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Dr. Boyce: Why I am Boycotting Nike’s LeBron James Sneaker

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, KultureKritic.com

Nike, being the marketing geniuses that they happen to be, are always testing the limits of our collective ignorance.  The new LeBron X sneaker being released by Nike will take the company to the mountain top by charging a whopping $315 for a pair of plastic sneakers that probably cost just a few dollars to make in some third-world sweatshop.  Forgive me for sounding like a hater, for I respect LeBron immensely.  But the fact is that this is simply pathetic.

Of course, the routine will be the same:  Kids will be convinced that they have to have these shoes by any means necessary, they will line up around the block at 6:30 in the morning on the day that the shoes are released in order to spend their last few dollars buying a product that will be damn near worthless just a few months from now.  We wonder why black people stay broke, while we remain silent about corporations that pimp us all the way to the poorhouse.   There will surely be plenty of newscasts about black teens who’ve shot each other over a pair of shoes or some 17-year old single mother who left her baby in a hot car all day so she could spend money on sneakers that she would never spend on an educational program.

And you know what?  Nike won’t give a damn.  In fact, they’re not supposed to care, since capitalism doesn’t have any room in the bottom line for human compassion.  It only focuses on corporate greed and maximizing the wealth of the company’s shareholders.  If you can squeeze another nickel out of the consumer and convince him to spend the last few cents of his welfare check in order to buy your product, then that makes him the sucker, not you.  I know this well, I’m a Finance Professor.

Nike should be ashamed and so should LeBron James.  LeBron, a team player with humble beginnings, should be the first to head into the next board meeting and say “Enough is enough.  You can’t charge that much for my shoes (other athletes have done this in the past).”  Perhaps it means that Nike only earns $200 million instead of $400 million, but some lives and financial livelihoods might be saved in the process.  Also, it’s the right thing to do.

In my humble opinion, all of us should be vocal about boycotting Nike’s new sneaker.  Of course, most of the people reading this article aren’t going to buy the shoes and won’t be buying them for their kids.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t communicate to one another via social media that Nike’s move is highly unethical, and that we are disappointed in the company for exploiting urban America in such a vicious and myopic way.   I don’t care if they hold some charity basketball event in the hood, give away a few toys at Christmas or pass out turkeys at homeless shelters.  The oldest corporate trick in the book is to take a billion and give back a million, since we are all dumb enough for fall for the gimmicks.

Remember – Nike sneakers are only cool because black people validate them.   It’s time to start speaking up against this nonsense.  In a world where everyone seems to worship the dollar bill, perhaps we can remember that there is nothing wrong with encouraging companies to do the right thing.

 

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To check out Dr. Watkins in the Janks Morton Film, Hoodwinked, please visit this link.

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  1. So True, Dr. Boyce Watkins;
    The validation of products by corporations & people who just don’t care, the message should be reciprocated by ALL Blacks who consume the product!!
    Help or get the Hell out the way!!

  2. I don’t agree with you on everything, Dr. Boyce, but I certainly agree with you on this. Oddly enough, the ones who CAN afford to buy these will not be the ones buying them. It will be the poor, struggling mothers who will take every penny that they can find to buy them. It is disgraceful and disrespectful of Nike, but then again………..they’re in it to make money. Sorry, but any parent who buys this sneaker for their child needs their head examined; my opinion. Put that money away for college!

  3. I WILL share. I DO boycott Nike. I WILL NOT hold. Mr. James responsible. He is victim— a highly paid one–of the global racists (white supremacists). He is still the most hated guy in sports—he has all kinds of guns to his head.

    • what they are forcing labron to take the money from the profits made from the shoes…do we ever hold our own people accountable. you cannot blame everything on the white man. like boyce, said…labron should go into the board meeting a tell the white man..NO on $300 shoes with his name!

  4. Often I agree with you Dr. Boyce. Not this time. Rather I can think of so many other opportunities for boycotting or calling into question a corporate enterprise’s “good citizen” bonafides (eg corporations whose financial support impact public policy via alec and others).
    $315 is more than most can afford for a pair of sneakers…I get that. The thing is is that most of the folks who will purchase and wear those shoes are adults.
    It’s unfortunate time we live in.

