Black Nike Employees Stop Working Over Social Injustice

A day after a historic protest in the NBA, Nike's Black employees are joining the protests against racially motivated killings in America.

Nike World Headquarters Beaverton

Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Image via Getty

Nike World Headquarters Beaverton

Black employees at Nike are not working for rest of the week as a protest against racially motivated killings in America, sources tell Complex. Some of the workers participating in the demonstration have set up an out-of-office alert on their email accounts explaining their absence.

"While I am out of office I will be using my time to combat social injustices," the bounceback message reads. It features a long list of names of Black Americans who have been killed by the police, among them Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.

The out-of-office email also has a list of ways people can combat social injustices. It focuses first on demanding justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot and paralyzed by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this month. "You can contact local and state officials to demand justice for Blake and for the police officers involved to be held accountable," the message says.

The walkout at Nike comes the day after a historic protest in the NBA in which teams united to stage a walkout, deciding not to participate in playoff games. The NBA's protest, started by players on the Milwaukee Bucks and inspired by the call for justice for Blake, caused the postponement of playoff games on Wednesday and Thursday. Per the latest reports, players do plan to resume the postseason, possibly as early as Friday.

In the wake of global Black Lives Matter protests this summer, Nike faced its own reckoning regarding race at the company. In June, the since-deactivated Instagram handle @blackatnike posted anonymous accounts from current and former brand employees detailing racism and microaggressions they'd experienced there. The account was unexpectedly shut down shortly after it gained traction in the industry. Similar accounts, like the subsequent @blackinfootwear on Instagram, have also disappeared without explanation.

The out-of-office email makes no explicit connection between the current movement at Nike, which was organized by young employees at the brand, and the racism alleged on accounts like @blackatnike.

Nike did not provide a comment on the protest at the company, pointing to its statement on Thursday expressing solidarity with athletes across the world standing against "the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake." Sources say Nike leadership today internally stated its support for employees' protest and encouraged them to take time off as they see fit.

The out-of-office email from Black employees at Nike who are withholding their labor appears in full below.

Today I am out of office because of…

David McAtee, June 1, 2020; George Perry Floyd, May 25, 2020; Dreasjon “Sean” Reed May 6, 2020; Michael Brent Charles Ramos, April 24, 2020; Breonna Taylor, March 13, 2020; Manuel “Mannie” Elijah Ellis,March 3, 2020; Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, October 12, 2019; Emantic “EJ” Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., November 22, 2018; Charles “Chop” Roundtree Jr., October 17, 2018; Chinedu Okobi, October 3, 2018; Botham Shem Jean,September 6, 2018; Antwon Rose Jr., June 19, 2018; Saheed Vassell, April 4, 2018; Stephon Alonzo Clark, March 18, 2018; Aaron Bailey, June 29, 2017; Charleena Chavon Lyles, June 18, 2017; Fetus of Charleena Chavon Lyles  June 18, 2017; Jordan Edwards, April 29, 2017, Chad Robertson ,February 15, 2017, Deborah Danner, October 18, 2016, Alfred Olango, September 27, 2016, Terence Crutcher, September 16, 2016, Terrence LeDell Sterling, September 11, 2016; Korryn Gaines, August 1, 2016; Joseph Curtis Mann, July 11, 2016; Philando Castile, July 6, 2016; Alton Sterling, July 5, 2016; Bettie “Betty Boo” Jones, December 26, 2015; Quintonio LeGrier, December 26, 2015; Corey Lamar Jones, October 18, 2015; Jamar O’Neal Clark, November 16, 2015; Jeremy “Bam Bam” McDole, September 23, 2015; India Kager, September 5, 2015; Samuel Vincent DuBose, July 19, 2015; Sandra Bland, July 13, 2015; Brendon K. Glenn,May 5, 2015;  Freddie Carlos Gray Jr., April 19, 2015; Walter Lamar Scott, April 4, 2015; Eric Courtney Harris, April 2, 2015; Phillip Gregory White,March 31, 2015; Mya Shawatza Hall, March 30, 2015; Meagan Hockaday, March 28, 2015; Tony Terrell Robinson, Jr., March 6, 2015; Janisha Fonville, February 18 2015; Natasha McKenna, February 8, 2015; Jerame C. Reid, December 30, 2014; Rumain Brisbon, December 2, 2014; Tamir Rice, November 22, 2014; Akai Kareem Gurley, November 20, 2014; Tanisha N. Anderson, November 13, 2014; Dante Parker, August 12, 2014; Ezell Ford, August 11, 2014; Michael Brown Jr., August 9, 2014; John Crawford III, August 5, 2014; Eric Garner, July 17, 2014…AND SO MANY OTHERS!!

In the words of Lemon Anderson, “The only soles you should be caring about right now are the ones with the ‘Black souls’ in them.” 

While I am out of office I will be using my time to combat social injustices. You can join me by doing one of the following:

  1. You can contact local and state officials to demand justice for Blake and for the police officers involved to be held accountable:
  2. You can contact local and state officials to demand justice for Breonna Taylor and for the police officers involved to be held accountable:
  3. Sign petitions #JusticeforFloydBreonna TaylorAhmed ArberyBelly Mujinga, etc.
  4. Contact your local Congressional representative to fight for the creation of policy for transparent investigation process due to law enforcement misconduct
  5. Donate to numerous funds: (just to name a few, but there are plenty others)
  6. Fund the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) or NAACP Legal Defense Fund (Nike will match your giving x2)
  7. Self-educate (keep listening and learning)
  8. Use social media channels to promote justice for #BreonnaTaylor, #JacobBlake, #BLM