The New 'Atlanta' Seems To Draw On Adidas' Real Life Race Problem
While many fans may have been expecting another anthology-esque divergence into the unknown, this week’s episode once again focused on our main cast of characters; Earn, Al, Darius, and even Van (briefly). “White Fashion” begins with an upscale fashion house whose “Central Park” jersey with a number “5” stitched on it … doesn’t go over so well.
So in an effort to save their image, the fashion brand, Esco Esco, enlists a handful of Black celebrities, including Paper Boi/Al, to attend a press conference and offer white reporters empty, mostly insane, promises that the company’s new initiatives would end racism “by 2024.”
Although he’s not the writer, nor the director of this episode (and ultimately, just one of a number of prominent collaborators working on the series), it’s still hard not to see Donald Glover as the authorial voice of Atlanta. Especially in this season, surely the European tour of a rap star whose career is exploding must have been somewhat informed by Glover’s own experiences touring as Childish Gambino – minus the ghosts.
And, following that line of thinking, this episode may have been secretly about sneakers.
While Glover never struck up a deal with a fancy pants fashion house, he did partner with Adidas between 2018 and 2020. And in that timeframe, Adidas did release a product that prompted a severe backlash – no it wasn’t Central Park 5 merch, but rather a pair of shoes celebrating the Harlem Renaissance for Black History Month, which were bafflingly all-white – and ultimately pulled.
In 2020, following their deal with Glover, Adidas’ human resources department was accused of racist practices, and employees demanded the company work to “better support the Black community.” Not unlike Esco Esco, they attempted to fix it with a donation of $20 million for “programs that support black communities” which employees called “laughable.” After further protests and bad press, they bumped it up to $120 million.
“White Fashion” has much more to say about a culture of appropriation and exploitation, and it’s also entirely possible that, since this kind of corporate bias and ensuing inept response is alarmingly common, the Adidas thing played no part in the inspiration for this episode – but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the writer and director of the episode, Ibra Ake, also directed the “Donald Glover Presents” short films for the Adidas tie-in …
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Top Image: FX