I bought these shoes called Adidas Tubular Defiant in the color pink and I want to tell you about the experience I had. These shoes are cute as hell (check the VSCO pic, yes I own and proactively use that application). But let me tell you, buying these shoes was another reinforcement of the racial lens that the world lives in.
I walk into Browns Shoes, this bourgeoise shoe store that started off in Montreal. All the sales associates are dressed in professional clothing from head to toe. The store has high end shoes and bags, as well as some athletic shoes that I can afford. Anyways, I walk in and, I kid you not, none of the sales associates would make eye contact with me. None. I had the money in my pocket, and they could have made a brilliant commission because I was definitely going to purchase these shoes. I was the only brown person in the store. I made sure to look around because when you're a brown person who experiences micro aggressions, you sometimes question whether you're acting irrationally. Yes, we have been bred to question our intuition about human interactions and have a defense ready.
A man finally decided to address me when I started cursing out loud and saying "why the -- isn't anyone helping me?" When I told him I want the shoes, he cut me off, told me they only have 5 1/2s and walked away. Do you know how awful racial surveillance, inhumanity and a dismissal of my money is? MONEY can't even give me access to the treatment that white people get. Capitalism tells us that money will give us access to happiness and humanization, but that completely excludes the racial dynamic of society.
I ended up going to Little Burgundy and again, no one came to me. I picked the women in the group of sales associates and told her I wanted the shoes. Here's the kick, my friend was with me and wanted the same thing. Whoever sold us these shoes was going to get double the commission with essentially zero work. And here all these sales associates were, refusing to even look me in the eye. It's a terrible feeling, to know that no matter the amount of education I receive, the amount of money I make, or the contributions I make to society, I will never, EVER, be treated like a white person in a store. Even Oprah was refused service in a store because of her race.
I also noticed that upon purchasing these shoes, I had this obsession with keeping them clean. I have this preoccupation with almost all my brand name shoes where the Adidas stripes or the Nike check mark is visible. Why am I so concerned with preserving the original aesthetic of the shoe? My white friends and wealthy brown friends tend to use shoes, trek in mud, lurk in snowstorms, get in bed with them (I don't know white people are weird), etc. They also are far less concerned in investing in the visibility of the brand. I noticed at the Coach outlet store that I lived nearby that women would flock into the store to purchase Coach goods riddled with the repetitive C print . It was hyper-visiblity. They wanted the bag in part because they thought it was a luxury good and cute, but more so, to display their access to wealth. One time I saw a brown man walk into a club with a WHOLE Louis Vuitton duffel bag. Like, where are you going? Do people of color and low-income folks pay for the good leather or the visibility of the brand so that we can be treated better? It may be a combination of both, but the next time I see one of my white schoolmates in busted Nike Air Force 1s, it will reinforce that they don't have to try to purchase their humanity.