“Hopped off the slave ship. Popped off my chain. I took it to Jacob and got it gold plated, walked in that B***h like Ni**a “We Made It”- Jay Z ‘We Made It”
As I recited that verse to myself over and over I tried to picture what Jay- Z was saying in a literal way. Imagine a newly freed slave escaping his chains, and instead of living and enjoying his newfound freedom, he walks into a jeweler and says, “Hey dip these in gold for me.” After receiving his dipped gold chain, he goes back to his old cotton fields wearing these new gold chains and is proud of what he has because now he is the perceived top slave – but a slave nonetheless. How crazy is that? Unfortunately, we are still fighting to be the top slave today, with our plantation masters being replaced by something subtler: Materialism.
We live in a society that teaches us the ideology that we must have the latest electronics, designer clothes, fly cars, and the best of all life has to offer because “You Only Live Once”, YOLO! . However, this same materialistic way of thinking has deceived us into believing that we will be happier we have actually become enslaved to our own wants and desires.
Materialism destroys the black family.
Because we must have the latest pair of Christian Louboutin red bottoms or those new Gucci Flip flops, we have to work more days and more hours to sustain that lifestyle, meaning less time in the home with our families. The family dynamic shifts to the weekend because mothers and fathers are not there to spend invaluable quality time. We give our children the latest video game console, or newest iPhone on the market and never show them value in working hard for things we want. We raise a generation of children who will feel entitled.
Materialism promotes greed and a loss of self worth.
“I’m like the fly Malcolm X: Buy any jeans necessary”- Kanye West “ Good Morning”
Kanye west’s pun on Malcolm X’s famous “By any means necessary “ quote pointed out another the flaw in a materialistic society. Materialism teaches us that we need status symbols. You are not a real baller unless you have that new Cadillac Escalade sitting on 24’s, or you are broke unless you are wearing the latest Tory Burch clutch bag. Materialism promotes an insatiable appetite of wanting more things that we will subjugate ourselves to demoralizing and detrimental practices to sustain a certain lifestyle. In the black urban community, drug sales, prostitution and sex trafficking, and armed robbery are common occurrences instituted for the sake of having more money to buy more goods. We have become a society that will sell our soul, forsake our morals, and destroy our communities just so we can buy any jeans necessary.
Materialism destroys creating sustainable wealth.
Out of my own curiosity I checked the Nike’s stock price last month and it was 123.07 for one share of stock. I immediately felt ashamed and to be honest, stupid because I don’t own any shares. I currently own 15 pairs of Nike gym shoes including Air Max 95s, Lebron 12s, and the highly coveted Air Jordans. Every pair of shoe I own cost more than one share of Nike when I bought them and yet, after I wear a pair the first time, the value immediately decreases. What good is it for me to own shoes that will only give me a negative return on my investment, instead of owning stock in a strong stable company that will more than likely give me a positive return? Materialism has taught us to own the shoes instead of owning the shoe store. Black Americans spend over a trillion dollars annually, yet we own the least amount of appreciating assets in the country. We don’t own any of the businesses in our community. If we want Black hair care products we must buy from Koreans. If we want to buy liquor we must buy from Arabs. If we want groceries we must buy from White Americans. We don’t have family businesses thus we can’t pass along generational wealth, leaving the next generation to follow along in the same footsteps.
Materialism has covertly crept into our community and keeps us entrapped in a vicious cycle of recurring debt and chronic consumerism. The holiday season is a time where we shower our loved ones and ourselves with gifts for the Christmas holiday, causing our spending to increase exponentially. Take this time to re-evaluate your spending habits and decide to make better choices with your money. I am not saying don’t buy gifts for family, but I am saying you don’t have to spend the next quarter of the year working double shifts to pay off credit card statements. Take this time to enjoy your family and celebrate the fact that you all have another holiday to spend with one another. Instead of buying Junior the $185 Air Jordan’s, buy him 185.00 worth of Nike Stock. Make the decision today to support Black retailers and buy from WeBuyBlack.com, helping to build the black community, instead of supporting businesses that do little to nothing for the reality you live in.
LOVE. Peace. Equality