June 2 1998
It's so ironic that so many of us walk around and proudly proclaim how much game we got.. Everyone is some sort of playa, hustla, baller, mack daddy and pimp. Oh yes we honor and revere the pimp in our community. He's the suave, debonair, smooth talking brotha who is always in control of his situation. Proof of that is how he manages to get women to work for him and hand over all their money. And this is in spite of the fact that pimps can be very cruel and disrespectful to the women in their lives who they call bitches and hos.
I say all this because I'm watching in great dismay how more and more young people are characterizing themselves as Pimps and Playas. Everybody has got a tight game. Well last Saturday I saw just how tight the game was. Last Saturday I saw just how truly we are about the business of gettin' our "pimpin' on." The 13th version of the Air Jordan basketball shoe came out and a few hundred folks showed up before the Foot Locker around my block opened up. Everyone wanted to plump down damn near 200 bucks for these "limited edition" basketball shoes. The same shoes that kids are getting stuck up, beat up and robbed for. The same shoes that seemed be disprortionally marketed to our black community. There were no long lines in the neighboring suburbs. The same shoe that has taken a status that I don't understand. According to the Oakland Tribune, the new Air Jordans sold out in less the 3 hours! Talk about pimpin'...I gotta give Nike a high five...because they sure managed to pimp the hell out of us.
Let's overlook the fact that Nike managed to get a whole bunch of us to pay 4-5 times as much as it cost to make the sneaker. Let's overlook the fact that you had all these people lined up bright and early on a Saturday morning to get some new Air Jordans.. but the week before we couldn't get hardly any of these folks lined up to cast their ballots at the voting booths. Let's overlook the fact that we had all these parents who showed up with their youngsters to purchase these 200 dollar shoes...yet we can't get the majority of them to show up at any open classrooms, PTA meetings or any other educational type summit.. And we ask why are kids are doing so miserably in school..
I started off by bringing up the whole topic of Pimps and Playas because I wanted to point out how we as a community are allowing ourselves to get pimped. More importantly, just like the Pimp who hangs out on the street corner preying on young vulnerable women who seek love and attention. The same strategy is being used to influence the young and vulnerable within our community. Nike gives our communities niceties in the fact that they hire some of our brightest and best athletes and entertainers to be spokespersons.. In this case Michael Jordan. Damn, Nike must down for us. They hired Michael, KRS-One, Spike Lee etc.. They must really care. Yes they do care.. they care about you spending 200 bucks for a 20 dollar pair of sneakers..
I use Nike to make the larger point of how we as a community continue to empower other folks, while downplaying ourselves and our accomplishments. All of us, myself included are guilty of this to some degree. We don't own the shoe companies...we don't own the fancy car companies, etc. I understand all that.. and because of that...when we purchase items from outlets we don't own.. we are allowing ourselves to get pimped. I believe the whole script can be flipped around. It starts with each of us honoring and admiring folks for some more substantial accomplishments.. Can we have a festival and celebration for all the brothas and sistas who graduated this year...some of them did so in spite of gang violence, in spite of messed up broken down schools and in spite of being called, punk, softy and other disparaging names for getting "their study on."
Can we uplift those folks who day in day out strive to make a difference in the community by volunteering their time, resources and energy in an attempt to be a positive and consistent presence in the lives of our youth. Can we encourage each other to be empowered by doing what they feel works best for them. In other words, will we stop being cruel to one another because we didn't buy the new Air Jordans or the latest piece of expensive designer clothing? The bottom line is often times we buy these items as a way of showing we got money and that we're ballin'. The true ballers are the folks who sold you these overpriced items.. And maybe, just maybe if we didn't try to impress everyone with the things we wear or can afford to wear, perhaps we would be forced to focus and work on some other things...like our intelligence and personalities. Perhaps one Saturday I'll wake up and find a line of folks in our community lined up like they did at Foot Locker to hear a lecture on Black History, or I'll see them waiting patiently to attend a free computer or business class. Or even better, they'll be lined up to get their kid in some weekend educational program.
Let me know what you think...
[home] [chat] [conferencing] [updates] [what it is]
[politics] [contests] [opinion] [links/photos] [media]