Nike’s gone and stuck its Black and Tan foot right in its mouth where the Irish are concerned, naming a new sneaker after a drink popular in the U.S. and Britain that also happens to be the name of a violent paramilitary group in 1920s Ireland.
The SB Dunk Low, known also as “The Black and Tan” brings to mind mixing Guinness and Harp ale, something Americans and Brits love to order. What they might not know is that the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, known as the Black and Tans, were a violent group that terrorized civilians during Ireland’s civil war in the early part of the 20th century.
Nike has since apologized, saying, “We apologize. No offense was intended.” They’re not the first to make this gaffe — Ben & Jerry’s had their own accidentally offensive product back in 2006.
NPR’s WNYC.org spoke with Brian Boyd of the Irish Times, who explained why it’s so not cool of Nike to use the idea of Irish drinking and violence to market a shoe. He says that you would never order a Black and Tan in Ireland — not only because of the terrible associations with the group, but because real Irish don’t dilute their Guinness.
Beyond that, if you look inside the shoe, there’s an image of a pint of beer with two colors, black and tan. That’s also bad, says Boyd.
It’s how the Americans view Saint Patrick’s Day and view Irish culture and history. And it’s the very fact that some people are saying that these are beer-themed sneakers, that the only way to celebrate a national holiday of a country with a very rich culture and a very rich history and literature, et cetera, is to pour massive amounts of alcohol down your body.
Got that, Irish-Americans flaunting “Kiss Me, I’m Irish/Drunk” green T-shirts, flooding the streets and spewing vomit everywhere on St. Patrick’s Day while trying to pick fights with passersby? You’re. Doing. It. Wrong. And your Grandmother Donnelly would be ashamed of you, to boot.