One of the favorite brands of communities of color around the world has decided to join the protests against endogenous racism and promised substantial change from its trenches.
Adidas, the German-based multinational corporation, was one of the first to demonstrate on social media after the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minnesota police, and a fortnight later has announced substantial changes to its structure.
“The events of the past two weeks have caused all of us to reflect on what we can do to confront the cultural and systemic forces that sustain racism,” says Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted in a statement. “We have had to look inward to ourselves as individuals and our organization and reflect on systems that disadvantage and silence black individuals and communities.”
In the same release, the company committed to investing $20 million in Black communities through its Adidas Legacy, Adidas School for Experiential Education in Design, and its Honoring Black Excellence initiative.
It also pledged to invest in university scholarships for Black employees and increase the number of Black and Latinx employees in the United States at Adidas and Reebok by 30 percent
However, the decision was not voluntary. It was largely due to pressure from its employees at headquarters in Portland, Oregon, who held a walk-out to protest the double standard of the company, which, like other sportswear companies, “has profited off of sponsorship deals with Black athletes and celebrities, and by using Black culture as inspiration for designs and marketing schemes,” CNN explained.
According to a 2012 story from The Atlantic, separating Black culture from the success of companies like Nike and Adidas is simply impossible.
“The natural alignment of Black youth culture heroes led right to a hungry sneaker market. Adidas signed Run-DMC to a promotional deal,” the media explained. “Nike marketed its Air Jordans — first released in 1985 — with a series of ads linking the shoes directly to the basketball great’s athletic prowess and to Black youth culture. Some of them also starred Spike Lee, who reprised his role as Knicks-worshipping Mars Blackmon from the movie She’s Gotta Have It.”
In this way, it seems that a community that gives up to $800 million in sales every year to the big brands has simply not been taken into account and recognized, until now.
“Black Lives Matter. We recognize the immense contribution of the Black community to our success and that of others,” Adidas’ statement concludes. “We promise to improve our company culture to ensure equity, diversity and opportunity. We understand that the fight against racism is one that must be fought continually and actively. We must and will do better.”