The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 69 — Happy Juneteenth!

The importance of turning Juneteenth into a holiday

Good morning, folks! Happy Juneteenth! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear! It’s Friday! Hopefully, you’ve had a fantastic week. Thanks for giving me a bit of your time today.

Don’t forget! We’re doing our raffle on Monday afternoon shortly after the newsletter drops. Good luck in the draw, folks. Be on the lookout. Tell your friends to subscribe, because there are plenty more to come!

Now, let’s dive in.


Declaring Juneteenth a holiday is just a start

(Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash)

CORRECTION: The artwork piece originally included the Chilean flag instead of the Texas flag. It has been changed to the proper flag.

Whether it wants to or not, this country is finally beginning to give the day of Juneteenth the respect it deserves.

Juneteenth is a day about Black liberation. It’s extremely important. This is the moment in this country’s history that slavery was officially abolished.

  • On June 19, 1865 slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally told that they were freed — a full two years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee finally surrendered.

  • Juneteenth is a celebration of that moment in time. It’s quite literally a Black independence day.

Columbus Day is still a thing. So one would think that Juneteenth would a no-brainer national holiday, right? Wrong.

Black folks around the country have been celebrating Juneteenth independently for centuries because Juneteenth isn’t an official holiday in most states.

Think about how wild that is. This was a day that America had officially abolished one of its greatest evils — albeit late as hell — and it isn’t celebrated in an official capacity in the same way Independence Day or Patriot Day is. That’s egregious.

That’s why it matters that companies like Nike are celebrating Juneteenth on a company-wide scale by turning it into an annual paid holiday moving forward.

In a company-wide memo, CEO John Donahoe called it an important moment in celebrating and commemorating Black history and culture, per Forbes.

“When we say that Black Lives Matter, it applies to the world outside of Nike and, importantly, it applies to our Black teammates within Nike. Simply put, we need to hold ourselves to a high standard given the heritage of our company and our brand.” 

They aren’t the only ones who’ve made the move. Target, Twitter, the New York Times and even the NFL were among companies that moved to turn today into a paid holiday for their employees.

There is also movement in government on it — both Virginia and New York have made Juneteenth and official state holiday and a paid day off for citizens.

This is important. It’s a simple gesture, but it’s meaningful. For so long in this country, Black advancement and Black justice has been delayed or straight up denied. Even Juneteenth came two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. And even after that, Black Codes upheld the tenets of slavery for years after it was abolished.

Naming Juneteenth a national holiday not only acknowledges the importance of June 19 in history, but it’s also a baby step toward this country truly grappling with its sins. And that’s a big deal.

There are two caveats here, though.

  • First, don’t get it twisted. We should not rely on these major corporations to show us the way when it comes to these things. It’s honestly a shame that we have to hold them up as examples here instead of our government itself.

  • Second, the work isn’t done their either. It doesn’t stop at Juneteenth. These companies need to hire Black — they profit off of the culture enough. They need to elevate voices of color to C-Suite positions. That’s true change.

Juneteenth is only a start. It doesn’t wash away America’s sins. It doesn’t bring back those we’ve lost. But it’s a start on one front. And you’ve got to start somewhere.


We need receipts

(Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash)

Lots of companies in the sneaker world have pledged to give massive sums of money to organizations dedicated to the upward mobility of Black people in America.

  • Adidas pledged $120 million to organizations dedicated to creating social change for Black people. We talked a bit about that last week.

  • Jordan Brand pledged $100 million over the next 10 years, similarly, to organizations dedicated to racial equality.

  • Nike pledged $40 million over the next four years to “support the Black community.”

These initiatives are all well and good. This money will be helpful. There are a lot of organizations and common folk who are in dire need of this aid.

And that’s why we have to be vigilant with this. The protests that were organized after the killing of George Floyd triggered this massive influx of donations and pledges from massive corporations, but the work doesn’t stop there.

Just reading through some of the press releases and statements given out by these companies over the last few weeks on their pledges and you see why.

