From UPTOWN–Skyrocketing debt and plummeting savings. Real Louis Vuitton tattoos to match fake Christian Louboutin pumps. Children named Chardonnay and A’Lexus. These are all interconnected symptoms of a pandemic which is ravaging our communities faster than diabetes and high blood pressure. I’m talking about the lethal virus of living beyond our means.
While there is nothing wrong with trying to reach higher ground and strive for more personal success, the problem I see now is a debilitating cultural shift in our priorities and in the way we value ourselves. Somehow along the road to the land of milk and honey, we took a detour and wound up in the land of bread and C.R.E.A.M. To the outside world we proclaim to have made it. But let’s face it people, most of us are just plain frontin’… and it is killing us.
Of course this phenomenon is nothing new. Ever since the advent of a more affluent group, there have been others trying to keep up with them legitimately or by perception. Whether it is Moët or moscato, big pimpin’ or bling, Jean Paul Gaultier or Gordon Gartrell — folks have been trying to reach for a lifestyle that supposedly defines success and simultaneously defies their personal financial reality. In his famous autobiography, Up from Slavery, scholar Booker T. Washington documents a concerning trend in black neighborhoods of post-civil war Washington, DC:
…I found that while among them there was a large element of substantial, worthy citizens, there was also a superficiality about the life of a large class that greatly alarmed me. I saw young coloured men who were not earning more than four dollars a week spend two dollars or more for a buggy on Sunday to ride up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, in order that they might try to convince the world that they were worth thousands.
(Continue reading at UPTOWN…)