I have referenced Nike’s ad, “Just Do It,” while counseling individuals to make a change, to say the words, and to dream big. It was the title of last week’s article on the topic of washing hands, social distancing, and wearing masks.
This past week Nike released a new ad, “For Once, Don’t Do It,” calling on Americans to confront racism in our country. I’m not writing this to sell Nike shoes, but I do respect their stance on the plight of racism. The death of George Floyd was beyond tragic, as was the violence that followed. Again. I don’t get what makes one person believe they are better than others because of skin color.
But, when prejudice raises its ugly head, it affects my mental wellness, and I hope it affects yours too. If we can’t feel empathy or at least sympathy for the pain of others, we need to question our mental wellness.
I have felt our country’s pain for a long time, but especially during the last couple of weeks. Like school shootings—thoughts and prayers don’t cut it anymore.
My childhood in Akron, Colorado, was in an environment of near-zero diversity. An elderly Black couple lived next door, and they sat on their front porch in the evening and always treated me, a neighborly pest, with kindness and smiles. We also had one Mexican family in town, and we were good friends. My parents modeled acceptance—they believed we were not lesser-than or better-than anybody else.
In Sunday School, we sang, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black, and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” In school, I learned, “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” I knew equality didn’t include intelligence, health, looks, or abilities, but it meant we are all worthy of being treated as equal humans. If my parents, God, and our Founding Fathers believed it, it must be true.
It is still my truth. Call me naive, but I believe those words. I walk clearly on one side of that fence. I’m not always aware of someone’s skin color, but I do notice and reject unkindness, ignorance, and misuse of power—behaviors my parents, my God, and my country also decline.
When Nike says, “For Once, Don’t Do It,” they are saying, don’t accept, don’t pretend, don’t turn your back, and don’t think you can’t be part of the change.
I like that.
Until the next time: Live while you live
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