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"Just don't do it!" Blog by Paul Bejzcy | 18 februari 2019

During his internship in the United States, second year student Paul Bejzcy wrote a very relevant blog about racial segregation in the USA. With this blog Paul won the Global Mind Best Practice Award.

World Cup Final

It’s 2010, you’re watching the World Cup final with your friends at a bar. It’s time for the national anthem and you can see the cameraman slowly passing in front of every player singing the hymn. Suddenly, there’s an empty spot on the place where Arjen Robben should be standing. Instead of singing, he’s kneeling down. How would you feel? Would this annoy you, or make you curious for the reasons why? This would be rather unlikely to happen in any of the world’s leading football countries, but this situation is exactly what recently happened at our overseas friends who have a different interpretation for the word ‘football’.

Colin Kaepernick

Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who now has no job, started a movement by kneeling during the national anthem at several NFL matches. Kneeling during the anthem symbolized a protest against racial inequality for the Afro-American citizens of the United Sates. Ever since Kaepernick’s first kneel in 2016, the American people have started to notice something was happening. But a recent event really raised awareness on the matter. The 30th anniversary of Nike’s popular slogan ‘Just do it’ was celebrated with the company’s most political advertisement up to date. Nike used a photo of Kaepernick with the words “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

I remember the moment I saw the massive ad when I walked through Times square a few weeks ago. I couldn’t think of a previous incident during which an advertisement has made me feel equally seized with emotion.

Racial segregation

Even though racial segregation in the United States has officially been made illegal in 1954, the effects have still not fully disappeared. With my two direct supervisors being Afro-American, I feel as if I can still not speak freely about any subject related to racism without possibly hurting someone’s feelings. One of my managers even told me that his father still had to sleep in separate, smaller tents when serving at the army. Even when you were willing to give your life for your country, it would still be of less value than a white comrade’s life. While in the Netherlands those things are now more often considered as rational facts, in the U.S., it’s best to think twice about expressing opinions related to racial (in)equality.

Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

People are even reminded of this daily. Trump called Nike’s new ad a “Terrible message” and tweeted that Kaepernick “Should have been suspended. You cannot disrespect our country, flag or anthem.” The statistics about how this message was received are unsurprising. Out of all NFL watchers, 63 percent of white Americans disapproved of the demonstrations, while 74 percent of black Americans approved. Racism in the U.S. is still a thing today, and we should all remember that the past is not as easily forgotten as it seems. And if you were wondering whether Nike’s new marketing tactic has worked; the weekend after releasing the ad, global sales have gone up with 31%.


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