Black employees at Nike are not working for rest of the week as a protest against racially motivated killings in America, sources tell Complex. Some of the workers participating in the demonstration have set up an out-of-office alert on their email accounts explaining their absence.
“While I am out of office I will be using my time to combat social injustices,” the bounceback message reads. It features a long list of names of Black Americans who have been killed by the police, among them Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
The out-of-office email also has a list of ways people can combat social injustices. It focuses first on demanding justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot and paralyzed by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this month. “You can contact local and state officials to demand justice for Blake and for the police officers involved to be held accountable,” the message says.
The walkout at Nike comes the day after a historic protest in the NBA in which teams united to stage a walkout, deciding not to participate in playoff games. The NBA’s protest, started by players on the Milwaukee Bucks and inspired by the call for justice for Blake, caused the postponement of playoff games on Wednesday and Thursday. Per the latest reports, players do plan to resume the postseason, possibly as early as Friday.
In the wake of global Black Lives Matter protests this summer, Nike faced its own reckoning regarding race at the company. In June, the since-deactivated Instagram handle @blackatnike posted anonymous accounts from current and former brand employees detailing racism and microaggressions they’d experienced there. The account was unexpectedly shut down shortly after it gained traction in the industry. Similar accounts, like the subsequent @blackinfootwear on Instagram, have also disappeared without explanation.
The out-of-office email makes no explicit connection between the current movement at Nike, which was organized by young employees at the brand, and the racism alleged on accounts like @blackatnike.
Nike did not provide a comment on the protest at the company, pointing to its statement on Thursday expressing solidarity with athletes across the world standing against “the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake.” Sources say Nike leadership today internally stated its support for employees’ protest and encouraged them to take time off as they see fit.