I was just about to do a happy dance and celebrate the new year when I recalled my mother’s voice: “Look for the good in anything bad that happens.” So, I stopped and reflected on a year that seemed to brim with ‘bad.’ And I’m glad I did. Without that, I might not have realized all the good that has come from the past year’s tragedies.
If it hadn’t been for the COVID-19 quarantine and the quiet of self-isolation, would the world have watched, been absorbed by, and responded to the horror of the murder of George Floyd? And if not for George Floyd’s murder (and far too many others), would racial reckonings have emerged across the country?
Would Black Lives Matter Plaza have been born in Washington DC, offering a visual counterpoint to remarks and policies coming from the White House right across the street?
Would monuments that devalue human life have come down, not just in the United States, but around the world?
Would the symbol of the Confederacy on the Mississippi state flag have finally been replaced?
Would racist team names have been removed from the pro sports teams of Cleveland, Ohio, and Washington, DC?
Would recognizing the need to repurpose police funds, moving from militarization to mental health support, have gained the traction it has?
Would books on invisible racism and the need for racial equity have topped reader’s lists as more and more Americans, particularly White Americans, seek to understand—and address—the truth of America?
Would we have understood the fragility of our country’s democracy and the massive efforts to suppress voters? And without that, would we have voted in record numbers moving away from the toxicity of fascism toward a healthier democratic America?
I grieve the tragedies of 2020, but just as my mother wisely told me, from the bad has come good. The foundation laid last year is what we will build a more positive future upon.
Even though I’m not qualified to give advice on what stocks to purchase, when to buy or when to sell, I am making a firm recommendation for what to put in that special Christmas stocking.
While my knowledge of economics and the stock market is minimal, I know a little about football and a little more about racial equity. So, here’s how NIKE, football, and racial equity all come together, tied with a beautiful Christmas bow.
I know the rules of football and can watch a game and understand what is happening. I even used to follow the Washington DC team (offensive—no pun intended—name not to be acknowledged) but stopped a few years ago. My connection to football, however, did not mean that I knew the names of many of the players. I had never heard of Colin Kaepernick, then quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, until he decided, in 2016, to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem.
At about that same time, I started my journey to better understand the depth, breadth, and impact of structural racism, racial inequity, and implicit bias. Because I was hyper-attuned to conversations about race and racism—actions and reactions—I focused on what he was doing. Since I was just finding my voice on these topics, I appreciated his use of his platform—that of an NFL quarterback—to recognize police brutality and oppression against communities of color. From everything I heard him say, he never intended what he was accused of: demeaning the flag and the country. There is no question, however, that his very public action was polarizing. He severed his relationship with his team right before, it was rumored, he would have been let go. Though a proven talent, no other team approached him. By their inaction, not their words (they have never publicly stated their ban on hiring him), Kaepernick had been blackballed (note the term) by the NFL. In my view, that’s where naughty… and just plain wrong … came in.
Now, back to NIKE.
In September 2018, two years after Kaepernick’s first protest, NIKE did something extraordinary. This multi-national company, focused on sportswear and sports equipment, chose Kaepernick as the face of its “Just Do It” campaign. It was the 30th anniversary of the iconic slogan. Kaepernick had done what the NIKE slogan challenged. He probably didn’t consider the many negative consequences of his action, but he wanted to recognize the atrocities happening in America to people who looked like him. He took a stand and suffered the consequences.
In my mind, it was a bold step for NIKE, a major sports company, to go against the general sentiment of the organized sports industry. Football—the NFL—had turned its back on Kaepernick. NIKE, however, had elevated his courage and strength of purpose. The anchor advertising image of the new campaign was a black-and-white photo of Kaepernick emblazoned with the quote, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Nice… yes, very, very nice.
While I cheered this move by NIKE, its stock price fell immediately, a bad sign in the business world. BoycottNIKE became a Twitter hashtag, and sports teams and athletes around the country announced that they were destroying their NIKE wear. I wanted NIKE to be celebrated. In my mind, they had taken a considerable risk and done the right thing.
All of my adult life, I have thought one person can make a difference. I didn’t know what I could do to show my appreciation to NIKE. Then, it occurred to me. I would buy NIKE stock. My purchase certainly would not make a difference like that of a major investor, but that wasn’t the point. The point was for me to show my appreciation. And I did. On September 10, 2018, I researched how to purchase NIKE shares, what the minimum purchase was, and then I showed my support for NIKE by buying shares of stock. As I entered the order, sitting at home, alone at my desk, I started to smile. It felt good. Now, over a year later, NIKE’s decision did not have a deleterious impact on the company. In fact, at the time of this posting, the share price has increased by 19% since my initial purchase.
So, if the NIKE logo is emblazoned on the shoes, shirt, or gym shorts of your favorite niece or nephew, they might be ripe for learning how the stock market works (economics 101). And since they are already demonstrating their support for the company by wearing the products, now would be a great time to discuss how this company used its social consciousness (social justice 101) as you explain why shares of NIKE stock are peeking out of their Christmas stocking.
Merry Christmas. You can thank me later for the stock tip 😊.