Nike, Kaepernick, and the Rise of the Faketriot

Nike, Kaepernick, and the Rise of the Faketriot September 8, 2018

Arising out of the flames of burning Nike apparel in the name of patriotism, a new creation has taken form:

The faketriot.

What is a faketriot?

A faketriot is a fake patriot- a person who thinks s/he is patriotic, but her/his beliefs and actions oppose the fabric and ideals of the nation they support.

Nike chose Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who help ignite a peaceful protest in response to police brutality, as the face of their 30th anniversary campaign. The reaction was as mixed as the response to his refusal to stand for the national anthem, except toss in the destruction of one’s Nike apparel for God and country.

I have noticed faketriotism for quite some time now. I did not have a word for it, but the visceral responses to nationwide critiques of injustice or systemic racism countered the kinds of reactions from people who are genuinely invested in a unified and progressing nation.

The Nike-Kaepernick controversy unveiled faketriotism at its horrid. Below are five characteristics of faketriots.

1. Anti-freedom and Anti-justice

Patriots challenge unjust laws. The faketriots defy just laws.

Faketriots have little to no issue with White supremacist organizations and their nefarious activities. They want no limits to their mainstream promulgation of hate speech and actions.

Faketriots do not challenge these anti-American actions. They lock themselves in ignorance because the truth reveals that they are aligned with and protect terrorists- people who have exploited, killed and terrorized People of Color for centuries.

The same freedoms they argue on behalf of White supremacists are the same freedoms afforded to Nike and Kaepernick.

Nike can choose whoever they want as the face of their campaigns. This is the beauty of capitalism in a free world. Although they frown upon big government and communism, they want big government to control companies and people to the point of going against the laws that are just.

In the United States, so far, people are not imprisoned for refusing to participate in patriotic activities. If that is the kind of country, people want, then they are bona fide faketriots. They really do not want freedom. Freedoms have limits, but these are the kinds of restrictions that are about controlling people-not encouraging a pluralist society free of institutional oppression.

Otherwise, faketriots would not have created an uproar about Kaepernick’s peaceful protest in the first place.

They would recognize that he has a right to wear a Fidel Castro shirt. As much as I think we need reform in our justice system, I do not call police officers animals who go oink in the day or night.

Nevertheless, I recognize Kaepernick’s freedom to carry out his civil disobedience in the way he wants.

Faketriots are ready to call hate speech on socks with pigs on them, but they act quietly as church mice at the racist language hurled out by different White folks.

You would have thought Kaepernick stormed the streets of predominantly White suburbs in an uprising.

If faketriots were indeed people who had principles aligned with their nation, they would be more invested in reforming our justice system than trying to control another Person of Color.

Faketriots love the talk of freedom and equality, but they refuse to do walk it. It is evident in their ahistorical, skewed, decontextualized one-sided passion view of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

2. Fake Reasonable

Some faketriots do not go all sneaker and cross burning on you. They act as if they are reasonable and logical human beings. In the case of Nike’s campaign, faketriots declared that they wanted someone more deserving- a military hero, read: a White straight Christian man in place of Kaepernick.

They fail to realize that they often believe that White people are more deserving than People of Color. The onus is on People of Color to do backflips, somersaults, cartwheels, triathlons to almost prove that they can have a place or position instead of a White person.

Often faketriots do not realize that their unexplored racial biases feed into this dynamic.

They scrutinize and nitpick over People of Color while giving much grace to White people.

For example, Black people are told that if we speak well and work hard, then the barriers are removed. But even former President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans for speaking well.

I remember watching politicians on the news and listening to pundits on the radio dismissing Obama because of his oratorical abilities. If he gave poor speeches, they would still have a problem.

The goal posts move for People of Color because faketriots believe they are entitled to most if not all jobs, positions and places of institutional power. They fail to see how they often lower the bar for each other and heavily scrutinize People of Color.

For example, they might sue regarding race-based admissions, but they do not ever challenge legacy admissions-those often occupied by wealthy White people. In other words, faketriots across race are not really invested in undoing any of the results of systemic inequities from generations of policies that favored White people.

Typically, they are not invested in doing what is right. They are invested in doing what is White.

3. Emotional Denial

Faketriots think that their emotions erase the reality. The reality is that masses of people and a public corporation are behind Kaepernick. No burning of shoes or inhaling of the fumes will ease the pain.

Kaepernick was not some guy playing football in the neighborhood. He made it to the NFL and became a starting quarterback-not an easy feat.

Although he is not my hero, the fact remains that Kaepernick is a hero to many.

Yet, in a true spirit of unreasonableness, faketriots burned their Nike apparel in protest to the campaign featuring a protestor. Perhaps, I can liken their actions to the Biblical equivalent of renting one’s garment in disdain, but I think I would be too generous.

I think it is ludicrous to trash your own house when you break up with someone. Likewise, I think it is just as ridiculous to riot and destroy your own community when you are frustrated and angry about injustice.

Oh, I understand various psychological and sociological possibilities prompting these reactions. Understanding does not make it right.

And that ain’t right.

I am unconvinced that self-destruction, from one’s Nike shoes to one’s neighborhood, moves the proverbial needle forward.

A patriot seeks to build and construct, not self-destruct through emotional tirades.

4. Putting People of Color in Their “Place”

Faketriots believe that Black people and other People of Color are inferior to White people. Many will not say it, but they will, in colorblind language, point to old racial rhetoric that expresses the same.

For example faketriots take issue with Kaepernick standing against police injustice because of his material wealth. They argue about his entitlement and lack of gratitude.

It is as if they expect Black people to tap dance and say, “Thank ya, massuh” to them for anything we accomplish.

It appears that Kaepernick chose to think about people who do not have the material wealth and network that he has.

That makes him a grateful person-not an entitled person.

People who stand up for what is right are often met with backlash. (Given the hard-to-believe coincidence of the NFL heightened scrutiny of Kaepernick’s athletic performance that has left him unemployed, Kaepernick’s Nike contract ensures that the alleged attempt to silence a silent protest would not prosper.)

A patriot would question why affluence prevents one from standing up for those with less. On the other hand, faketriots might as well read a passage from their grandma’s journal, and read aloud, “That uppity ni*&#r is too big for his britches. He needs to be put in his place.”

Anyone who thinks People of Color should be grateful and shut up about making more progress in the world is a person who is an enemy of freedom in favor of White supremacy. Moreover, faketriots believe in and support rich White men speaking for and looking out for middle and working poor White people.

Attesting to the vileness of colorblind racism, they keep the class language and drop using “White,” so they can maintain racial inequities across class backgrounds. Faketriots sound like they are for all people but refuse to do the kind of self or institutional work to be for all people.

A patriot is someone who does not fight for just the rich and famous, either. S/he does not relax into the lap of luxury and ignore the realities of those with fewer privileges, whether it is race, class, both, and more. A patriot can come from any background and stands for what is just.

5. False Concerns for Progress

Similar to attempts to appear reasonable, faketriots show false concerns for social progress. They carefully bring up concerns for societal improvement with the Nike ad, but, otherwise, they are not invested in growth. Their interest is a “nice” way of ignoring racial injustice.

They just want to avoid anything that reminds them that race and racism are not only present, but also how they are part of it. Faketriots use their concern for progress as a way to silence and squash attempts to disrupt their blissful ignorance.

As a result, instead of speaking out against injustice, faketriots are vocal against anything that challenges systemic racism.

Faketriotism is a weapon of mass revulsion.

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