First of all let me say this, I do not have anything against Michael Jordan. I don’t know him personally so everything I know about him is second hand information, at best. The fact that he is a very wealthy businessman who financially benefits from the sale of a shoe that bears his name is not innately problematic or evil. If I were in the same position I’d probably, no, scratch that, I’d definitely do the same thing.
The reason that I don’t own a pair of Jordan’s is very simple: I like having groceries better.
The other day I was walking by a national chain store that specializes in sports shoes (which will remain nameless as I don’t intend to give out any free shout outs) and this guy is standing by the entrance.
“Hey, you wanna check out something,” he asked. I felt weird because it was like he was asking me if I wanted to see something that I shouldn’t be seeing, which made me want to see it even more. I shrugged my shoulders like “sure, what’s you got?” He invites me to come in by telling me the new Jordan’s are in. I wasn’t in a rush, plus the smell of new shoes is like nose crack to me.
So I obliged him and let him guide me thru the drab maze of uninspired foot wear. Nothing was inspired. It all looked the same. But then, all of a sudden, there it was. There was…the Jordan. It was suspended in mid-air behind a sheet of glass that was painted like a backboard. It was like it had wings that gently propelled it above the surface of the planet. Most noticeably absent were any signs of a price tag.
As we approached he told me to take my shoes off because I was about to be standing on holy ground. “Don’t look directly at the shoe,” he said. Amused I responded, “c’mon bro.”
He was dead serious.
So I’m standing there in my socks, staring at the bottom of the shoes (because I couldn’t’ look directly at them). It was impressive. It was stylish, aero-dynamic and, best of all; it had the new shoe smell. He asked me if I wanted to try it on. I didn’t want to corrupt what had unwittingly turned into a religious experience. I had no intention of buying it.
“This shoe chooses you,” he said with the wide eyed look of a mad scientist.
I was starting to remember that I had somewhere else to go, plus my feet were starting to get cold. And this guy was starting to get really weird.
“Nah, that’s okay. How much is it?”
You’d have thought I just spit in his face. Deliberately he began to put the shoe back behind the glass without saying a word to me.
Maybe he didn’t hear me. I asked again. By now he had put his shoes back on and left. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
All over a stupid shoe.
And that’s when it hit me: I will never own a pair of Jordan’s.
Sneekerheads take their shoe wearing fetish to a fanatic level that is completely lost on me. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things, and I like being able to afford them. But the day will never come when I fork over close to $300 for a pair of fancy sneakers that make you want to injure the person who dares to step, get close to or otherwise violate the same air space as the shoes do.
As I walked out of the store and the smell of new shoes gently wafted away from my nose I realized that, had I been younger, there would’ve been no way that I would’ve walked out of that store with those shoes. And that’s just it; the people who benefit most from drunken consumerism rely on the sizzle, not the steak.
And that’s just it. The sizzle doesn’t impress me anymore. As we get older we start to want what is real. This applies to everything, even in our shoes. If I know that it cost less than $20 to produce a shoe that is being sold for the amount of money that a multi-million dollar ad campaign is trying to convince me to spend on it is an exercise in futility. Game recognizes game and it’s simply…too late for games.
Midterm elections are typically viewed as a mandate for or against the party that is currently in power. As a result of this year’s fallout the Democratic Party, by losing control of the Senate, has all but given away any semblance of real power on Capitol Hill other than the presidential veto.
Looking beyond the immediate results, from a strategic standpoint, what the Republicans have done is nothing short of brilliant. They have succeeded in convincing a highly polarized and highly ignorant electorate that President Obama is the true enemy of the state. This comes in spite of the fact that under his administration the stock market has traded at record high levels, the deficit has been reduced by $1 trillion, job growth has steadily improved while unemployment (as tricky of a statistic as it is) has decreased. Of course the cornerstone of his administration has been the Affordable Healthcare Act (which is, for all intensive purposes, a recycled Republican idea).
In response to this ideological onslaught the Democrats did…nothing. In fact they tucked tail and ran away, going so far as to distance themselves from the very president who, a little over 10 years ago, carried their blood stained populist banner in an impassioned speech at the Democratic National Conventional. In the end the Democratic Party and its leaders have suffered a major blow that, for the most part, they allowed to happen.
