I remember when my mother bought me my first pair of Chuck Taylor’s. I was thrilled to have a shoe with a man’s name written on it. I remember when I purchased my first pair of jeans. They were Levi’s. I remember when I had to have a Member’s Only jacket. I remember when I first saw that small alligator on a bright red shirt. I remember telling one of my boys, “Man, these are Calvin Klein jeans. They cost $50.”
Jeans, shirts, jackets, and shoes. My outfit was always “complete”. All name brands. We were not calling the items designer then. All I knew was that I wanted some white man’s name on my clothing. When I think about this, I am so surprised that I was so asinine. Even shopping at
K-mart and Zayres was a no-no for me when I began working to make my own loot. Unlike the average millennium generation teenager, I started working at 13. I made full use of my worker’s permit.
Trying to keep up with the latest clothing trends is a lost cause for me. I just can’t keep up! I typically have stupid questions for my nephew such as, what jeans are cool to wear, who is the top designer out there, and whose shoe is the coolest to wear? These are my questions, and the response I receive from my nephew is, “Uncle Brian, you need to get down with da fashion.” However, this is the same kid who begs me to help him purchase a pair of shoes at the beginning of each school year. I hate to get this request because I know I will have to dish out at least $100 so he can sport Carmelo’s, Lebron’s, or Jordan’s shoe. One hundred dollars for a shoe that he never laces-up. They are always untied with a big shock behind the shoe tongue. Ridiculous!
This year would have been different for me if I would have known Stephon Marbury released his signature shoe. I was so disappointed that I was unable to share with my nephew that I would purchase his shoes only if he allowed me to select the shoe. You see, Mr. Marbury is the first professional basketball player in years to endorse a shoe that cost less than $15. Yes, FIFTHTEEN GEORGE WASHINGTON’S. He is also saying the only difference in his shoe is the name. He stands behind his most recent statement (while being interviewed by an ESPN reporter): “How many times are you going to ask me the same question? I told you my shoe is of the same quality as all those other shoes.” Hearing this was a shock to me considering Jordan’s, Lebron’s, and Carmelo’s shoes are well over $100.
Of course my first inclination was to call my nephew and offer to buy him a pair. Boy, was I smacked in the face with his response: “Uncle Brian, ain’t nobody going to wear that cheap shoe!” The comment definitely upset me, but I was able to explain a few things to my nephew after I unleashed a tongue lashing on him. As I moved on to address another matter with my nephew, something hit me. I was reminded of myself when I was his age. I was young, greedy, and extremely ostentatious. Like me then, my nephew is only displaying behavior that has been encouraged and accepted in the black community for years.
Yes, we are foolishly infatuated with a name. So much so, we will spend our last dollar on the most expensive clothing item. I have said it before, no one is exploiting us. We do a darn good job of that ourselves. Just go to the mall the day of a NBA player’s shoe release. Finish Line is jam packed with black people (parents and teenagers) waiting to fork over their utility bill money.
It is too bad Stephon's efforts will not be successful in the black community. I wish he had the foresight to understand this. Evidently, he did not evaluate the past spending and purchasing history of black America. All he had to do was drive through the Bronx and Harlem. The bling-bling is everywhere. High dollar shoes, grills, spinners, and anything else that attracts the attention we need to feel worthy.
We are slaves and whores to the Polo and Hilfiger brands and viewed as fools by Ralph and Tommy.
Guess whose name is written across the shirt I was wearing as I typed this commentary?:
Calvin Klein! Hey, I did include myself by using “we”.
If you are interested in supporting Stephon Marbury please visit this website:
Written by Muata. Inspired by JJ Steele.