and lack of initial action amid uprising sparking across the country. What’s more, she said, the brand wasn’t practicing what it preached when it came to diversity and inclusion itself.

That’s not a shock, considering it was just two years ago that the New York Times dropped the explosive report describing Adidas’ meager diversity numbers.

Bond laid it bare in a memo to company leadership.

“My existence at this brand is praised as diversity and inclusion, but when I look around, I see no one above or around that looks like me…I can no longer stand for Adidas’ consistent complacency in taking active steps against a racist work environment. This is not business as usual.”

It all worked. Just look at the results.

  • The company promised that 30% of new hires would be Black or Latino.

  • It also pledged to fund 50 university scholarships for Black students over the next five years.

  • That’s all on top of the increased $100 million commitment discussed above.

  • The company also terminated its VP of US Retail sales for a “violation of company policy,” last week, Business Insider’s Shoshy Ciment reports.

This is what accountability looks like. These are the results that people are looking for. These things are meaningful and they’re long overdue.

This moment is only just a start. There’s still work to be done in making sure the company follows through with these things, but there’s lots more to come.

So, yeah, protest works. They can’t tell you it doesn’t because we have the proof right here. Keep going.


Looting isn’t worth talking about

(Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash)

Rioters burned down the Wendy’s Rayshard Brooks was killed at and now that’s all anyone seems to want to talk about.

Conversations about the root of these protests and this anger have somehow evolved into discussions about the merits of rioting and looting. We saw it after George Floyd’s killing and we’re seeing it again here with Brooks.

But that’s not a discussion even worth having. It’s fruitless. It means absolutely nothing. The conversation begins and ends at the actual issue at hand — the killing of Black folks at the hands of the people sworn to protect and uphold public safety.

By the way, this only happens when we talk about angry Black folks.

If we’re honest about it, looting is largely a victimless crime, Axios’ Felix Salmon writes. And it’s one that actually might be a positive for some retail brands.

“Looting a major luxury brand's retail store is a largely victimless crime, one that sends a message about disrespect for (white) authority and the necessity of wealth redistribution…Economically speaking, looting can have positive effects. Rebuilding and restocking stores increases demand for goods and labor, especially during a pandemic when millions of workers are otherwise unemployed.”

People view this thing through the wrong lens. It’s not people tearing down their community — these stores aren’t theirs. Instead, they’re taking what they feel they’re owed. As Salmon said, it’s a message. One filled with Black pain. This one here:

So the next time someone wants to lecture you about looting, you lecture them right back about the systematic oppression that led to it. They’ll shut right up.


THANK YOU, FAMILY

Times are obviously incredibly dark. But it’s never a bad time to thank y’all for everything you do for me — especially in moments like this.

We flew passed 1,000 subs and it’s all because of every single one of you are still here. For that, I am grateful. And as a token of my appreciation, per usual, I am going to spend some money on y’all.

I’m buying a couple of you some shoes. Most of you know the drill, but if you don’t here it goes.

  • I’m going to take all of your e-mails and put them into a virtual drawing hat on June 22. I’ll shake that bad boy up a few times and pull out two names. Those two names are the people who get a pair from your boy.

  • We’re going up to $150 for each pair. So, if your name is drawn, that’s how much you have to spend.

  • And if you’re not interested in the shoes, you can pass the raffle win along to someone else or I can donate that bread to a cause of your choice. It’s up to you, family.

Thank y’all so much, man. Y’all are the literal best audience I could ever ask for. The Kicks You Wear is going to the moon, yo. And it’s all because of y’all. 💕


What’s droppin’, bruh

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Issa wrap on Monday, y’all! Thank you so much for rocking with your boy, still. I appreciate your time and hope you have an absolutely fantastic week.

Until Friday! As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