  5. how is this a dublicate comment?

  6. I totally agree with you Dr. Boyce. A $100 for a pair of Nike is ridiculous. It’s time to stop the overspending and start investing and owning. This is an answer to black unemployment.

  7. If you are from OHIO, get out and correct the scandalous attempts being made to suppress the Blacks vote!!!! screw these sneakers.

  8. Dr. Boyce, I agree 100% with you. It is stupid to buy children shoes at this price. Children need to be taught how to make wise choices. This is not one, but we will still have some parents who will use their hard money or welfare money to buy these shoes. Black People need to” wake up” and stop wearing their wealth on their backs and feet.

  9. Willie Lynch remains alive in the mind of the black make seed. Let’s reflect back on the Chuck Taylor Converse or the Jack Percell Blue Tips and the many times you as a ball player got your but kicked by a guy in Keds or Jeepers. The centurion of the Seed has abdicated his position. Whats the difference with Michael or Labron or Shaq. Has anyone made a educational based commerical for free. Every body wants to be a Hero which is someone projected by the greed or needs of others. Very few want to be a “MAN” who is the some total of his ability to be one with his wordin that he is one within the many that he comples to remain successful without selling their birthright, sole or people down the drain. Choices are long lasting and life changing. You can make the choice. However, you cannot choose or control the consequences.

  10. Sadly the same mothers buying these shoes for their teens will be in line for free school supplies,
    No shoe is worth losing a life. You know there will be lives lost over them as before.
    I refuse to where any logo. I don’t get paid for advertising for them. You won’t find them on my feet, shirts or jeans.

  11. Individuals pray on the ignorance of society. Much like my man Rev D. Brother you need to go back to school. You sure fill a page with useless words.
    Now the bottom line with this column…. I do not agree with the expensive shoes. That is a freak show, But how many purses, hats, suits, sunglasses, and most of all stupid looking rims will cost you an arm and a leg to get? You have a choice!!!!!!!! You don’t have to buy them!!!!!!!! Continue to cry, pointing a finger in any direction blaming it on race or how corporations are targeting Blacks. Choice People! You have one……

  12. shame on you lebron 300.00 for a pair of sneakers you let those money grubbing corporations use you. then you pass it on to young people how petty you’re. some blacks are so materialistic you need to ask your self why do i need a 300.00 pair of sneakers. your mind-set is brain dead

  13. I totally agree with you! We should demand Nike build plants in Urban communities, give Scholarships to students, particularly in it’s top markets and stop charging ridiculous prices on products that it’s target audience (teens) cannot afford!

    • I disagree. Nike shouldn’t do anything except what they’re doing. We need to stop making foolish purchases. We need to stop idolizing rap stars, athletes, and celebrities. We don’t need to try to emulate them. It’s sad that we don’t aspire to be scientists and scholars. We need to teach our children our history and show them how we are being manipulated. Tell them we will not be taken for granted and we don’t need worthless, overpriced material goods. We need brain power.

      • Totally agree!!!! Nike is a FOR PROFIT CORPORATION!!! They are in the business to MAKE money, not freebies. So why should we hold THEM responsible for OUR children? The parents holds the “purse strings” not the child and its the parents JOB, NOT Nike, to teach responsibility and say hell no. Their ugly shoes anyway, lol.
        I’m 32 and I remember being in middle school and wanting a $100 Starter jacket, remember those? My mom said no, the cheaper jacket will do the same thing. Starter jackets are now sold in Walmart on the discount rack…everytime I see it I smile and remember the lesson my mom taught me.

  14. Why can’t athletes build their own factories, manufacture shoes/outfits lines etc..hire African-american to operated them and help the President decrease our unemployment rate 14.6%, after all most youth just purchase the athlete name anyway.

