Monday, January 15, 2007

It's so good to be....


A Sneakerhead, right? Well, I don't necessarily agree with that statement. With the onslaught of sneaker stories in newspapers and on the various websites, not one of them gets 'it'. The 'it' is something that, similar to persons that thought that Rap and ultimately Hip Hop was a fad, runs deeper than what can be summed up in 400 words or less. The many writers that I've spoken to and shared 'my story' very few have been able to understand the passion and 'why' it is that sneakers are so important to so many people.

Let me give you some historical background to set the table for my argument. Sneakers got their big break by the likes of James Dean who was a rebel by wearing Dungarees (jeans) and Jack Purcell sneakers or Tretorns.

As the time changed, so did people's perception of what it meant to be 'cool' and thus the birth of more comfortable clothing and footwear. Men and women started wearing more 'casual' clothing to do things such as going to parties, entertaining guests at home or running errands.

People started attending more sporting events for entertainment and when a team such as the Harlem Renaissance, which was formed in 1923 by Bob Douglas, won the World Professional Basketball championship in 1939, wearing black high-top canvas Chuck Taylors, people started paying more attention to 'sneakers'. You see, it was Europeans that popularized 'tennis shoes' but it has been Blacks that adopted them and have made them cool.

In a very awkward twist, Blacks were not allowed to play tennis because Whites thought that there was no way a Black person could understand the rules of the game nor pose a good opponent. It blew some White press's minds when Althea Gibson, who won Grand Slam tournaments such as Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Doubles, responded that, "Yes" she took a bath every day. Gibson at one point was even forced to take a test to see if she had an extra chromosome. Althea not only paved the way for Arthur Ashe but many other athletes such as Tiger Woods.

A resounding issue that I have with the 'community' is that very few realize that companies such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, New Balance and Converse take what we, collectively, say is cool and hip and create products with that in mind and sell it right back to the 'community'. What it then becomes is a game of power and companies such as Nike and Adidas know this and market with this in mind. It's the Ultimate Hustle or as my man TI likes to say, "It's the Grand Hustle."

So, on this day that we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday, let's remember that racism and the many 'isms' still exist and it takes more than one voice to eliminate it. We all have to continue to fight for those people that don't have a voice and can't fight for themselves. If you lay down then you stay down and you’re dead.

Recent sneakerhead articles:
Associated Press
Chicago Tribune
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