Updated Oct. 26: NBA star Enes Kanter is protesting Nike for what he sees as a “silent” response to the mistreatment on minorities in China.
In a game against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, the Boston Celtics center wore customized white shoes with the words “Hypocrite Nike” and “Made With Slave Labor” written on them. The move came shortly after Kanter posted a video on Twitter calling out Nike for not doing enough to protest injustice in China.
He specifically noted the oppression of minorities and forced labor among the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang region, which has been associated with manufacturing products for various companies in the U.S.
The basketball player has previously advocated against the Communist Party of China and the forced labor of Uyghurs in factories.
“Nike claims that they do not allow any forced labor in their supply chains. Yet, they don’t have the receipt to prove it,” Kanter said in the video. “They have not provided clear timelines or updates about their efforts to end this. They have not publicly committed to the steps outlined by the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labor.”
Nike has previously stated that it does not source products from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and said that its Code of Conduct and Code Leadership Standards prohibit forced or indentured labor. Nike said it has found no evidence of Uyghur or other ethnic minority from XUAR employment in its supply chain.
“Nike takes very seriously any reports about forced labor and we have been engaging with multi-stakeholder working groups to assess collective solutions that will help preserve the integrity of our global supply chains,” Nike wrote in a public statement previously. “We regularly provide insight and feedback at the request of policymakers on a wide range of public policy issues, including human rights and supply chain integrity, and have not lobbied against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, or any other proposed forced labor legislation.”
— Enes Kanter FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) October 25, 2021
Nike Inc. is the official uniform and apparel maker for the NBA. FN has reached out for a comment.
China, along with Vietnam, is a key manufacturing hub for many major footwear and apparel brands in the U.S. According to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), 68.3% of U.S. athletic footwear came from China as far back as 1996. In 2021, that percentage was 62.2%.