  15. OMG!!! I’m always chewing Boyce out but I’m with him on this one! It’s only happening because they know that “we” are gonna want it that much more! RIDICULOUS!!! My 13 year old is about to be extra angry at me!!!!

  16. THAT WAS MY 1ST THOUGHT WHEN I HEARD THE SNEAKERS WOULD COST $315.00. WE WILL HEAR ABOUT KIDS KILLING KIDS OVER SNEAKERS AND HALF OF THEM DONT HAVE A WINTER COAT NOR FOOD FOR THEIR STOMACH. SO MANY KIDS WILL ROB OR STILL,OR SELL DRUGS TO GET THE MONEY FOR THESE SNEAKERS. MOTHERS SHOULD BE AWARE,BECAUSE I DONT BELIEVE THEY WILL BUY THEM KNOWING HOW DANGEROUS IT WOULD BE FOR THEIR CHILD.

  17. I could not have said it better Dr. Boyce. I am in total agreement with your overall views of what Nike and James LeBron are partaking in ripping off the teenagers in the U.S.A. The ones that could least afford the outrageous price for sneakers. I was coming around to being a fan of James LeBron, but his act of greed have really turn me totally away from him. James LeBron will soon be tasting the downfall that many before him have felt. Remember, “NOTHING HAPPENS BEFORE IT’S TIME.”
    Ruben W

  18. It’s about time somebody spoke up, and what about those Jordan’s I’ve seen kid beat up and stomped for a pair of shoes.

  19. Number 1/ Dr. boyce is “too old” to be wearing these shoes in the first place. Number 2/ Because of the past Nike knows they can get away with this. Don’t buy them it is as simple as that. But you know all the drug dealers and their children will be wearing these shoes. So we have nobody to blame but ourselves. White kids don’t pay a fortune for their shoes, just the blacks. If we hadn’t start off paying crazy prices in the past there is no way they would come out with $300.00 tennis shoes. Nike is out to make money and so is Lebron james. Simple as that !

  20. The $300 shoe made by Nike with LeBron’s name on it, is actually a controller. It’s for the serious baller. The shoe can collect data and be synced to Nike’s website. Welcome to the future!

  21. I am from Ohio, I would not buy $300 or $100 pair of Nike. I am not setting myself for getting robbed or killed. That is a one monthly car payment for many of us. I would not have my teenage son wearing them anyways. I rather have him invest on his education instead of wearing high-price designer clothes. Our black children need to be thankful that they have a home, food, education, and good loving parents. Family values are gone.

  22. I agree with Boyce 100%. We must protest to the highest. regarding this madness. How should the process of protest begin?
    Obviously, Le Bron doesn’t care. We must make him care. At some point he must listen to the people.

  23. This article is stupid. I am so sick of the parentalistic mode Boyce gets in sometimes I can scream. Nike is a corporation they exist to make money. Families exist to extoll virtues and values what does it say bout us as a people that we need to be told in essence black people y’all can’t afford these shoes. On nation wide TV showing the world how weak minded some people think we are ,just us not the Asian not the Latin or the white. Just the poor pitiful children of ex slaves it makes me sick. Let’s boycott Coach handbags no wait even better Dooney&Burke have you seen the prices or how bout Cadillacs you know how they like those when they could be paying for and education trade school or something where does it stop Boyce I there was a line in a movie that Samuel L Jackson said Rat might taste like fillet migon but I’ll Neva know cause I ain’t eating the nasty muthaf#%ker nuff said peace out

  24. $315 – really?! I mean, do they help you levitate?? The sneakers aren’t even hot. I would never pay that much for a pair of those kicks, or any pair, for that matter.

  25. When you know better you do better. I just had this conversation with my wife just recently. I have never owned a pair of Jordan’s or those super ugly Gator’s . Never worn shoes that make my feet hurt. Here is clincher wait for it………… never spend over $75.00 for a pair of shoes.

  26. It not nike’s mind set that needs changing, it’s the people that buy the shoes. Nike would not charge that much for shoes if we did not buy them. If our race would stop wronging so much about fashion, how we look, and living for today, and build a foundation for the future, we would not be at the bottom when it comes, to saving, investing, and education. We need to break this trend and start teaching our kids how to build for the future.

