How Jenifer Lewis "Ran" the Emmy's

Last week, the world watched the 70th Annual Emmy Awards honoring the best of the best primetime television. Stars showed up for the red carpet in style, suits and gowns galore. We saw silk, satin, suede, and...sweatshirt?

Jenifer Lewis boldly wore a full Nike outfit to the Emmys. I’d tell you why she did it, but she said it better herself: “I am wearing Nike to applaud them for supporting Colin Kaepernick and his protest against racial injustice and police brutality”, Lewis told Variety on the Emmys red carpet.

On September 1, 2016, Colin Kaepernick sent shock waves through the media when he chose to kneel during the national anthem at the 49ers' final 2016 preseason game. The act was backed by the rapidly growing Black Lives Matter movement as a peaceful protest against racial injustice and police brutality. Kaepernick and other players that followed in his footsteps received harsh and immediate backlash.

Two years later, they are standing by their beliefs. Now, Nike has joined the conversation, creating an ad campaign with Kaepernick front and center for their 30th Anniversary. The ad reads: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

(Photo: Colin Kaepernick via Twitter)

Kaepernick tweeted the ad picture at the start of this month, and some Nike fans went a little haywire. Seeing the ad and protests as anti-American in nature, many made a public display of burning their precious Nike sneakers.  Lewis attended the Emmys for her critically acclaimed ABC sitcom Black-ish. Although Lewis was not personally nominated for any awards, the show and other cast members made up six nominations, including Best Comedy Series.

While talking to a CNN reporter about her outfit, Lewis continued with the message that, “I speak to the millennials tonight, to tell them they are not alone in standing up, we’re right behind them. Their ancestors are standing behind them, who took two knees and two hands, picking cotton.” Even though this protest began on the football field, Lewis has shown us that this conversation belongs everywhere. Sports and theatre enthusiasts alike take a stand to push back against oppression because it is present at every moment in our lives, even if we don’t realize it.

The Nike ad came out after NFL owners issued a formal mandate that forbids players from sitting or taking a knee during the national anthem. Instead, they are allowing players to protest by absence. They may remain in the locker room during the national anthem. This is a less-than-satisfactory answer to a persistent, big-picture problem. The NFL released a statement following the ad campaign that read, in part, “The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.” It is interesting that they deserve attention, yet the protests are being removed from the public eye.

Despite public opinion, and even Presidential opinion, as Trump tweeted that Nike would be “killed” by their decision to support Kaepernick, CBS News reported that Nike’s market value has skyrocketed. The company has gained nearly $6 billion since the the ad dropped.