I’m not going to lie – when I saw this, it literally took my breath away. I’m overwhelmed by the sense of tone-deafness I get from this:
Adidas has sparked outrage and been accused of ‘promoting slavery’ by creating a new pair of trainers which have bright orange ‘shackles’ that fit around the wearer’s ankles.
The clothing giant is under fire for its August scheduled release of the JS Roundhouse Mids, which many have compared to the devices worn by black slaves in 19th Century America.
The seemingly innocent promotional material, uploaded to Facebook earlier this month, asks: ‘Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?’
But the shoes have sparked angry debate online, with many saying there is a more cynical tone to the advertisement.
More than 2,000 people have labelled the design ‘offensive’ and ‘ignorant’ and say the firm has ‘sunk to new lows’ in its ‘slavewear’ product.[source]
The article also mentions quotes from Dr. Boyce Watkins from YourBlackWorld, who said the following:
JS Roundhouse Mids, are purple and gray, with HANDCUFFS that wrap around the ankles. Yes, I said handcuffs…shackles….the stuff that our ancestors wore for 400 years while experiencing the most horrific atrocities imaginable, most of which were never documented in the history books and kept away from you in the educational system, all so you would be willing to put shackles on your ankles today and not be so sensitive about it.
I laughed when I saw the shoes, because I already know how many people are going to say, “Boyce, why are you overreacting?” There is always a group of Negroes who are more than happy to resubmit themselves to slavery. In fact, commercialized hip-hop culture teaches black men everything they need to know in order to guarantee their own self-destruction (stay high/drunk, carry a gun, sleep with every woman that moves, remain uneducated and waste your money). We follow instructions very well.
And now… the shoes.
To balance out Dr. Watkins’ heavy-handedness, my girl Luvvie also had something to say about the Adidas shoes:
I know innovation is important and Adidas is tryna push the envelope but if they’ont tell Jeremy Scott to get in the garbage, I will. Harriet Tubman didn’t wade in the water so Juneteenth could exist for Adidas to make these sneakers. Sojourner ain’t speak her truth for this. Frederick ain’t part his ‘fro JUST RIGHT for these shoes to be so oppressive. NO MA’AMS! I AM FREE NOW! I’M IS FREE NAH, I SAY!
I’m just… I’m not going to pretend that prison and slavery are the only systems where people were subjected to treatment involving shackles. But I am curious as to what kind of historical ignorance must exist where someone thought that shoes with shackles might go over well.
Furthermore, I can’t help but wonder what Adidas thinks about its buyer that’d result in them thinking “Oh, they’d totally love shackles around their ankles!”
Let me know what you’re thinking, though – do you like these? Do you think people are over-reacting? Would you rock them? (Because we all know there is such a thing as “It’s cute, but I wouldn’t wear it!”) Would you put your child up for adoption for asking you to buy them these, or simply just wop them upside the head with a history book?
Also: I looked high and low and couldn’t find something saying this isn’t real. The designer, Jeremy Scott (@itsjeremyscott) is actually actively defending his design to people on twitter as early as three days ago. So… let’s just presume that, for now, these shoes are still a go. At $350. Uh huh.
UPDATE: Quoting the Boston Herald,
Early Monday, Adidas defended the shoes as the handiwork of a whimsical designer. By early evening, the shoe giant found itself in a public relations nightmare and announced that it had made a mistake.
The Adidas statement reads, in part: “The design of the JS Roundhouse Mid is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery. Since the shoe debuted on our Facebook page ahead of its market release in August, Adidas has received both favorable and critical feedback. We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”