  27. Is the sneaker pricey YES but so what. There are shoes that are that pricey..don’t get me started on women’s pumps. Why boycott just don’t buy them. It is not Nike they have shoes at all prices you find one that fits your economic standing. If people would stop trying to look at what Peter or Paul got and worry about their own pockets. LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS! Hell I wore Pro-Wings in Jr. High and felt confident as ever. It is people that place so much value on what is perceived as “the best” and “must haves”. Raise your kids to be content in what they have and if they want more then teach them how to work hard to get it or teach them how to stay focused on needs not wants.

    There are price levels in all products LIVE with IN YOUR MEANS and stop BITCHING about what the next person has!

    Boycotting this issue should be moot. Wear a different show there are 25 other name brand shoes you can wear My God! Boycott more meaningful issues!

    Boycotting these days are like a bus they come every 5 minutes where you start to not even notice the importance of them and perfect timing. Geesh…

  28. I wonder if those tennis shoes would help me in any way? I’m 67 years old..

  29. Dr Boyce there should be a petition!

  30. This isn’t just a black thing. There are plenty of white people who couldn’t afford those shoes. I couldn’t and even if I could I wouldn’t buy them. Anything made with child labor should be objectionable to all of us. Just like the uniforms that were worn during the Olympics. They were by a top designer and were made in China. The designer makes millions and child labor made them. I won’t buy anything that is made by forcing children to work for nothing.

  31. Nike is in the business of making money. They are not responsible for people who are dumb enough to go into debt to buy a pair of their shoes.
    They are not responsible for a parent who is too stupid to teach their children that over priced shoes are just that, over priced shoes. Nothing more.
    They are not responsible for you getting robbed of your $315 sneakers while you walk down the street.
    They are not responsible because you are trampled in the store after camping out all night because everyone wants to be the first one sporting a pair of these shoes.
    It’s all quite simple. If you don’t agree with the price, don’t buy them. Start a petition? For what?

  32. I am seeing some women appearing in commercial to support Romney. You Black and White women – your freedom is over if you vote for R&R ticket and he becomes president. You will be baby factories and republicans will abandon you and your babies. Look how Romney kids and family dress – like Amish people. You will wear burgas like Talibans – the Mormon style. I am warning you as I did with people in Wisconsin. They are now whining: “We did not know Republicans are that bad.” You will be slaves and walking like prisoners with your head down. If you want to be prisoners in your country go ahead and vote for R&R. But if you want freedom, join me and vote for President Obama on November 6.

  33. Dr. Boyce, you could not have said this better. I remember during the 90s surviving with my son who also came up as a young black male child caught up in the then $150.00 sneakers; kids gunning each other down over gold in the teeth, and some sort of brand named jacket. This is just another self fulfilling prophecy that HIS-tory repeats itself because we keep letting it. The BLACK OCCUPY is in demand!

  34. for these negron to allow these white european to put a product out and ask…..our unemployed brothers and sister…..it a disgrace….how mush money do you need……land is the only real job creator….for the massive o ourf people that need you make some money just take care of their family with the basic….and place to stay and food and good clean water….and we as people should have that education and should be exploiting this……it right here on the internet all day every day……every black yard should an farm a place where you grow food….every yard or land and we should have city wide people that buy and process that food and sell it back to the community….we got to get into real world power….food packaging….and refrigeration making….it’s easy….we can use all the recycling for it…now the white european just woke up!!!and said to the white mayor…the white governor…and to the white senator’s….we got to stop these negro’s from use the recycle to build real wealth….land is the job creator…….take all that land that the white people have ran away from and turn it in to a farm…and see how quick these crack’s come back in give you fake jobs….to tear down your real jobs….what do detroit do us the land fight for the land and then…you will start to build real wealth….

