Culture

Nike Stole Panamanian Indigenous Artwork And Tried To Pass It Off As Puerto Rican Until Latinos Canceled The Whole Thing

After Nike teased its imminent release of an Air Force 1 shoe design meant to celebrate Puerto Rico, it was immediately met with backlash. The design features a coquí, the frog that can be heard chirping all over the island, and Puerto Rico’s national animal. That’s cool.

What’s not cool is the colorful design bordering the coquí, which is a blatant copy of a traditional Panamanian mola design. The company has since postponed the release of the show. They even apologized for “the inaccurate representation of the design origin for the Nike Air Force 1 ‘Puerto Rico’ 2019 edition.”

The Puerto Rico Nike Air Force 1s were expected to be released on June 6 at $100 a pair.

@IsaacLarrier / Twitter

“@Nike, Guys, these are cool sneakers, and I get the reference to the Coquí frog, but this pattern and design are NOT from Puerto Rico,” @IsaacLarrier tweeted. “It’s a design called MOLA, made by the Guna people in Panama and parts of Colombia. It is a HUGE failure of your research department.”

The mola design belongs to the Guna indigenous peoples of Panama and Colombia and is very specific.

@IsaacLarrier / Twitter

Most of the Guna people live in Guna Yala, islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama. Belisario López, the leader of the Guna community told U.S. News and World Report that the design represents “Mother Earth because the design is based on everything that is nature.”

The Guna knew that their design was protected by intellectual property laws in Panama and fought back.

@luscifers_ / Twitter

Their lawyer, a Guna woman, released a statement that stated that Nike never asked for permission and that they “pirated” the design for company profit. Too often, companies steal from generations of indigenous art with no recourse. This time, the Guna people won.

The Guna Yala community isn’t opposed to commercializing the design.

@AFP / Twitter

“We are not against our ‘mola’ being commercialized,” Belisario López, Leader of the Guna Yala Community told US News and World Report. “What we oppose is it being done without consulting us first.”

Another major problem is that Nike tried to reappropriate Guna culture as Puerto Rican.

@friendlyskyz / Twitter

That a U.S. company would internationally distribute Panamanian artwork as representative of Puerto Rico left many Panamanians pretty angry. Rightly so.

The fact is that the mola is more than a design. It’s identity.

@amoreroxie / Twitter

Monica Martinez, a professor of social anthropology at Barcelona University who has been studying the Guna for twenty years, said, “The mola is like a flag for the Guna. There is really a cultural identity that is articulated around the mola. It is a very strong element of identity.”

Some Panamanians are pointing out that Panama has frogs, too.

@bluishyoongs / Twitter

As well known as the coquí is to Puerto Rico, the Golden Frog is also widely known as endemic to Panama. It’s Panama’s national animal.

Some Latinos are angry that Nike didn’t look closer into Puerto Rico’s own rich history of art.

@yayalove86 / Twitter

You don’t have to look too far to find an established Puerto Rican graphic designer or artist to consult with. Where are the art historians on the Nike team?

The creator of La Borinqueña already tweeted a mockup to Nike.

@MrEdgardoNYC / Twitter

“.@Nike, when you make a tribute sneaker for Puerto Rico, note that ‘mola’ art is from the Indigenous people of Gunayala in Panama,” @MrEdgardoNYC tweeted. “So, here’s my quick #LaBorinqueña mockup and we can donate proceeds to our grants program in PR and the Mola shoe can benefit Panama! Hit me up!”

The tribe is now seeking damages for profiting off “part of the spirituality of the Guna people.”

@tongai / Twitter

Guna lawyer Aresio Valiente told AFP, “The company has to compensate us because it was an illegal copy of our designs.” This is part of a larger effort to reclaim justice for what feels like identity theft.

Valiente knows that Guna’s case against Nike is “not the only one in the world. Thousands of designs and the ancestral knowledge of indigenous people are being pirated by multinational companies.”

READ: 21 Times the Fashion Industry Appropriated Latino Culture

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Nike Partners With Crisis Text Line To Expand The Conversation Of Mental Health And Athletics

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Nike Partners With Crisis Text Line To Expand The Conversation Of Mental Health And Athletics

Mental health and wellness is crucial in everyday life, whether you are an athlete or not. It is even more crucial to have someone to talk to when you are feeling those lows. Nike and their athletes have partnered with Crisis Text Line to help expand access to critical mental health and wellness resources.

Nike and Crisis Text Line want to help athletes access mental health and wellness resources.

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A post shared by Crisis Text Line (@crisistextline)

According to Athletes for Hope, an estimated 46.6 million people in the U.S. are living with a mental health condition. That is roughly 1 in every 5 adults who will face a mental health challenge in their lifetime. There are a lot of ways that people manage their symptoms, including physical activity, but that doesn’t mean that athletes are immune to mental health struggles.

Thirty-three percent of young adults including college athletes face mental health crises. However, among college athletes, the study states that about 10 percent seek help. Meanwhile 35 percent of professional athletes face a mental health crisis.

