Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice / Jim Keady

Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice / Jim Keady

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With the launch of their 30th Anniversary re-boot of their JUST DO IT ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, Nike set the internet on fire and the social media blaze is still burning. But this deal had raised some really big social justice questions.
•Should Colin Kaepernick have signed his multi-million Nike deal given Nike’s history of exploitation of factory workers and economically disadvantaged consumers?
•Is Nike co-opting the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement and Kaep’s taking a knee to simply sell sneakers?
•Is Nike still abusing workers in sweatshops?

No one is better positioned to discuss these questions than Jim Keady. 

Back in the late 90s, Keady was forced from his coaching job at St. John’s University with the NCAA Division I National Champion Red Storm Men’s Soccer program when he refused to take part in a $3.5M endorsement deal with Nike. Keady took this stand because Nike was (and still is) paying poverty wages and physically, verbally, and sexually abusing workers in their sweatshops. Keady is the only athlete in the world to ever say no to taking part in a Nike endorsement deal because of their sweatshop abuses.

After taking his stand at St. John’s, Keady would later move to Tangerang, Indonesia where he spent one month living in a slum with Nike factory workers. He lost 25lbs trying to survive on their $1.25 a day sweatshop wage, sleeping on a cement floor and dealing with football-sized rats and fist-sized cockroaches. Having spent the last 20 years advocating for these same workers, Jim Keady can tell you with authority, Nike has NOT fixed their sweatshop problem.

Specific to the Kaepernick deal, Keady said:
The short of it is, Nike never does anything simply because it is the right thing to do. They do not care about social justice or human rights. This is about money. Period. They are still reeling because of the sexual misconduct allegations at Nike headquarters and want to pivot attention away from that. They also see this as a way to endear themselves to one of their largest bases of customers – young black men – to sell more sneakers. And they are banking on capturing the anti-Trump movement with this move. Again, to sell more sneakers. This is “cause marketing 101.”
Want to get this conversation going on your campus? Bring Jim Keady and Behind the Swoosh to your school this year.

What school are saying

Well we had about 150 people there and surprisingly they stayed for the duration of the presentation. Many of them seemed motivated to take action, so we are trying to set up some reflection sessions to talk about the issue further. Jim did an awesome job and was very engaging! They got some local press coverage. Thanks.

Jennifer Haren
Institute for Justice & Peace
Walsh University

Once again, thank you! Your presentation at John Carroll University last week was unbelievable! I have been to many a talk and presentation on justice issues and this was one of the best–truly very professional, organized and touching. Thanks again–you were so inspiring.

Pat K.
John Carroll University

Wow!! What a presentation. I knew and heard that it was good, but had no idea the impact it would have on myself and hopefully the others that were present. Besides their incredible message, I was so impressed with Jim. My 10th grade son was there and I was so happy for him to see such a role model. There was Jim, this handsome, athletic, well spoken, intelligent, young man that made a stand for what he believed in, The rights and dignity of others. I personally can’t think of anyone else that my son has met that is anything like that. What an opportunity for him. Thank you again for all of your help.

Jennifer Byrd
Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Category : Diversity and Multicultural &Environment &Film and Director &Jim Keady &Social Justice &Speakers

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