NewBlackMan (in Exile): Ballin’ at the Graveyard: A Film Review

Ballin’ at the Graveyard: A Film Review

by David J. Leonard | special to NewBlackMan (in Exile)

Growing up in Los Angeles, I spent many weekends, some evenings, and most of my summers on the basketball court. Whether on the courts at my high school, at any number of local parks, or other spots spread out around West Los Angeles, pickup basketball was a fixture of my teenage years. I love to play ball; while a mediocre player on my best days the chance to run with my boys or prove myself to others was something I relished growing up.

Through college and graduate school, I continued to play whenever I made it back to Los Angeles; visits home came with an expectation of multiple days of ballin’. Although kids and AGE, not to mention geography (not a lot of pick-up games in Pullman) has resulted in my retirement from the game, the cultural, social, and personal significance of this space remains strong in my mind. Based on both nostalgia for the Saturdays spent on the court, calling “next,” and even the arguments about a travelling calls, and my intellectual curiosity about the subculture of the “pickup game,” I was very excited to watch Ballin’ at the Graveyard, a new film from Basil Anastassiou and Paul Kentoffio.

Chronicling the weekend battles at Albany, New York’s Washington Park – the Graveyard – the film is much more than a basketball film. It is a glimpse into the sociology – the rules, the community – of the subculture of pickup basketball.

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan (in Exile): Ballin’ at the Graveyard: A Film Review.

NewBlackMan in Exile: Freeloading Muppets: Mitt, the Conservative Right and its Assault on Sesame Street

Freeloading Muppets:

Mitt, the Conservative Right and its assault on Sesame Street

by David J. Leonard

| NewBlackMan in Exile

During last night’s presidential debate, which was lackluster to say the least, Mitt Romney finally unveiled some specifics as it relates to his slash the deficit, taxes, and spending economic plan – the “no reason to hope, the future will be grim” plan. He announced his desire to defund PBS, which according to Neil deGrasse Tyson, accounts for .012% of the federal budget. His war on Muppets prompted a deluge of social media posts ranging from images of an unemployed Big Bird to an angry Elmo seeking revenge.

While reflecting people’s anger and anxiety about the nature of the political process, his oft-handed remark is revealing. At one level, it demonstrates the Republican Party’s opposition to public support for institutions and organizations that advance a social good. It represents their contempt for the social contract. At another level, it embodies an ideological movement that promotes divestment from public education, health care, and countless other social programs. The recasting of Cookie Monster, Grover, and Snuffy as freeloading welfare recipients constitutes a continuation of the GOP’s structural adjustment program that started some thirty years ago. Whether or not Mitt Romney like’s Big Bird, or public teachers, firefighters, or health care workers is irrelevant.

The gutting of public higher education throughout the nation, the destruction of America’s parks and recreation facilities, and now the proposed foreclosure on Sesame Street is part of a larger movement to divested from public support and institutions, that which is utilized by the middle-class, working-class and America’s poor. It is yet another example of the true essence of the GOP AKA POP – Privatization Old Party.

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan in Exile: Freeloading Muppets: Mitt, the Conservative Right and its Assault on Sesame Street.

Shoes, Diplomas, and the American Dream – The Conversation – The Chronicle of Higher Education

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images for Nike, via ABC News)

Shoes, Diplomas, and the American Dream

September 7, 2012, 12:26 pm

By David J. Leonard

The media is abuzz with reports of Nike’s fall release of the LeBron X. Not surprisingly, the widespread commentary doesn’t focus on production conditions or even the technological components of the shoe, but instead on the cost of the shoes. According to The Wall Street Journal, the LeBron X would retail for a whopping $315 dollars; subsequent reports noted that Nike would market the model with all the hi-tech bells and whistles for only $290, with a basic model costing around $180. Pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a shoe (not just laces and “leather”), the LeBron X will include Nike’s + technology, which allows athletes to measure vertical leap, activity, and otherwise assess basketball progress.

Rumors of a $315 shoe led commentators to wax sociological, using the moment to lament the values and cultural priorities of the nation. More specifically, these sociological impersonators lamented the warped values of the poor, of inner-city residents, and of youth—blacks—who would probably flock to stores to purchase the shoes. “The lust for expensive LeBron X sneaker signals a bigger problem,” writes Daryl E. Owens, a columnist at the Orlando Sentinel. Whether linking it to warped priorities or reviving memories of black youths murdering each other for expensive shoes in the 90s (and more recently), Owens points to the dangers of consumption from certain communities: “For too many, the problem is a malignant mutated strain of conspicuous consumption, crossed with hardship and low self-esteem.” Greg Doyel of CBS Sports also objected that “LeBron is trading on the most vulnerable part of his fan base: their self-image.”

