By Cavan Sieczkowski
"Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?" reads the caption beneath the Facebook post announcing Adidas' new high-top sneakers. The German sports brand's proposed new shoes feature orange rubber shackles fixed to the back of the sneaker that can be attached around the ankle. The sneakers have since been dubbed the "shackle shoes" after rousing fury for its racist connotation.
Adidas faced a furious backlash over its shackle shoes, or the JS Roundhouse Mids, from those who accused the brand of racism.
"The attempt to commercialize and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where blacks were considered three-fifths human by our Constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive," wrote Reverend Jesse Jackson, for the Huffington Post. "Removing the chains from our ankles and placing them on our shoes is no progress.
"For Adidas to promote the athleticism and contributions of a variety of African-American sports legends -- especially Olympic heroes Wilma Rudolph and Jesse Owens and boxing great Muhammad Ali -- and then allow such a degrading symbol of African-American history to pass through its corporate channels and move toward actual production and advertisement, is insensitive and corporately irresponsible."
Although Adidas initially defended the designer of the shackle shoes, Jeremy Scott, as having a "quirky" and "lighthearted" vision, the company turned around and announced it would pull the sneakers from its line, according to CNN.
"The design of the JS Roundhouse Mid is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott's outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery," the statement from Adidas said. "We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace."
The photo still remains posted on Adidas' official Facebook page and, at the time of this posting, has more than 38,000 "likes" and almost 4,000 comments.
"I'm very glad Adidas has decided not to sell this shoe," commented one Facebook user. "If you can't see how adding shackles to a pair of basketball sneakers is demeaning, you can't see much at all. Leaving that argument aside, these are not only butt ugly, but they were set to retail for THREE HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS. That's outrageous, given they have no function beyond making wearers look foolish."
"If any of you study the psychological effects of bondage in relation to any group of people or thing experiencing it under just or unjust conditions, studies show it's used to create fear, restrict and effect negatively the mental, physical and spiritual growth of the subject," commented another. "But when man gets farther and farther away from true knowledge of self he begans [sic] to accept being treated like and animal and you can then sell him chains and bondage without resistane [sic]."
"Forget the slavery angle for a moment -- why orange?" asked another. "Prison orange. Is prison an attractive concept now? 2/3 or more are filled with African American men. Is that the new cool... the new dope for un-incarcerated men, to emulate locked-up brothers by wearing symbols of their grief?
Others thought that the issue has been extremely overblown.
"Everyone equating these shoes with slavery are the true racists," wrote a Facebook user underneath the photo of Adidas' shackle shoes. "They are the ones perpetuating stereotypes and are the reason this kind of talk is even an issue anymore. I hope Adidas reconsiders their decision to pull these from shelves and tells these offended people to go pound sand."
"People of all 'races' wear Adidas," commented another. "Why do we have to jump to the conclusion that these are meant for a particular people group?"
Adidas is not the first sneaker brand to offend this year.
Nike announced plans to celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2012 with the release of the "Nike SB Black and Tan Quickstrike" to commemorate the Irish holiday. According to the Belfast Telegraph, Nike intended for "Black and Tan" to refer to the St. Patrick's Day drink made of a mix of stout and lager, usually Guinness and Harp. The sneaker was set to be released as part of a beer-inspired series, including the "Nike SB Dunk High 'Guinness'" colored black like the Ireland-brewed beer, ahead of St. Patrick's Day.
However, "Black and Tan" was also the name of the British paramilitary unit who brutally attacked Irish citizens in the 1920s to quell revolutions against British rule, reported the Belfast Telegraph.
The Black and Tans, otherwise known simply as "the Tans," killed and destroyed on a large scale, reported the Irish publication. "When a Tan was killed in Cork, they burnt down more than 300 buildings," added the paper. The Catholic cardinal at one time referred to them as "a horde of savages, some of them simply brigands, burglars and thieves."
What do you think of the Adidas "shackle shoes" controversy -- is it rooted in racism or is it completely groundless?
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