My son wore a Nike shirt yesterday. Why? Because he likes the colors, the material and the way it fits. At the same time, there are pictures and videos being posted on social media, of adults burning their Nike branded clothing and cutting the swoosh off of their socks. I am not judging these adults for their actions, any more than I judged Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the National Anthem, or Nike for their ad. We all make choices every day and we all need to be prepared to deal with the consequences of those choices. My challenge to everyone reading this post, is rather than judging one another for our choices, to think about the impact our choices have on our children.
Having grown up in a conservative family, I’ve been on a journey to open my mind, seek to understand and help others to do the same. Most recently, I embraced my children on this journey. I looked for age appropriate resources to help them recognize and understand differences between themselves and others, and teach them that differences are okay.
To help them understand diversity, I picked up “The Great Big Book of Families” by Mary Hoffman. I have loved reading this book with them and seeing the different things that catch their interest and answering their questions. The book doesn’t just talk about differences in families but also touches on differences with regard to holidays, hobbies, jobs, school, feelings and more.
When I thought about my son and his Nike shirt, and many children returning to school this week, I thought about the section in Mary’s book that touches on clothes; “Some children get new clothes. Others have hand-me-downs…. Or their clothes come from thrift stores.”
The following questions went through my head;
- What about the child who is wearing their older sibling’s Nike branded hand me downs?
- What about the child whose family was excited to have found some like-new Nike items at a thrift store?
- What about the child whose family stretched their budget to buy their children brand new Nike sneakers?
- What about the child whose favorite new item of school clothing is Nike branded?
- Will these children be able to wear their Nike branded clothing without facing judgement and potential ridicule?
Another book I recently picked up at the local library was “The Judgmental Flower” by Julia Cook. In the car on the way home, I dove in and started reading aloud. My friend who was driving, asked why I was reading him a children’s book. I told him that EVERYONE could benefit from reading this book. There is a line that says “If you can learn to celebrate differences, being judgmental won’t pull you apart.”
There are pictures of two different worlds in Julia’s book; one where all of the flowers are blue and another with several different colored flowers. I ask my children which world they would rather live in; the blue one where everyone is valued for being the same, or the brightly colored world where everyone is valued for being different and unique?
I ask the adults reading this post to think long and hard about the reality of the world we live in; the brightly colored world where everyone is different and unique. It’s up to us, to help make it one where everyone is valued for being themselves, rather than one where everyone is judged for being different.
My goal with this post, is not to argue right or wrong, but to encourage reflection. If you vow never to wear Nike again and instead want to burn your shoes, I won’t judge you. In return, I ask that you please not judge my child or anyone else’s, for continuing to wear their Nike branded apparel. I would also ask that rather than burning your shoes or cutting the swoosh off your socks and posting on social media, to instead think about donating those items, and the difference in the message that choice, sends to your children and mine.