March 1, 2022

Levi’s Were Once A Symbol of Free Expression, Now They Represent The Woke Mob

By: Brittany Hunter

After enduring extreme bullying over her views on Covid school closures, Levi’s former brand president, Jennifer Sey, recently went public about her decision to leave the company after 23 years.

A mother of four, Sey has always been an advocate for children—a passion she never felt she had to hide from her employers. 

As a former teen gymnast, she was disturbed by the degradation she experienced as a child athlete, which is where her activism first began. She later penned a memoir on the topic, a decision that was met with threats and backlash from the gymnastic community. 

But Levi’s had her back, supporting her throughout the entire debacle. 

When the pandemic began, she grew concerned over the swiftness in which schools across the country shutdown and sent children home to learn remotely. She was especially concerned for the disadvantaged students who were already dealing with instability and unpredictability at home. For them, attending school each day was imperative. 

Sey wrote op-eds, appeared on television, attended town halls, organized rallies, and spoke with mayors questioning the mass closure of schools. 

From her perspective, her opinions were not controversial. It wasn’t like she was some right-wing conspiracy theorist. In fact, she was a progressive who had supported Elizabeth Warren. 

But that didn’t stop her from being dubbed anti-science, anti-trans, anti-fat, and racistwhich seemed especially odd since she was raising two black sons. 

The smear campaign was relentless and eventually the Levi’s HR department, and even the legal team, began to tell her that she represented the company and should tone down her activism. 

She stood up for herself but was very ominously told to “think about what you are saying.”

At one point, Levi’s Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion insisted that she go on an apology tour to atone for her comments. A superior even told her that she was on track to become CEO, but that wouldn’t happen if she continued to stand up for what she believed in. 

Sey was shocked. 

Levi’s is hardly the only company to capitulate to the cult of wokeness. Google, Facebook, and others have been accused of engaging in similar tactics. But there was something especially worrisome to Sey about her company’s behavior. 

As a 17-year-old gymnast competing in Russia, she witnessed firsthand how crucial a role Levi’s blue jeans played in combating communism and empowering free expression during the Cold War. 

For young people living in the USSR, Levi’s were a symbol of rugged, western individualism and the freedom to express yourself however you pleased, just as teens in America did. 

Trapped in a regime which viewed both individualism and freedom of expression as a threat to the greater good, the younger generations  of Eastern Europe loved their blue jeans. And they were willing to break the law to get a pair. And the market provided. After the government made it illegal to purchase blue jeans behind the Iron Curtain, a robust black market arose. 

Students donning blue jeans were sent home and kept out of public dance halls. But they wore them anyway. The mere act of owning a pair of Levi’s became an act of protest against a dictatorship trying to stamp out all traces of individuality.

In 1965, the Wall Street Journal told the story of a young girl who fled East Germany when her father told her she could not wear blue jeans. As soon as she arrived in the west and received pocket money from the refugee center, she went out right away to buy her very own pair of jeans. That’s how important Levi’s were to those living under communism. 

When Sey had gone there as a young gymnast, she brought ten pairs with her to give to Russian girls. 

As she recalls:

The red tag on the back pocket of the jeans I handed over to the Russian girls used to be shorthand for what was good and right about this country, and when I think about my trip to Moscow, so many decades ago, I still get a little choked up.

Levi’s had become a weapon against a communist governments that sought to squash individuality however they could. But Sey doesn’t think that is what the company represents today.

She writes:

But the corporation doesn’t believe in that now. It’s trapped trying to please the mob — and silencing any dissent within the organization. In this it is like so many other American companies: held hostage by intolerant ideologues who do not believe in genuine inclusion or diversity.

The communist government in the USSR believed itself to be the solution to ending the eternal struggle between oppressors and the oppressed. 

Woke culture is based on a similar premise. 

The woke see themselves as the “oppressed” and anyone who disagrees plays the role of the “oppressor,” the latter of whom must be canceled and silenced for the good of society. 

Where Levi once boasted of the role it played in fighting back against this ideology, it has now found itself on the opposite side of the battle—a devastating reality Sey had to accept. 

She was eventually told that it was time for her to leave the company and was offered a $1 million severance package if she promised to sign a gag order. 

She refused—some things are more important than money. 

As she explained: 

“I’ll always wear my old 501s. But today I’m trading in my job at Levi’s. In return, I get to keep my voice.”

Eventually, the Berlin Wall fell and with it, the Cold War. German youth dressed up blue jeans came to celebrate the end of their oppression. 

What is so tragic about this story is that it’s front and center on the Levi Strauss website The company boasting about their pivotal role in the end of the Cold War and elevating voices in the USSR is now trying to silence those who say anything contrary to the woke narrative.