But this has not all been the fault of the Democratic Party. A lot of the blame of President Obama’s fall from grace has been President Obama himself.
Contrary to the popular belief, when black folks elected Barrack Obama to be the 44th President of the United States it wasn’t just because we wanted a president who was black. The black electorate is more sophisticated than that, just ask Alan Keyes and Herman Cain (both of whom are black and both who have unsuccessfully run for president).
The reason that we elected Barrack Obama is because in him we saw someone who seemed to understand our heartbeat. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was raised by a single mother and then grandparents who loved him. He graduated from law school and met a true sister from the Southside of Chicago who had also spent her life defying the odds laid out before her. After graduating he came back to the hood as a community activist. He could play hoops, wasn’t too proud to admit that he listened to rap music and could drop the mic and walk away after giving a speech. We were proud to prop him up as the best of what our community had to offer to the country and to the world.
On many issues he ran on a solidly progressive and left of center platform. He was very honest about the fact that he thought government should play a more expanded role in the lives of its citizens. He promised to give the common man a much needed voice in the often white shoe closed door power meetings held in the nation’s capital. In the end he campaigned that electing him would mean that it wouldn’t be business as usual in Washington D.C.
When he began his first term we knew the job was a tough one. For the most part the black community gave him a collective pass. We said “you didn’t create this mess. We’ll give you time. Handle your business brother, we got your back.” We began to see appointments of highly qualified and skilled black leaders in his administration. He showed up on the talk shows, he and the first lady brought a joie de vie to the White House after some really tough economic and political years. It was refreshing to see his oratorical skills readily on display on almost a weekly basis. We watched him fight an outwardly hostile congress and senate. We had his back, almost to a fault.
When it came time for re-election he could rely on us to stand firmly behind him, even though he had made statements about how he wasn’t just “our president” but he was “America’s president.” Well, we knew that. We deal with the fact that everyone in America doesn’t look like us or have our perspective or deals with the same stuff that we do on a daily basis. We’re not stupid. But, hey, we’ll let that one slide. We still got your back.
When the runaway housing industry came to a screeching halt due to the corrupt and illegal practices of the mortgage industry it was found that Wall Street and the banking industry willfully misled the American people. Millions lost their homes while these same bankers and brokers who stole billions of dollars received what was equivalent to immunity from prosecution by President Obama’s administration. His response was “it’s too big to fail.” Taxpayer bailouts ensued and the banking industry, after fleecing billions, was allowed to continue doing business, only this time much richer.
What happened to the “this won’t be business as usual,” Mr. President?
Last year a larger percentage of young black women chose to have an abortion more than any other ethnic group in the country. And while we understand that protecting a woman’s right to a legal and safe abortion does not mean the same thing as being pro-abortion, President Obama, indeed having learned profound oratory skills from the very community that helped to ignite the flame that propelled him to the White House in the first place seemingly can’t conjure up those same skills when defining those very nuances which might save one more black baby’s life from being extinguished.
The black community has always had a very strained relationship with the issue of homosexuality. This president has seemingly made it one of his top priorities to use his office as a sounding board of support for those members of the community who make the very difficult decision to go public with their sexuality. The same fortitude does not seem to be on display when it comes down to taking the lead on social injustices committed against black males. And while sending the attorney general to Ferguson, MO was a step in the right direction, not showing up himself was disheartening. We won’t even talk about how relatively silent he’s been on the violence in his own city of Chicago.
In his effort to prove to an ever-fearful white America that he is not simply “the black president” in some ways it seems that he has forgotten that he is the President who is black. Going into the latter part of his second term we should hope for a more forceful voice of advocacy for a community of Americans most in need. Our issues are America’s issues. When do we get a little more love?
In the end, for many, the question remains: do we have a Black President or a President who is black? In short we can, and should be, unapologetic in our critique yet diligently guard against being used as the political gun powder of the opposition.
The statement “black lives matter” underscores a theological belief that all life is sacred. Unfortunately the black community, and society as a whole, has been placed squarely in the jaws of a moral vice grip; in the aftermath of Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner decisions how do we articulate righteous indignation from a position of moral authority when so much disrespect towards the sanctity of life comes from within our own camp?
