Shoes don't make the man...

I wrote a post called I Can’t Date Women With Name Brand Purses but I didn’t expect it to receive the attention it did. I won’t rehash that discussion today. Instead, I want to focus on the fact that a number of women said the same could be said for men who buy name brand shoes. These women are correct and I thank them for inspiring today’s post.

Of course, all we’ve established is that men and women waste money on name brand crap. This doesn’t tell us much. Most commenters focused on the cost of the items, not on the fact that they so passionately desire these items in the first place. This is the real issue.

Today our country is $15 trillion in debt, the unemployment rate of African American men is15 percent, 21 percent of homes headed by college graduates lack economic security and the Nets could go 0 for 82 and [African Americans] look around like this sh*t gravy.

Not really…

The common argument for buying name brands is their alleged superior quality. While true in some cases, it’s usually a convenient excuse for wasting money. Let’s be honest with ourselves.  Black People predominately buy name brands because they are marketed to us. For example, I can assure you that a white cotton shirt and a white cotton shirt with a Nike Swoosh is the same quality but the shirt with the Swoosh cost more money for no other reason than Nike knows you will pay for it.

Cristal, for example, tastes the exact same way it did before its maker made a perceived racist comment and now black people Jay-Z refuses to drink it. Why? The brand was never superior in quality. Jay-Z and others wasted their money purchased this item for the notoriety associated with the brand not because Cristal was by any means superior to other similarly priced liquors.

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In a more relative example, I witnessed a number of black people mocking one another for buying Versace’s line of clothing for H&M. #TheBlacks spent hours making fun of or justifying their Versace purchases to one another. It was ridiculous.

I don’t have anything against brand names or the companies who market them to us. However, I think people should be honest about the motivation behind their purchases and the way they spend their money. Judging by these conversations, people spend untold sums of money on brand name items, not for the quality, but for a sense of associated personal status. Put simply, people’s sense of value is relative to the amount of expensively branded items they own including but not limited to cars, shoes, purses and clothing. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal if any of these items appreciated in value. They do not.

Arguably even purchases as large as home buying has become a gimmick. Disillusioned people brag about home ownership when they don’t own their home. The bank owns your home. You live in it and pay mortgage. Historically, homes appreciated in value. What’s more important is that people could pay off their homes within their lifetime because they could look forward to consistent employment. Exasperated by The Great Recession, we now live in a country where the average employee will hold 11 jobs during their lifetime. Assuming, of course, they can find a job. The largest banks in America planned lay-offs of 75,000 employees in November so they can avoid paying holiday bonuses. The multimillion-dollar CEO? Don’t worry, he/she remains employed…

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Our shortsighted, instant gratification view of the world would be impressive if it wasn’t so disappointing. Sure, you can make it precipitate. You know, make it rain, make it thunderstorm. But why? Why throw it on the floor when people are poor?

Whether you realize it or not, “the people” is you. Just because you’re in the bottom-rung of the top 1% does not make you exempt. Unless you want to ignore the 20 to 1 wealth divide that shows even middle-class blacks possess only 15 cents for every dollar of wealth held by middle-class whites. No offense, adorning yourself in modern day trinkets does not wealth make but ignorance it does exude.

I’m not judging how you choose to spend your money. It’s your money. I didn’t help you make it. However, I am asking that instead of focusing on the “hook up” or how much you can save on buying your name brand item of choice you take a moment to ask yourself why are you so obsessed with being branded in the first place? Perhaps you are confusing wants for needs. If not, what is it about those Jordans, Red Bottoms, luxury cars, shiny rims, gated communities or other arbitrary items of perceived social status that make you feel like you must own them in order to feel wealthy – even when you are not? If you can’t think of an answer, then maybe there is a better place to invest your money; like in yourself, your family or your future to name a few. Then again, we can always continue to make others wealthy while we remain undeniably poor, because that option has clearly worked in our favor…

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Does how much money someone makes or someone spends dictate how you date? Have you ever had to stop dating someone you genuinely liked because of their income or spending habits? Is looking wealthy as important as being wealthy? Are you more or less attracted to someone who prefers name brands: clothing, shoes, cars, etc? Has your family left you anything of significant value from a prior generation? Do you have any plans to leave money/assets for your children?

Admin Notes:

1) See the man behind WisdomIsMisery: My most recent video blog is available on YouTube, Heartbreak and Lucky Charms.

2) Hear the man behind WisdomIsMisery: With the help of @Up4Dsn, I participated in my first podcast, I Want You! Not Your Kids.

3) Read insight from WisdomIsMisery: I’m featured on this week addressing Why He’s Not Texting You Back.

Last but not least, don’t forget to mark your calendar for SBM’s Holiday Happy Hour at the Empire Room in the Empire State Building on Friday, December 23.