If it weren’t for Facebook, we may have been seeing these sneakers shackled to people’s feet come autumn time. However, Adidas’ JS Roundhouse Mids won’t be making their way onto anyones feet as a result of social media.
Adidas posted the photo you see above on its Facebook page with the caption: “Tighten up your style with the JS Roundhouse Mids, dropping in August.” It was this post that led to huge backlash on Facebook. People began commenting on the photo, criticizing the shoes for being racist and insensitive to slavery. According to NPR, Rev. Jesse Jackson was among those against the shoes. He had this to say: “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. Removing the chains from our ankles and placing them on our shoes is no progress. … These slave shoes are odious and we as a people should be called to resent and resist them.”
In response to the negative feedback that went viral via Facebook, Adidas canceled the release of the shoes altogether, and issued a statement:
“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 said. “We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”
Our response to the whole hullabaloo is less geared toward the idea that slavery is being promoted by a Adidas (we really don’t think that was the intention here). We’re more interested in the pure fact of the matter: the shoe likely would have made its way out of production and onto people’s feet in the past, when Facebook didn’t exist. As a result, is social media acting as a sort of filter for the inappropriate? Is it weeding out the bad ideas before they make their way into the world? Would, say, hammer pants have ever been actually made if the creators had had Facebook and shared a photo of them before they were sold in stores?