New Balance says it’s not the “shoes of white people,” despite neo-Nazis’ claims

Given the green light to really build their brand in the wake of the 2016 election, white supremacists and neo-Nazis wasted virtually no time scoping out a brand of shoes worthy of being the “official shoes of white people.” Over the weekend, the white supremacist website The Daily Stormer declared New Balance sneakers to be the brand of the “Trump revolution,” leading many of the company’s customers to burn their shoes in justified disgust. But Monday morning, the company’s vice president of public affairs Matt LeBretton emerged to do some serious damage control by announcing that no, New Balance does not condone white supremacy and neo-Nazism, because apparently we now live in a country where companies have to do this.

In a statement, the company declared that it “does not tolerate bigotry or hate in any form,” and added, “As a 110-year-old company with five factories in the U.S. and thousands of employees worldwide from all races, genders, cultures and sexual orientations, New Balance is a values-driven organization and culture that believes in humanity, integrity, community and mutual respect for people around the world.”

Apparently, the controversy around the brand all relates to its disdain for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would reduce tariffs and quotas on imported goods, but at the cost of American jobs. In an interview that New Balance now claims was taken out of context, LeBretton stated that “things are going to move in the right direction” under president-elect Donald Trump, and that the Obama administration had “turned a deaf ear” on the company.

Now, New Balance claims LeBretton was referring solely to the status of the TPP, which President Obama rigorously supported, while former presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and president-elect Trump all opposed the pact. CNN reports that the company previously issued a statement saying it “publicly supported the trade positions of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump prior to election day that focused on American manufacturing job creation, and we continue to support them today.”

Sure, it’s really disturbing that we now live in a society that’s being dragged so far backwards that white supremacist news outlets have been seriously emboldened and we’re now seeing products set aside exclusively for white people. But if you look at the predominantly old white men who are wearing New Balance sneakers, some on social media have noted New Balance already is the official shoe brand of white people. And it’s not only racist but also pretty damn extra of neo-Nazis to take it upon themselves and shout this out to the world.