Nike had to face the fighting Irish after the offensive idea to release a seasonal Black and Tan sneaker ahead of St. Patrick's Day 2012.
Nike announced plans to celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2012 with the release of the Nike SB Black and Tan Quickstrike to commemorate the Irish holiday. According to the Belfast Telegraph, Nike intended for Black and Tan to refer to the St. Patrick's Day drink made of a mix of stout and lager, usually Guinness and Harp. The sneaker was set to be released as part of a beer-inspired series, including the Nike SB Dunk High 'Guinness' colored black like the Ireland-brewed beer, ahead of St. Patrick's Day.
Advertisements for the sneaker read: Tis the season for Irish beer and why not celebrate with Nike. The Black and Tan sneaker takes inspiration for the fine balancing act of a Stout (Guinness) on top a Pale Ale (Harp) in a pint glass.
However, Black and Tan was also the name of the British paramilitary unit who brutally attacked Irish citizens in the 1920s to quell revolutions against British rule, reported the Belfast Telegraph.
The Black and Tans, otherwise known simply as the Tans, killed and destroyed on a large scale, reported the Irish publication. When a Tan was killed in Cork, they burnt down more than 300 buildings, added the paper. The Catholic cardinal at time referred to them as a horde of savages, some of them simply brigands, burglars and thieves.
The L.A. Times noted that, It would be akin, in some circles, to naming a sneaker the Taliban or the Nazi.
Nike issued an apology for the insensitivity of the Black and Tan name. This month Nike is scheduled to release a version of the Nike SB Dunk Low that has been unofficially named by some using a phrase that can be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive. We apologize. No offence was intended, the company said in a statement to the UK's Telegraph.
Ciaran Staunton, President of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, was not amused. Is there no one at Nike able to Google Black and Tan? he said to the Telegraph.
The Black and Tan, St. Patrick's Day-themed sneakers are set to retail at $90. There is no word on whether the sneakers will be pulled or if the name will be changed. However, some have pointed out a much larger issue than the offensive Black and Tan name -- the offensive beer-theme collection overall.
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, Brian Boyd of the Irish Times told NPR. It's how the American treat St. Patrick's Day. So we're using this story to say, look, it's the silly Americans, stupid Americans, look what they're doing again. They've got it all wrong.