One of Nike's latest sneaker creations — dubbed by retailers "The Black and Tan" — is rolling out just in time for St. Patrick's Day. To many Americans the "Black and Tan" is the half stout, half pale ale drink. But to the Irish, it was a brutal paramilitary group employed by the British in the early twentieth century to put down Irish revolutionary fighters. Robert Siegel and Melissa Block have the story.
Black and Tan. That's the name used for a new Nike sneaker arriving just in time for St. Patrick's Day; it's also a nod to the popular beer mash-up. Just one problem: Black and Tan is also a term reviled in Ireland, a sneering reference to the British forces accused of mistreating Irish citizens in the 1920s.
In other words, it would be akin, in some circles, to naming a sneaker the Taliban or the Nazi.
Cue today's "sorry" from the athletic shoe giant: "We apologize," Nike said in a statement to Fox News. "No offense was intended."
Nike said the sneaker had been "unofficially named," even though several online retailers and sneaker websites, such as Kicks on Fire, wrote about the shoe using the name Nike SB Dunk Low "Black & Tan" label. Nike acknowledged that the name "can be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive."
To Americans, a "black and tan" usually refers to a creamy stout beer, such as Guinness, stacked atop a pale ale. And no doubt many an American will down one this weekend in honor of St. Patrick's Day, under the mistaken belief that it's a nod to the Irish.
But you might not want to order a black and tan in Ireland.
The Black and Tans, so nicknamed because of their uniforms, were part of a British escalation of violence and brutality against the Irish in the 1920s. The forces are "remembered for brutality" and "a systematic reprisal policy," according to Irish History.
Not all Irish are opposed to a shoe called "Black and Tan," however.
Over at Irish Central, where news of the Nike gaffe was well read, one sly commenter named "hotdubliner" suggested that Nike critics have it all backward:
"I say wear them proudly! The only place a 'Black and Tan' belongs is underfoot! Every time you kick a ball or pound them down by dancing them into the ground, hold that vision of divine retribution finally having its day!"