I came across this Kevin Durant shoe that seems to scream cultural appropriation to me.
The shoe raises money for Nike, Kevin Durant and some Native American athletic programs (I assume in that order). But the description is a toxic collection of generalizations and stereotypes mashed together.
The bold Nike N7 KD VI features the repeating pattern of arrows that first launched on the Pendleton Woolen Mills Nike N7 blanket last month. The arrow print symbolizes energy and forward motion and has reflective built in for a surprise effect when worn in the elements. The bold colors used on the KD VI have significant meaning in Native communities. Turquoise is used often as a color symbolic of friendship, and red is one of four colors—yellow, red, black and white—featured on the traditional Native America medicine wheel, representing movement and the four directions. The KD logo appears on the heel and the N7 logo is on the tongue.
That is amazing! Red is a color significant for Native Americans! Whoa! It is good to know where that stuff comes from (sarcasm). How about vague ambiguity when it comes to so-called native symbols and precise articulation of the Kevin Durant logo?
Nike has also developed a wide shoe, the Air Native N7, for Native North American’s supposedly wider feet (they measured 224 indians feet to justify this claim!) While criticizing the marketing of this shoe, we can lay some of the News from Indian Country analysis against this Kevin Durant shoe press release.
Some vocal opponents of the Air Native N7 believe the shoe line indeed fosters stereotypes because, along with the companys trademark swoosh, the footwear features feathers, arrowheads, sunset designs and circle of life motifs. Nike officials have said the product is designed to deliver sustainable innovation, and the N7 portion of its name is meant to encourage a seventh generation ethos.
In my opinion, the whole idea is racist, says Eugene Johnson, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, whos paid close attention to the development of the shoe line. This is a branding scheme of advertising that Nike is known for I have no doubt that the sales folks are hoping that Indian sympathizers and the general public will be thinking of how Nike is so charitable in thinking of the Indians, thus, increasing sales through the usual brand of Nike branding advertising.
I happen to agree that the dual marketing benefit of being seen as charitable to anonymous poor indians helps to sell the shoe as does the appropriation of cultural symbols. I think the same might be said about this Kevin Durant shoe.