  35. Step up OUR game —– We need to play hard R Shut Up –Nike, the local Bodega, Obama and his crew, and our religious institutes need to be shown that we are Unitied- by Us as One coming together and make a statement to the World—-

    Boycott Christmas 2012

  36. sorry but this boycott is a load of crap ! first if u r a yopung poor black kid then the last thing u need is a pair of 300.00 sneakers ! and the shoes that r 285.00 r put out for the shoe collectors, their is a 2nd pair thats actually for wearing at 185.00, and yes shoe collectors, u know its the same as stamp. comic book, art work etc. just because u dont collect things why knock others ? u might as well say a car is just a car , really ? a hyundai is not a bmw, a ford focus is not a benz, so when u boycott things get all facts, they r just shoes u either collect or u dont…they r not forcing u to buy them

  37. I agree you should boycott Nike for using Black athletes and sports superstars such as Jordan, LeBron, Tiger and Kobe in its marketing campaigns, which exploits the Black community. Moreover, when you are finished boycotting Nike, please boycott Louis Vuitton for using your personal sports hero and all-time favorite athlete the “Greatest” Muhammad Ali in its marketing campaign, which exploits Ali and the Black community. For example, Louis Vuitton’s “Heroes Sneakers” retail for $745.00 and its men travel bag, which is featured in the Ali ad retails for $2,700. Lastly, Louis Vuitton should be ashamed and your hero, Ali should also be ashamed.

  38. Many people who live in poor urban areas have encountered generations of oppression, trauma, and abuse that robs them of the ability to love themselves, resulting in them seeking “good feelings” that come from “compensatory status symbols,” possessions that people obtain, cars, clothes, jewelry, women (or men) that make them appear elite or feel that they are doing better than they really are. The problem is that the costs associated with getting and keeping these items is great, and it results in people spending all of their money (and energy) in an attempt to look like they are part of the elite. Unfortunately, children grew up being told that “just because it doesn’t have to look like it.” Elders meant that just because you lived in low income housing, you could be proud of it by keeping it clean. People interpreted this saying to mean that just because we were poor we don’t have to look poor. This resulted in people in the projects buying expensive clothing and cars so that they didn’t look like they lived in the projects instead of buying affordable cars and clothing and moving “out of the projects.” Let’s stop being mad at those who manufacture designer clothing, guns, and drugs, because this allows us to continue to deny and avoid “the real problem,” the absence of an internal feelings of self worth and self love. When we address this issue and begin to heal, our dependence on external “things” to make us feel good will disappear as well as the mindless consumerism they we engage in, causing manufactures to either go out of business or develop products that benefet us. I’m Ronald Crawford, a therapist who works in North Philadelphia with “at risk” youths and men who recently returned from incarceration. I wrote a book titled “Who’s the Best Rapper? Biggie, Jay-Z, or Nas” where I used rap lyrics as a medium to teach concepts of counseling to those who don’t read often but who listen to rap music. Please support my project by going to amazon.com and paying $20 for my book. It’s a good investment and reading it and supporting one of our own will make you feel good “internally.”

    • Yes, I agree fully with you. We are suffering from the same “illness” here in Africa and I believe that something can be done about it; it is in our hands.

  39. WHERE ARE THEY made??????????????????????????????

  40. All you whiners. Anybody ever go to Michael Jordan, Kobe, Shak, or LeBron and plant a seed. Don King went to the bank with a letter of intent from Muhammed Ali and the rest is history.

    There are people winning mllions of dollars in the lottery every week that can’t take care of their financial affairs and have to hire financial advisors.

    Any body with fianacial qualifications every approach these peoples people about BUSINESS. Yes, Whiners, that’s what it’s called, BUSINESS.

    No, we would rather call our race ignorant and wasteful and all other kind of names. instead of helping these men of color. Some who don’t even know their fathers. Just jump up and call them a bunch of names. Try jumping up and calling them on the phone about a BUSINESS deal. Be creative anybody can say stupid and name call. What’s wrong with saying let me help these brother by any means necessary. Jealous

  41. Steve I apologize for abusing your sttention span. They were not words but phrases formed into complet sentences that were logical, ethical and thought stimulating. “Willie Lynch is alive Steve. Google that name and drom me a thought on what you find and not an insult.

