The commodification of the Self has always been a struggle for Black people to alleviate as a mental disease. We are a people that were sold for prices. We were a commodity. And now, without me venturing another lame and incorrect comparison to slavery and basketball, we murder, rob, and riot over shoes that represent the commodification of a Black man. Jordans, the popular Nike brand of shoes celebrated and sponspored by NBA legend, Michael Jordan, have long been a staple in the urban communities list of prized possessions. Like rims on a car, the classic shoes have allowed for status, as well as roses and wreaths.
As the economy this quarter only sees a .1% increase in consumer spending, and only a slight drop in unemployment applications being filed this quarter, Black men have found a way to afford the overpriced shoes, as well as the time to stand in line to purchase them. Fuck collectors. Now that that is out of the way, I don’t want to offend the collectors, but how much value do we place on a pair of contrite designs forged of Tinker Hatfield’s imagination?
The question I ask my Self is,”how much have I contributed to this culture?” When I think of reasons to rob a person, I typically don’t think of Jordan’s, my Self, although I have been robbed for a pair of shoes before. For me, I tend to look at possessions that don’t mark down, and I go beyond urban status symbols that I couldn’t get back two-thirds of the price for once worn on someone’s feet(okay, sure, sure, depending on where or when I sell them, but most robbers don’t attend shoe conventions to peddle their wares). Just not a worthwhile investment given the cost to benefit factors, weighing the risks of prison, and the possibility of something going wrong during the robbery. It just doesn’t seem to be a wise choice. But, my need for ego stroking based on extremely perishable clothing apparel is slim to none. I’m more interested in robbing Nike than robbing someone for theirs.
As I think about the aforementioned, I am uneasily ashamed at just how susceptible to commodified value my male counterparts in the Afkan(Afrikan-Amerikkkan) community are. Where many examples of the vanity of women can be shown, I’ve yet to hear of the level of aggression shown over Jordan’s be shown in women over, say, a Tory Burch clutch or handbag(have you seen the prices on those things?). As much as the geeks I went to college with whined when their friends came into class with Apple products, and the penchant for white boys to shoot up a campus, never have I witnessed a Caucasian male kill or rob someone over a possession that has much more status, and utility I might add, than J’s. While men of the Afkan urban class address emotions such as envy as “bitch made,” it is typically males that exude aggression over products that they don’t them Selves evaluate in marketing meetings, design, or develop(hell, they don’t even ask niggas in prison to glue, I mean sew them together). As a survivor of the St. Louis area, a city with a culture of robbing, I notice that many of the brothers now sitting in jail for robbery are not robbing businesses, but other brothers that have accumulated these sorts of trinkets. A common phrase that I hear from brothers when seeing other brothers with desired possessions is,”man, what that ol’ bitch ass nigga doing with them on?”
Earlier today I saw in my mentions on Twitter,”Jordan’s aren’t just shoes.” No, as a person that walks around with an eye for removing possessions from others for a possible quick financial boost, Jordan’s are exactly that, just shoes. They aren’t going to make you fly, and as fly as one might think they are while scuffing them up in the club, the resultant effect on the community from harming someone over a pair isn’t worth the few hours of attention from some group of idiots that can’t spell well enough to send you a money order in that prison cell.