An e-mail from WWD to the Black at Nike creators bounced back Thursday as undeliverable. Twenty-four hours earlier the anonymous creators had used that same address to communicate with WWD.
Asked about claims that Nike was responsible for deleting the account, a Nike spokesman said, “We have no knowledge of who owns the accounts or why they were taken down.”
The Nike spokesman did not respond when asked if the company plans to follow up and investigate any of the allegations that had been posted.
A spokeswoman for Instagram said the platform did not remove the account. “There are many reasons why an account may no longer be accessible from its prior URL, including for example, if the account holder deleted the account, deactivated the account or changed the account username,” she said.
Asked if another reason for removal could be due to a third party or law firm threatening legal action, the Instagram spokeswoman said the company cannot comment on hypothetical situations. “We respond to valid legal requests but do not comment on specific cases,” she said.
As of Wednesday morning, @BlackatNike had amassed nearly 8,600 followers and 76 alleged experiences had been shared on the Instagram page. Nike had 117.4 million followers on Instagram as of Thursday afternoon.
Set up to amplify Black voices of current and former Nike staffers, the Black at Nike group encouraged staffers of color to send their stories via a Google link to the non-Nike-affiliated site. Respondents were advised not to name those who were allegedly responsible for the acts of racism and microaggressions.
As of 2019, 22 percent of Nike’s 76,000 employees worldwide identified as Black or African American.
Although the account’s creators said they had agreed not to do any media interviews Wednesday, they had provided some information about their initiatives. They indicated that many Black employees had been “suffering in silence alone. Many have been laid off due to retaliation. Many feel they should shut up and work, in fear of not being able to thrive in the corporate system.”
They also called on Nike’s senior leaders to value the employees of color in the same way they value consumers of color. “Nike can no longer turn a blind eye to the racism that is happening on their watch, every single day at WHQ in Beaverton, Ore., and in their stores around the world.”
One of the @BlackatNike posts referred to a current white female vice president, who allegedly referred to tennis ace Serena Williams (a Nike-sponsored athlete) as “scary” to some consumers. That executive allegedly described Williams in that manner at two Nike sportswear meetings.