Adidas ‘Shackle Shoes’ Get The Boot

By Arturo R. García

Courtesy: CNN

Not even Run-DMC could’ve made these Adidas sound like a good idea.

Fortunately, the company reversed course Monday, opting not to release the shoes pictured above, the JS Roundhouse Mids, named after designer Jeremy Scott, who had said on Twitter that the shoes were inspired by My Pet Monster dolls. He did not, however, explain either how the image of somebody walking around with shoes couldn’t bring up images of imprisonment–let alone outright slavery–as Syracuse University’s Dr. Boyce Watkins described at Your Black World:

When I see the shoes, I also think about the ankle bracelets being worn by far too many men who are affected by the mass incarceration epidemic that the White House says nothing about. The black family has ripped itself apart because so many of our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons are locked away in prison, leading their children vulnerable to all the horrible things that happen when the man of the house is not away. I am offended by these shoes because there is nothing funny about the prison industrial complex, which is the most genocidal thing to happen to the black family since slavery itself.

Adidas wasn’t very talkative either, releasing a boilerplate statement citing Scott’s “quirky” and “lighthearted” style and apologizing “if people were offended by the design.” Meanwhile, according to Zap2it, he stuck to retweeting supporters dismissing such questions as the work of internet trolls. Because that’s a sensible response, right?

Ultimately, the JS Roundhouses will join Nike’s “Black and Tans” and “Air Allahs,” Umbro’s “Zyklons” and Converse’s “Loaded Weapons” on the pile of debacles that could’ve easily been avoided had a little common sense and empathy been allowed into the creative process.

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  • pam ana

    I absolutely HATE those “I’m sorry IF I OFFENDED YOU” (fake) apologies!! Its like saying “I have no idea what you’re mad about, but if giving you one will get you off my back, then here you go…whatever”. I swear every time a company/celebrity/politician/etc. does some racist nonsense like this they release the same bs statement. ANYTHING to avoid taking any responsibility. 

  • NK4

    It shows what they really think of their customers. If they had thought about it then they wouldn’t have revealed themselves so openly.

  • Karmastar

    If anyone grew up wearing “fly” sneakers back in the day, you’d remember the fear of having them stolen off our feet. Getting jumped for your kicks is something a lot kids remember, whether it happened to them or a friend.When I saw these shoes, having been a kid that used to love sneakers, I thought “Finally, kicks so fly they’re inseparable from the wearer.”  

    Jeremy Scott has consistently designed great shoes for Adidas, when he was drawing these up he was certainly NOT thinking “I want black kids to wear these so they can appear like slaves with shackles on their feet. Shoes are the best way to keep those people down.”  This guy is a sneakerhead and a fashion designer, 

    This is not an issue of “evil corporate America trying to keep the black man down”  It’s about “fly” sneakers (it’s all about the marketing ofcourse) that are getting a bad rep from people like Jesse Jackson who don’t wear sneakers. If I gave pairs of these sneakers to a mixed race group of teenagers that live in 2012, they would not be treated the ones with the shackles as “slaves.”  Jeremy Scott sneakers are EXPENSIVE, they are a fashion statement.  Look  at the rappers that wear his kicks like Kanye or the younger ASAP Rocky, they do it to look different.  

    Kids in the hood will not be wearing these, you can’t walk into your average shoe store and buy Adidas designed by Jeremy Scott; they’re usually the most expensive one that you can only find at their flagship stores.  The shoes he designs aren’t exactly functional, look at his catalog.  The one with the panda heads does not encourage the decapitation of pandas.  The same goes for the one with gorilla heads, and they’re not even functional as sneakers.

    • k.eli

      I really hope this was a sarcastic response and I misread it because if not – holy cow! There is so much wrong with those sneakers and your response that I don’t know where to begin. 

      “…he was certainly NOT thinking “I want black kids to wear these so they can appear like slaves with shackles on their feet.” Intent means nothing when it comes to engaging in racially-offensive antics. In fact, I would argue that the whole “I didn’t intend it to be racist” trope is one of the hallmarks of white privilege; one never has to own up to their dumbassery so long as they didn’t “intend” to offend anyone. Forget that whole centuries-long history of slavery in America. Heck, forget the fact that there are more people enslaved across the world today than there ever were during the times of slavery in the Americas. Those people don’t count because they couldn’t afford a pair of his shoes, right?

      “Kids in the hood will not be wearing these…” Oh that’s right, because all kids in the hood are black and all black people are from the hood. We middle and upper-class black people are apparently just myths fabricated by white liberals and progressives as a means to assuage their guilt. Sorry to inform you, but we do exist and we do wear sneakers and we have every right to call out crap like this for what it is. 

    • NK4

      That excuse doesn’t even make sense. I assume once you put these shoes on it isn’t impossible to ever take them off again. A scary youth from “the hood” could just as easily force a respectable youth from the suburbs to unlock their shackle as untie their shoe laces. Really, if a lock was proof against theft then nobody would ever be able to steal a car or rob a house; if you can’t think through your racism you better at least think through your excuses.

      Poor people aren’t good enough to wear his fancy shoes but they’re good enough to advertise them right? These companies try to make their products look “cool” by associating themselves with Black culture and “kids from the hood” and this is the association in their minds – slavery. What would African rappers look like if they wore those shoes, “different”?? It is disgusting but not different only more openly disgusting than their usual disgusting exploitation.

  • StrngeFruit

    smh. I am reminded of Hank Willis Thomas’s work:

  • Anonymous

    Just tell me if they haven’t got one single person more so coloured person with common sense on their development and marketing team…Yohan, please give up that sponsorship and y0ur Moniker!!! You ain’t no Beast son!!!