  42. I agree with the boycott concept but honestly, $300 for some sneakers is small change compared to the $1500 and UP price of some red bottom Louboutins, the $600 and up price for a weave and $1000 price for an LV bag. Let’s look at ourselves too ladies…

  43. I blame LeBron James as much as I do Nike – if not more – but then he’s only following in the GREEDY footsteps of Michael Jordan and we all know he’s Mr. Honorary White Man – so Young, unemployed Blacks should steal, maim, do time or whatever means is necessary to get their sneakers – these are our role models? They’d never get my money and I definitely did not send my children the Wrong messages by encouraging them to buy these products. It’s a shame the more money you have the more you distance yourself from Your own People – become out of touch – or become who you really were in the first place. These shoes are of no interest to me I would never ever spend money on this garbage.’

  44. I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Boyce. I have seen too many people of color trying to act flamboyantly flush with cash; yet they living paycheck to paycheck. They got the brand new BMW but living in a run down apartment. They got gold chains and grills but they don’t pay their child support. We are too caught up in trying to maintain that “BALLER” image with no substance behind it. I hang with millionaires on a daily and they wear regular athletic shoes I doubt they spent more than $50 on. They drive cars costing less than $60k; but they flush in the bank and they OWN million dollar houses. We need to be more educated as consumers and how spending our money shapes our society in turn companies will have more respect for the black dollar. But not until then…. Another thing…. No athlete is anything but a pawn in the dollar game. Last athlete I saw stand for anything was Ali…. And he gets my upmost. Lebrons shoes are ugly.

  45. I am disappointed in LeBron James. First of all, as David Letterman rightly said, he sold himself out by leaving Cleveland- a broken community that could really have done with a star like him.
    Now selling himself out to Nike while he ould be using his millions to get poltical power and help his fellow black men.
    Black basketballers are no role models for us.

  46. There is an argument to be expressed on both sides of the fence.

  47. I am an African living in South Africa. I do not agree that it is the fault of corporations that we blacks always choose to go for expensive things. It does not help to complain about what is not the problem and try to damage the image of companies that are not only making money for their shareholders and directors but also feeding many black families. The same companies sponsor our Masters’ and PhD’s but we never go to the boardrooms and say that we do not want the money because it is made unethically; we might never graduate. When we complain, we “forget” about this fact (that there are many blacks who are employed by these companies). So, it is not only the white man owning the company who benefits but blacks as well. In my country, people call cheap and supposedly “fake” clothes “Fong Kong.” Many do not want to be seen wearing Fong Kongs; and many are ridiculed for wearing Fong Kongs. Is the problem with corporations or with blacks? I do not agree that it is with corporations but with us blacks. We know what our problem is but we are always ready to point at other things that are not in our control. How will making Nike’s cheaper improve our self-esteem or stop poor blacks from buying other more expensive items? We are very capable of saving money and supporting ourselves by creating wealth for ourselves but we do not believe. What we need as blacks is to accept ourselves and live positive lifestyles that promote management of self-esteem. I believe that the highest priority for us blacks is to improve our self-esteem. I believe that this will solve our problems and no one will ever have the power to put us down. We will be able to say “I am not buying that because it’s not for me” without worrying about what others are going to say about us. It is the same issue of self-esteem of individuals that is making African governments to fail their citizens like it is happening currently. People steal states’ funds and abuse authority because of the same problem. If we can solve this, Africa will advance very quickly and catch up with other nations – we are not that far behind. Each one of us has the ability to improve their self-esteem but what is in the businessman’s mind is not in our control. The sooner we accept this as our only challenge, the better it will be for generations to come. The longer we deny it, the worse are the chances of those future generations to survive.

  48. You are so right! And it isn’t just one segment of society – my 12yr old is as taken in by this cynical marketing as any impressionable teen – such a shame these athletes won’t stand up & say something!!

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