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"Systemic racism and the events that have unfolded across America over the past few weeks serve as an urgent reminder of the continued change needed in our society," the company's CEO said in a statement

By Maria Pasquini
June 05, 2020 11:21 AM
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Nike
Credit: Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Nike has committed to investing millions in the fight against systemic racism.

The global sportswear company has announced a $40 million commitment to the black community, in conjunction with its Jordan and Converse brands. Over the course of the next four years, Nike promises to invest in organizations fighting for social justice, education and addressing racial inequality, according to a press release issued on Friday.

“Systemic racism and the events that have unfolded across America over the past few weeks serve as an urgent reminder of the continued change needed in our society,” said John Donahoe, president and CEO of Nike, Inc.“We know Black Lives Matter. We must educate ourselves more deeply on the issues faced by Black communities and understand the enormous suffering and senseless tragedy racial bigotry creates.”

“The NIKE, Inc. family can always do more but will never stop striving to role model how a diverse company acts. We will continue our focus on being more representative of our consumers while doing our part in the communities we serve,” Donahoe added.

The company also noted that the $40 million commitment builds upon their “long history” of standing up for equality. From 2015 to 2019, the company invested $417 million in support of leveling the playing ground for all athletes around the world.

In recent years, Nike has also stood in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who sparked the #TakeaKnee movement in 2016 by refusing to stand during the national anthem in protest against police brutality and racial injustice. In March 2017, he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers. He has not played on an NFL team since.

In 2018, Kaepernick became the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, despite the sportswear company's role as the NFL’s official uniform sponsor. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” the ad read.

Nike also worked with Kapernick the following year, releasing new Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, which sold out within minutes.

Days before announcing their new $40 million commitment, Nike also released a video on social media, encouraging their millions of followers to heed the call to take action following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

“For once, Don’t Do It,” their video read. “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism. Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us. Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t think this doesn’t affect you. Don’t sit back and be silent. Don’t think you can’t be part of the change.”

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.