Ok before I talk about the Jordan’s let me just say that ads, advertisements and the idea that a product brings you value, status, or worth is still very prevalent. I mean, you can hear it in the rhymes of young people. When they (male rappers) brag about what it is or what makes them cool its often one or all of three things ; money, objects, and women (as if women were an object too, no?). Violent attitude too, but thats for another discussion.
The reason I bring this up is because my son came to me the other day talking about “what are those” . Parents if you’re not up on the lingo, Vine videos are viral comedy skits, dance, or phrases that kids envelop into their daily vernacular or speech. “What are those” refers to shoes mostly. Its an old thing, transformed to a new generation. Basically are your shoes a part of the normal or fashionable cannon of shoes( Don't be an outcast)? Or are they very expensive and highly sought after? NOT, are they unique (Be a Sheep!)? NOT are they made by you or someone in your extended family? And that folks, frustrates me.
I get Capitalism, I get Consumerism, I understand Imperialism, and all of that. But, I was surprised when my son basically said they make jokes on each other about each others shoes. Like, damn! That’s what I was doing at his age, lol. I should not be surprised, I should not have been caught off guard. But I was. Imagine them saying my shoes cost more than your whole outfit argument.
I sat my son down and reiterated the idea of “propaganda”. Whenever we have watched television together, I have muttered or shouted the word propaganda when a commercial comes on. Why? I wanted him to associate the word with commercials. I want him to question what they are selling him. I want him to think!! I do not want him to be a blind consumer, a cow being lead to the slaughter, or a child who feels his worth is tied into his sneakers. But damn, there it is again, generation after generation we (boys, girls, transgender kids) are sold the idea that we are less than. We are told we are poor. We are told that if we want to achieve status in this society, we must purchase. Could be a Lamborgini, a chain of diamonds and gold, the most expensive I-phone whatever (Coltan-Congo), or a pair of Michael Jordan shoes.
I’m pissed that kids still cap, diss, bag, or talk shit to each other this way, so I also told my son that his worth does not come from his shoes, it comes from inside. His morals, his actions, how he treats himself and others. I also told him that whether a person’s parent paid $150 for a pair of shoes or $20 they did the best they could and that they aren’t any less important in this world. He of course said “Daddy, were just joking!” But on the real, that is how doubt, self worth, and depression cured by American Dream gets started in an 11 year old. I should know, I thought the same about guess jeans, owning records, toys, cars, guns, etc.
Now back to the Jordan’s. He tells me, “Daddy, I think I know what I want for Christmas” . Christmas, as in “buy 3rd world manufactured shit that the corporations turn a 300% profit on” day. So I said in Spanish, “Ok, pues dime. Que quieres mijo?” And he says Jordan’s!! I had to smile because I started wanted certain types of shoes at 9 years old. My dilemma is that those shoes were designed by talented people such as Tinker Hatfield and damn they are fly. But you know I had to break down the numbers for him by telling him that those shoes cost $6 or $7 to make, and they sell them for $100-$200 depending on which number you get. I was proud in a sense though, because as twisted as it sounds it is part of Black Culture (being sold over priced shoes) , and scared at the same time. Think of Buggin Out and Police Brutality in “Do the RightThing”.
So, I said NO! He said “ I thought you might say that”. He knows his dad. Then , he went on to ell me he wanted Run DMC shoes, to which his mom asked “do you know what he’s talking about?”. I explained of course. But all my old school hip hop fans know right? What do you think? Shell toes cost $60-70 now (also a rip off). But what would you say to your child? What would you allow or not allow? In terms of fighting the good fight, revolutionary change, how does that fit in? Leave a comment. Did you ever have a parent or political activist break down shoes and how much they charge? Who? When?