Author and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson weighed in Wednesday on Nike nixing a shoe that used an early American flag designed by Betsy Ross, arguing that "symbols matter."

"Words matter. Symbols matter too. Why don’t we wear a swastika for July Fourth? Because, I don’t know, it makes a difference. The cross burning on somebody’s lawn. Why don’t we just have a Nike celebration of the cross? Well, because those symbols are symbols of hate," Dyson said during an interview with MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson.


The company reportedly canceled the new shoe featuring the Revolutionary War-era flag design from Ross after former NFL player Colin Kaepernick spoke out against the image, calling it offensive.

Dyson said the flag is associated with an era of slavery in America, but far-right groups have also adopted it in opposition to diversity in America. 

"It’s the recent use of this flag that has been most opprobrious," Dyson said. "Right-wing white supremacists have used it as a rallying cry for their own cause."

"This flag has been used by people who want to pummel African Americans, Latinx, Jews and other people, neo-Nazis who want to claim that they have the true copyright on American identity. So why not choose a flag that is representative of everybody?" Dyson continued. 

Dyson said the flag could be reclaimed from far-right groups to educate Americans on the Revolutionary War era in the United States but added that people should advocate for racial justice issues before they rail against "PC culture."

"People have their right to weigh in as they choose, but the reality is that this flag has represented something that is offensive and opprobrious, and if people want to reclaim it, then do so," Dyson said.