  • For example, in its press release Nike says its commitment is “focused on investing in and supporting organizations” prioritizing social justice, education and addressing racial inequality.

  • There’s similar language in both the Jordan Brand and Adidas statements, as well.

That language is incredibly broad. It’s meaningful, sure, but specifics are important in this moment in time that we’re living in. We need to know who they’re donating to and what they’re doing with that money.

Just look at the NFL’s Inspire Change debacle from last year.

  • The NFL’s Inspire Change initiative donated $400,000 to an anti-gang organization called the “Crusher’s Club.”

  • We later found out that organization was also a staunch supporter of the Chicago Police Department. Welp.

There are more organizations like that out there that say they’re for Black advancement but will also do and support things that get in the way of it.

Certainly, this money matters. But what matters more is where it’s going and what those organizations are doing with it — not just that they’re giving it. Be wary of that before you give your applause.


The consequences of not hiring POC

It’s super important for companies to hire Black folks and, more broadly, people of color. Especially when it’s those folks that make their company what it is.

Case in point: Nike’s Puerto Rico Air Force 1. They cancelled the shoe’s highly anticipated release last week after not having successfully dropped one since 2000.

Why’d they cancel it? Because they had the damn flag on backward, Complex reports.

⁣This year’s @nike Air Force 1 Puerto Rico reissue will be cancelled because the Swoosh couldn’t get the orientation of the Puerto Rican flag on the tongue right(bottom shoe in the image is the 2020 version)🇵🇷🇵🇷🇵🇷. ⠀


“Nike is removing the shoe from the marketplace, as it was intended to be a re-release of the Air Force 1 Low Puerto Rico from 2000 and the final product does not accurately reflect the original design,” the brand said in an official statement.⠀


This is the second consecutive year that the celebratory Air Force 1 gets cancelled. Last year’s Puerto Rico release featured a design called “MOLA” made by the Guna people in Panama and parts of Colombia. 📷: @ervinshoes #hskicks
June 13, 2020

The flag faces the left on the shoe when it should’ve been facing toward the right. It’s unclear how they let this error slip through the cracks, but it’s hard not to feel like this couldn’t have been prevented if they had someone from Puerto Rico or literally anyone with a little bit of culture on the design team here.

The worst part is it’s not even the first time they’ve had to cancel this shoe. 2019’s version was cancelled last year because they included a Panamanian design on a shoe paying homage to Puerto Rico.

Hire people of color, yo. Just do it.


Do some good and win some shoes

You know what feels great? Getting a new pair of shoes. You know what also feels great? Donating to a great cause.

We can do both with the homie Adrian Crawford. My guy is giving away a couple pairs of shoes to a lucky winner who donates to the Want Not Need fund.

We’ve talked about it here before — this is pretty incredible and necessary work here. That $20 you were putting toward your Hare Jordan L can easily go here. You’ll feel great about it and might get a pair of shoes anyway.

Pretty easy way for you to catch a W, if you ask me. You’ve still got a whole day. Donate if you can.


#TheKicksWeWear

YERRRRRRRR IT HAS BEEN WAY TO LONG Y’ALL. I missed this so much!

First, the homie Sumeet hit us with a mail check on these AJ1 Chicago Toe mid joints. Man, they keep making these amazing mids, yo.

Then the homie Adrian started us off on the green with these AM1 golf joints!

After that, the homie Karthik proved to us that Blazers are absolutely undefeated.

Then the homie Nick came through in some Ronnie Fieg Gel Lyte V’s. SO COLD.

Then the homie Julian came through rocking the Bron 15’s and doing great things in life!

My guy Phil hit us with some legit ART.

The homie Jimmy came through in the Lapstone & Hammer Tie Dye socks with the ACG sandals. Socks and sandals never looked so fly.

Then the homie Shawn P sent us home in the WHAT THE KD 7’s and they’re AMAZING.


Thank y’all for rocking with your boy! Have a spectacular weekend. I hope you celebrate Juneteenth today.

Don’t forget, we’ve got our raffle coming on Monday. Stay sharp! Tell your folks to subscribe!

As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be well. Be kind.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