Not every kid is like me, though. Not everyone subconsciously takes their family's financial state into account when choosing their personal style. Most kids feel a lot of pressure to wear the nicest, newest clothes, and they don't necessarily have grunge to fall back on. Who are the biggest role models to inner city kids? Most likely, they are the rappers and basketball players. Rappers who display proudly their life of luxury and "bling" and basketball players with their $50 jerseys and $150 sneakers. As if living in poverty is not difficult enough on kids, they have the added pressure of feeling inadequate unless they dress infinitely beyond their family's means.
Part of what's infuriating about this whole idea is that a lot of the rappers and basketball players who are lending their names to these expensive products came from poverty themselves. They should remember what it's like to be a poor kid looking up to rich celebrities, and they should know the unfair pressure they are putting on the youth that admire them by agreeing to do a television commercial for $150 sneakers.
This is why Stephon Marbury is my newest hero. If you're like me, and don't follow basketball, he is a basketball player with the NY Knicks, and has the fifth-highest salary in the league. But he grew up in a low income, Coney Island household, and he remembers what it's like to drool over the expensive basketball sneakers that his heroes were wearing. Now that he is on the other side of the drool, he decided to do something about the inequity. He's making a $15 basketball shoe.
Leading athletic gear design firm Rocketfish, perhaps best known for providing high performance basketball sneaker concepts to Nike, Reebok and Converse, worked closely with Marbury to create the Starbury One and ensure it delivers all the comfort and stability required for professional basketball players and recreational ballers alike.
So not only is he making an affordable basketball shoe, but it's going to be a good quality affordable basketball shoe. And not only is he going to sell it to the kids that look up to him, but he's going to wear it himself on the basketball court.
I can't help but wonder, though, if the kids might be turned off by the low price tag. All of their other heroes are still preaching the gospel of money, so they might refuse to believe that this is a desirable product, simply based on the price. But maybe Marbury has created something bigger than just a new basketball shoe. Maybe tomorrow, we will start to see affordable bling! Okay, okay, but a girl can dream, right?
(Hat tip to the Good News Network, which is one of my new favourite news sources, since it only ever has, well, good news.)