In a now-deleted tweet, Celtics guard Kemba Walker was captured wearing a “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden Flag-themed Jacket. The flag, which dates back to the revolutionary war, has been associated with far-right militia groups and white supremacy. So, as you can imagine, the picture sparked controversy and discussion on the guard’s motives for wearing it.
Kemba Walker was asked about wearing this jacket which has a flag associated with far-right politics. His answer made it pretty apparent he has no idea what it means, saying he liked the colors and the way it looked. No message meant by it. pic.twitter.com/BKSXFypFfr— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) May 19, 2021
Kemba responded to the controversy by stating he liked the colors, how it looked, and that there wasn’t “any message behind the jacket.”
His answer, though a bit lame, isn’t unusual. Last year, James Harden faced similar backlash when he wore a ‘thin blue line’ themed mask. For those that don’t know, the theme has ties to the Blue Lives Matter organization. Given the recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, Harden caught a lot of flack.
The 8-time all-star responded to criticism by saying, “Honestly, I wasn’t trying to make a political statement. I wore it because it covered my face, my beard.” He later added that he also thought it “looked cool.”
Like Harden, there’s no reason to assume that Kemba was lying in his explanation. More than likely, it was simply an honest mistake. But like Harden, Kemba learned the hard way that understanding what you’re wearing is just as (if not more) important as liking the look.
As a fashionista myself, I make sure my style is up-to-par. But living in today’s day and age, I also know that I must stay informed and learn my history to avoid issues such as this. The last thing anyone, let alone a famous athlete, wants to do is dawn a symbol with racist ties. Whether you do it on purpose or by accident, it looks just as bad.