Moral and social relativists have tried to reframe the argument against the black community’s outrage by saying “why don’t you protest when a black person kills a white person” or “what about when a black person kills another black person?” The obvious response is simple. First of all to insinuate that the black community has ever been anarchistic has no basis in reality. Research has long shown that the black community has, by and large, always valued effective and appropriate law enforcement. The recent, senseless murder of a young man trying to protect his twin brother in Chicago has been the topic of discussion in the black media ever since it happened. The boy’s mother has decried the lack of more law enforcement so that no one will have to go through what she’s going thru. Secondly when a black person commits a crime against one of our own the community expects them to be prosecuted fairly and appropriately. In other words the time should fit the crime. Lastly, black people go to jail in higher percentages than nearly any other ethnic group in this country. We don’t have the luxury of not being found guilty by a jury of our peers.
Sadly the bulk of these headline-grabbing events are nothing more than a deceptive smoke screen that is designed to deflect attention from the real battle. That battle is not black versus white nor is it rich versus poor as the media would gleefully have you believe.
The real battle is against the family.
The scourge of violence and death in the black community all originates from the same place: a broken home.
According to recent census data over 60% of black children are raised in a single parent home. More than 80 percent of those custodial parents are mothers. They tend to earn a quarter of what a two-parent household earns even though their expenses are higher due to child care and medical costs. Women historically earn less than men do, which places many of these families headed by a single parent at or below the poverty line. Struggling to survive financially becomes such an ever-present burden that effective child-rearing, a difficult task under the best of circumstances, becomes nearly impossible.
There is immutable evidence that there is a clear connection between poverty and crime. Typically in areas where there is a high concentration of poverty there is also a high concentration of crime. The social assistance programs that sprout up in these communities are not a substitute for a healthy, in intact nuclear family.
A healthy organism begins at the cellular level. Therefore an out of order society comes as a result of an out of order family. In other words if the body is sick you treat it at its most elemental level.
But our western society puts more emphasis on things that continue to make us ill. We are deceived into thinking that our lives are governed by the issue of race, class and gender. In the aftermath of the horrific events in Ferguson, MO and New York the media and most every talking head has served up an intoxicating concoction of injustices done to us by the police. Old stories are being dug up and presented as recent events, one sided and highly inflammatory opinions are being used to present an “us versus-them” mentality. At the end of the day both sides of the aisle are so angry and frustrated with the other that the end result is deeper and more entrenched division.
The deception has worked.
The art of deception is a war tactic that is accomplished when measures are taken to get the opponent to react to the wrong set of circumstances. This is what is happening today. People are being deceived that THE most important part of this whole movement is about police brutality and the lack of justice for black men at the hands of an adversarial legal system. And while these are valid points that need to be addressed, they are not where the heat of battle is taking place.
The war against the family is in full tilt. Everything from an emphasis on hyper-individuality which states that I am who I define myself to be regardless of immutable distinctions that were once defined as being gender related, to a blatant disregard for the scientific evidence that men and women are uniquely distinct from one another have all contributed to the demise of the family. Researchers at the University of California at Irvine have shown the how a woman’s brain and a man’s brain processes the same information differently. Their conclusion was that both sexes are equally intelligent but have unique advantages in different areas. This difference leads to different approaches in socialization. How we view the world, how we raise children, how we interact with those around us begins at this level.
Popular culture does not acknowledge this evidence. In fact it not only discounts it, but it seeks to destroy its very existence. Gross consumerism, runaway individuality and the complete lack of any moral center has become the rule of the day. Media outlets have been successful in branding “family values” as an outdated, dysfunctional, overbearing and freedom- killing relic of the past. This message has ushered us into this current age we live in where division, fear and hatred rule the airwaves.
Ultimately if we are going to fix anything within our own community we have to start at the root. That root is the family. Going to marches, listening to emotionally charged speeches, refusing to spend money at certain outlets, and continuing in the fight for justice and equality won’t mean a thing if we don’t attack the real problem. The deceptive tool of righteous indignation will only take us so far, but the tool of nourishing and recommitting ourselves to a strong nuclear family will insure not only the survival of a people, but of a nation.