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Air Ignorance: Negroes, Please.

Air Ignorance: The mass hysteria or obsession that breaks out among broke or middle-class black folks whenever Nike releases a new pair of Michael Jordan athletic shoes.

I don't get it. I don't get the mass hysteria and obsession that breaks out among black folks, especially broke or middle-class black folks, whenever Nike releases a new pair of Michael Jordan athletic shoes, or re-releases said shoes, for that matter. (Here's a tip: If you had to catch a bus or walk to the mall to buy a pair of Air Jordans, you're broke. Save your money and buy a car instead.) I watched news footage from Houston on YouTube about a breakout of Air Ignorance at a mall featuring my people discussing the long wait in the cold to purchase the re-released Air Jordans, with one brother even kissing his newly purchased shoes. Supposedly a purchaser was robbed of his or her new Air Jordans at a bus stop.

Am I the only black person in America who is tired of being represented in the media by other black folks who are more invested in faux status symbols than in common sense? Why does the media look for the lowest common denominator of black folks to showcase to the rest of the world? I guess anything that rebuts the stereotypes about black folks just isn't newsworthy.

I have to admit, I once fell for the Nike hype. My young nephew wanted a pair of Air Jordans in the 90's that cost about $110.00 at the time. I was taken aback that he would even ask for such a thing for Christmas. I told him that I had never paid $110.00 for a pair of shoes for myself, much less for a child. He shot back that I didn't need $110.00 shoes because, unlike him, I didn't play sports. I then told him that it was because my $45.00 Nine West shoes took me to my high-paying gig that I was able to afford $110.00 Nikes and asked him how much money he was going to be able to make with a $110.00 pair of Nikes. He had no answer. I actually bought the shoes for him, but I told him, "These shoes are your Christmas and your birthday presents. I don't want to hear from you about presents until next Christmas." It was about that time that I stopped buying Christmas gifts for him altogether because he didn't see anything abnormal about being a child wanting a $110.00 pair of shoes. I figured his parents should finance his increasingly expensive tastes. Perhaps this wasn't the best way of dealing with it, but I just didn't want to continue to feed whatever it was I was seeing. Looking back, this was an enormous teaching opportunity that I missed. But I never bought a $110.00 pair of shoes for a child ever again. And I wouldn't now, not even if I had children.

I would hope that black folks would find better things to spend money on in a recession than $180 Nikes, especially if we're taking the bus to buy them. I would hope that we would get past the consumerism and the faux status symbols and build some real wealth. I would hope we would invest in educating ourselves instead of continuing to build Michael Jordan's empire. I would hope we would line up around the block in the cold to register to vote. But broke black folks riding the bus to buy Air Jordans? Negroes, please.


Anonymous said…
Kirk said…

I have to agree, it is pretty ridiculous to pay $199 for tennis shoes. I think that it is ridiculous to pay over 20 bucks for a pair of shoes of any type though. I buy my tennis shoes at Costco, 'cause I can get a pair for about 15 bucks that aren't too bad.

Here's what I want to know though: I was a really big fan of Michael Jordan when he was with the Bulls. How could you not be? He was a remarkable talent. Living in Seattle, I remember taking quite a few insults from local Sonics fans (before the team moved and changed their names) because I was rooting for the Bulls during the Championship. But even though I am a fan of Jordan, where is he on this issue? He's surely making a lot of money (hey, I'm surely not against capitalism) but shouldn't he be willing to make less money so that people can buy "his" shoes?

Just a thought, as I get ready to climb on the treadmill with my Costco specials. . . .

San Francisco

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