Posts Tagged ‘racism


The Nike Air Jordan, more than just a shoe

Summer of 1985, a young teen from Queens, New York just laced up his first pair of Nike Air Jordans.  The same kicks that made Jordan fly his rookie year, the only difference from the shoes on his feet and MJ’s, the color.  As a white kid growing up in Queens, Mike T’s first pair of Jordans had to be all white, with a metallic blue Nike and Air Jordan logo along with the interior lining of the shoe.  According to Mike,  “If a white kid showed up to school with the iconic Black and Red Jordans, he would get his ass kicked, and his MJ’s would get stolen, white kids were not allowed to wear the red and black Jordans.”

Flash forward seven years later.  A young boy living in Penryn California, just had his eight birthday party.  The last present he opened was from his aunt.  The only thing he wanted for his birthday that year were the same shoes Micahel Jordan wore to torch the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA Finals.  As the paper was ripped open, there it was, the jump man logo.

I had never laced up a pair of shoes and had them on my feet faster.  I started running around my house and jumping as high as I could.  For sure I was faster, my vert got inches if not feet higher, and my jumper was all the more wicked.  I had just got my first pair of Jordans. The Nike Air Jordan VII never left my feet but only to go to bed.  As a kid who grew up in suburbia, I could not have had a better present.  Ohh yeah and they were black, I felt like a bad ass.

Look at what a difference of seven years had done.  From Queens New York, where the color of your shoe was determined by your race, to Penryn California, a small predominately white town, North of Sacramento, where a young boy gets the same shoes as one of his favorite players, icons, and role models.

If you were alive during the Jordan era, and people asked you to say the first thing that came to mind when you heard the word Nike, I would be willing to say nine, if not ten out of ten people would say Mike.  Michael Jordan was the face of one of the biggest franchises in the United States and that was only a start.  From there Micahel then became the face of  Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Ball Park Franks, Wheaties, and Hanes.

According to Spike Lee “Until 1985, Americas only African Americans that represent big brands were Uncle Ben’s Rice and Aunt Jemima syrup”  then along came Micahel.  He gave the African American a positive image in the media and was the face of the biggest company in the US.  Behind all of this Phil Knight.

As we all know Phil Knight was the owner of Nike at the time Jordan came onto the scene.  He was willing to take Americas most popular sporting brand and let Americas best basketball player, MJ be the face of it.  At the time no other company was willing to do this.  Yet once Nike started selling shoes faster than they could produce, corporate America jumped on this bandwagon in a frenzy.  On came endorsement deals left and right, not only for Jordan but many other African Americans.  The media was finally starting to become integrated in a positive way along with the rest of America.

After Jordans sophmore year, the color of your skin in Queens no longer determined the color of your shoe.  Michael took over the airwaves and we the consumer could not get enough of it.  Due to a shoe, company, and the greatest basketball player ever, racial barriers were broken down in ways we could have never imagined.  It is safe to say that the Nike Air Jordan, is more than just a shoe.

I want to be like Mike-


Kaliphornya Twitter

My Blogs

October 2018
« Oct