Every time I think of this story, it saddens me and makes me angry at the same time.
This past Saturday, December 21st, marked the one-year anniversary that 22-year old Joshua Woods was shot and killed after he and a friend bought the newly released Nike Air Jordan XI ‘Bred’ sneakers, first released 12 years ago, that had a retro look dating back to 2001 and had only become available to the public in the United States the morning that Woods was shot.
Woods and his friend got up early, to be one of the first in line to buy the latest Air Jordan tennis shoes. Both young men bought several pairs of the newly released Air Jordans at Willowbrook Mall, in Houston, before being followed from the mall and Woods being killed over the shoes.
If there was ever a cultural phenomenon that has picked up steam year after year, one need not look any further than the Nike Air Jordan brand of tennis shoes. You would have to be hiding under a rock to have not seen or heard about it.
People stand in line for hours and even camp out overnight, seeking to buy the latest release and the response to the shoes always have people scratching their heads and asking themselves what would prompt people to rob, steal and even kill others in order to have them.
I am getting downright sick and tired of hearing people push back on the fact that they believe Nike and Michael Jordan shouldn’t be held accountable for the way they market and sale their Air Jordan shoe product. While I agree that consumers should be responsible for their actions, not all consumers are criminals or heathens, as is often portrayed in the mainstream media. Every time I look up, somebody is saying that the consumer should bear the responsibility for this systematic chaos that has been created by Nike, all for the sake of making a profit.
Woods’ mother, Dazie Williams, lost her son and how did they express their condolences to her after her repeated attempts to address this issue and curb the violence? They released another limited-edition sneaker on the anniversary date…..Shame on Nike!
This past Saturday, the Gamma Blue 11 was released and countless news reports littered the Internet and social media, showing violence and incidents occurring in shoe stores all the way from Stockton, CA to the Bronx, NY. Same thing….Different release day.
Now I am hardly on Instagram, but when I happened to jump on over the weekend, I saw a video of some guys fighting inside a store in Stockton, CA; where at one point this young guy with his shirt off is seen getting beat down to the floor as other people are seen squabbling in the store. Then earlier in the day, at a mall in Dallas, violence erupted when a group of people tried to cut a long line to be the first to get the new Air Jordan release.
There are more stories to list and highlight, but it doesn’t matter to me whether you blame NIKE, Michael Jordan, the parents, the community, the culture, the kids or whomever, this issue must be addressed.
Michael Jordan and Nike called Dazie Williams to express their condolences and promise that they would work on addressing this issue with her. To date, she has not heard another mumbling word from them. Nike knowingly releasing the shoe on the same day as the anniversary of her son’s death tells me everything I need to know about how they plan to address the issue and work with this grieving mother to make a change; they don’t care at all.
People ask me all the time about what my expectations of Nike are, and I say Nike must immediately change the way they market and sale their shoes to the general public. For the greater good, many times we must do what’s right; even if it requires change and the potential loss of profit.
While it is true that there are other examples of products out there that cause people to stand in long lines and act crazy at times, there is no other product in recent memory that has done the type of psychological and physical harm that this Air Jordan shoe has done to our community.
When consumers who purchased Toyota products were being killed due to a product malfunction, Toyota recalled those vehicles because there was a known issue with the product that led to death. Do you turn a blind eye to an issue that leads to death that your product is responsible for and blame the consumer for the outcome because they should have been more cognizant of what they were purchasing and the risks involved? No!
There are many who wish to let Nike off the hook and solely blame the consumer, but I won’t stand for it. Sending anywhere from 8 to 30 shoes to one store, when you know there are hundreds and thousands who want the shoe, is ridiculous.
Joshua Woods wasn’t trying to be foolishly stylish or flashy; he simply wanted the shoes just like anyone else who wants to buy nice things for themselves or others. Joshua had every right to buy those shoes and there is nothing wrong with it. He was targeted, followed and gunned down. I stand with his mother to make sure his memory is never forgotten and that others avoid his fate.
I have a son and his name is Joshua too and this hits home to me. I attended Joshua Woods’ funeral and I witnessed the pain his murdered caused first hand and now four other young Black males are facing capital murder charges and the possible death penalty because of Woods’ death.
I stand with Dazie Williams and I’m promoting and supporting her organization www.lifeoverfashion.org and I’ve already signed the petition and I challenge everyone to join me and do the same. I’m also committed to providing solutions to this issue within our community, while also putting constant and strategic pressure on Nike. I’m getting down with soldiers who have the same concerns that I do. Will you join me? What if it was your son?