Nike and their athletes want to change the conversation around mental health and wellness.

“Nike’s really committed to helping all athletes whether they’re elite athletes or everyday athletes,” Vanessa Garcia-Brito, the vice president of North America Communications, says. “Not everyone is comfortable talking about that and not everyone knows how to get support. Not everyone has access to it either. Nike’s really hoping to change that.”

That is why Nike teamed up with Crisis Text Line and included their athletes into the conversation. Not only does Nike want people to have access to the necessary resources, the athletics company hopes to combat the stigma around people seeking mental health help.

Laurie Hernandez is one of the athletes working with Nike to destigmatize talking about mental health.

Garcia-Brito is enthusiastic about the partnership and what Hernandez, Hayden Hurst, and Scout Bassett offer in bring involved. The athletes are using their own mental health crises to relate to people seeking help.

Hernandez understands struggling with mental health and wellness as a young athlete. The world watched Hernandez as she competed in gymnastics representing the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Especially reaching the Olympics at such a young age and hitting 16 and all of those changes that happened after that,” Hernandes recalls. “Mental health was a really big topic.”

The athletes are sharing their own experiences to encourage others to seek help.

“You have to take care of yourself first and foremost,” Paralympic athlete Scout Bassett says. “If you don’t you’re not going to be able to be not just the best version of yourself but you’re not going to be able to help out somebody else if you yourself are not well.”

Garcia-Brito is inspired by the athlete’s willingness to come forward and share their stories. Garcia-Brito says that the athletes being so open about their own struggles is creating a space for Nike employees and others to have honest conversations about their mental health issues.

“We know there is no off-season for mental health and it isn’t just about being ready for those moment son urgent need It’s also about cultivating a healthy mind and body for everyday life,” Garcia-Brito says. “We’re always looking for new ways in which we can serve our athletes physically and mentally.

Nike is here to help people access the mental health they need.

“So we are thrilled to partner with Nike to advance the conversation about mental health and expand the support that is available,” Chief Transformation Officer Dr. Shairi Turner says.

If you need some help finding resources, you can text “STRONG” to 741-741.

READ: Olympian Laurie Hernandez Is Back And Just Gave A Powerful “Hamilton” Inspired Performance

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Nike Gets Temporary Restraining Order Against Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan Shoes’

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Nike Gets Temporary Restraining Order Against Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan Shoes’

Updated April 1, 2021

Rapper and singer Lil Nas X jumped headfirst into the pool controversy this week. After setting the internet on fire recently with his latest single, the rapper ramped up the heat with a new shoe line called Satan Shoes. Featuring a bronze pentagram, an inverted cross, and a drop of real human blood, the shoes by Lil Nas sold out almost immediately.

It also launched a wave of comments and criticism.

The black and red sneakers came from a collaboration with Lil Nas X and New York-based art collective MSCHF.

The shoes were made with Nike Air Max 97s. Since the release, however, Nike has come forth to distance itself from the limited-edition design which dropped 666 pairs sold out in less than a minute. The shoes were priced at $1,018 a number that refers to the Bible passage Luke 10:18 which reads “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

Each shoe has an air bubble sole that contains 60 cubic centimeters (2.03 fluid ounces) of red ink and according to MSCHF “one drop” of human blood. According to MSCHF spokesperson, the blood was provided by members of the art collective. “We love to sacrifice for our art,” he stated.

In a statement about the shoes, Nike said it was not involved in producing the modified sneakers.

“We do not have a relationship with Lil Nas or MSCHF,” the company said in an email to CNN. “Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”

In response to the shoes, Nike requested a temporary restraining order.

On Thursday, a judge sided with Nike’s request for our temporary restraining order against the unofficial sneakers. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nike is accusing the “Satan shoes” of damaging the company’s professional reputation. In reaction to the shoes, many consumers who believed them to be an official release threatened to boycott the company. While Nike did not sue the art collective over their “Jesus shoe” which was another unofficial Nike Air Max 97 shoe according to THR “Nike has left open the possibility of amending its complaint to include a claim over Jesus shoes too.” 

Of course it didn’t take long for the shoes to spark outrage online.

Political and religious figures, like South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and the evangelical pastor Mark Burns, were quick to chime in with their opinions about the shoes. In a tweet about the shoes, Burns called them “evil” and “heresy.”

Many fans of Lil Nas meanwhile, tweeted their support, however.

In response to the backlash around the shoe Lil Nas posted a video to his official YouTube account titled “Lil Nas X Apologizes for Satan Shoe.” The video has already been viewed over 1.8 million times and after a few seconds the “apology” cuts to a scene from the rapper’s latest music video, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” The video shows him dancing with a devil character. At one point the rapper snaps the devil’s neck and taking his horned crown for himself to wear.

Lil Nas X responded to the backlash over the music video’s rebellious religious imagery stating “I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s**t y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay… So i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.”

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