Adidas scrap trainers with ‘shackles’ after racism row

Channels Television  
Updated June 20, 2012

A racism row has forced Adidas to scrap its plans for a pair of trainers with ‘shackles’.

Critics had compared the ‘JS Roundhouse Mids’, to be released in August, to the chains worn by black slaves in the 19th century.

Now the sportswear giant has cancelled the launch of the Jeremy Scott-designed footwear and apologised for causing any offence.

The firm said: ‘The trainer is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery.

‘Since the shoe debuted on our Facebook page ahead of its market release in August, adidas has received both favourable and critical feedback.

‘We apologise if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.’

The firm had unveiled the trainers on its Facebook page. They feature plastic orange ‘shackles’ attached to the ankles by chains in the same colour.

They sparked an angry debate online. More than 2,000 Facebook users have commented, with many calling the design ‘offensive’ and ‘ignorant’, saying the firm has ‘sunk to new lows’ with its ‘slave wear’ product.

One, ‘Kay Tee’, said: ‘It’s offensive and inappropriate in many ways… How would a Jewish person feel if they decided to have a shoe with a swastika on it and tried to claim it was OK in the name of fashion?’

Many have said the shoes have connotations of the slave trade

Dr Boyce Watkins, writing for Your Black World, said: ‘Shackles, the stuff that our ancestors wore for 400 years while experiencing the most horrific atrocities imaginable.’

‘Most of which were never documented in the history books and kept away from you in the educational system, all so you’d be willing to put shackles on your ankles today and not be so sensitive about it.’

The Professor at Syracuse University said he accepted some people would accuse him of overreacting. But he added: ‘There is always a group of negroes who are more than happy to resubmit themselves to slavery.

‘I’m offended by these shoes as there is nothing funny about the prison industrial complex, which is the most genocidal thing to happen to the black family since slavery itself.’

Others have likened the shoes’ orange ‘bracelets’ to the shackles worn by prisoners across the America, or said the firm is ‘promoting slavery’.

That is because the Black and Tans were the nickname given to the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, which became notorious for a brutal crackdown during the independence war.

One outraged Irish American claimed it was the equivalent of calling a shoe ‘the Al Qaeda’.

The trainer is officially called the Nike SB Dunk Low, but has been nicknamed The Black and Tan for its colourings. An advertisement for the shoe says: ‘Tis the season for Irish beer and why not celebrate with Nike.

‘The Black and Tan sneaker takes inspiration for the fine balancing act of a stout on top pale ale in a pint glass.’

Others Irish Americans criticised Nike for being ‘oblivious’ to the historical connotation.

Six years ago ice cream firm Ben & Jerry’s caused a furore when it launched a Black and Tan flavour. The product was quickly withdrawn.

Athough only deployed from 1920 to 1922, nationalist Ireland still associates the Black and Tans with murder, brutality, massacre and indiscipline in the years leading to southern Ireland’s independence

Historians say there is no dispute that ‘the Tans’ killed and destroyed on a large scale, and recorded that when a Tan was killed in Cork, they burnt down more than 300 buildings.

The Catholic cardinal of the day called them ‘a horde of savages, some of them simply brigands, burglars and thieves’.