Imagining black youth as lacking values, self-esteem, and agency, Doyel and company see the shoes—and not poverty, job and housing discrimination, the prison-industrial complex, divestment in public education, etc.—as the destructive influence on the future of this generation. In other words, the allure of these shoes, and the desire to get one’s hands on them at any cost, is the explanation for persistent inequality. Painting a picture of black youth rioting and killing for these shoes, of a community lacking values, these commentators play on the worst kind of stereotypes and misinformation.

Yet it seems clear that Nike does have a message to market. The company is selling high-school and college athletes the prospect of not just a career but also a future. As with higher education as a whole, this is a message directed at the middle-class—at suburban whites rather than blacks. The LeBron X provides the electronic wizardry for student athletes to better their game. These shoes are imagined as yet another device or investment in a path toward the American dream. Akin to private coaches, the best equipment, nutritionists, private traveling teams, and other financial burdens, the shoes are yet another example of how sports achievement is tied to consumption and investment, to privilege. Akin to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a degree from an elite college, tens of thousands on private high schools or preschools because they are pipelines to the American dream. The shoe itself—and the reaction—is a metaphor for what is happening to higher education.

Continue reading @ Shoes, Diplomas, and the American Dream – The Conversation – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“America Has Never Been America”: Whiteness, Nostalgia and HBO’s The Newsroom

“America Has Never Been America”: 
Whiteness, Nostalgia and HBO’s The Newsroom
by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan (in Exile)
There is a speech making its rounds in the blogosphere and on social media that seems to galvanizing (parts of liberal) America.  Unfortunately, it isn’t Malcolm’s “Ballot or the Bullet,” Fannie Lou Hamer’s brilliance at the 1968 Democratic Convention, King’s “Beyond Vietnam” or Fred Hampton’s inspiring language, but rather Jeff Daniels’ monologue at the beginning of HBO’s Newsroom.  Capturing Aaron Sorkin’s propensity for sappy dialogue that is drunk on optimism, this speech also reflects his propensity to see the world through binaries, often erasing the complexities, divisions, and inequalities that define culture, politics, and society.  It also embodies a disturbing level of nostalgia that seems commonplace within televisual culture.  From Mad Men (more discussion here) to Pan-AM, contemporary TV (and film – The Help) is rooted in nostalgia for the past, one that fails to account for the less than idyllic world for people of color, women, the GLBT community, and others whose dreams remain deferred.
In responding to a young woman’s question about America’s greatness (American Exceptionalism), Will (Daniels) launched into a lengthy monologue:
Will: It’s not the greatest country in the world, professor, 
that’s my answer.
Moderator [pause]: You’re saying—
Will: Yes.
Moderator: Let’s talk about—
Will: Fine. [to the liberal panelist] Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paychecks, but he [gesturing to the conservative panelist] gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money, it costs votes. It costs airtime and column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fuckin’ smart, how come they lose so GODDAM ALWAYS!
And [to the conservative panelist] with a straight face, you’re going to tell students that America’s so starspangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. Two hundred seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.
And you—sorority girl—yeah—just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about?! Yosemite?!!!
As I initially watched this Olberman-esque sermon, I was intrigued, although I didn’t find the information or the argument particularly powerful – it was unusual for mainstream TV.  It also did speak to how whiteness operates, whereupon Will or Sorkin can challenge American Exceptionalism without their patriotism or citizenship being questioned; yet people of color cannot offer these same arguments without denunciation and demonization. My interest quickly turned from frustration to annoyance to disgust to outrage as he continued with his myopic and white-colored lecture:
We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
In a blink of an eye, Sorkin transports viewers from the problems of today to a time worthy of celebration and memory.  In erasing the violence, inequality, segregation, dehumanization, and denied rights, the monologue nostalgically imagines an exceptional time in American history.  It offers evidence of and potential for the American Dream; it sees the past as time for meritocracy.  America’s greatness rests with the hard work and perseverance of previous generation.  It exists with a time when anyone could live out his or her dream. At the same time, the show imagined a time where people struggled and triumphed, overcoming obstacles through personal responsibility, hard work, and community.
What a crock; clearly we need to crack open a history book in Hollywood. Ernest Hardy offered his assessment of the clip in a Facebook post:
Ugh. I really, really, really hate this ahistorical bullshit paean to an America that never existed. Every time I watch this clip, I think of Black GI’s who were denied the same loans as their white brothers-in-arms when they returned from WWII; of the Black men used as lab rats in Tuskegee to help America reach those dizzying heights of medical breakthroughs; of the Black women who endured all sorts of emotional/sexual/psychological horrors that ‘The Help’ would never have the balls to really detail; I see Medgar Evers’ assassinated in his driveway in a warm-up to the murders of Dr. King and Malcolm X. Fuck this angry white dude rewrite and whitewash of history.
His comments and the scene itself made me think of a spoken word piece I wrote a few years ago regarding “the greatest generation” and this commonplace racial amnesia:
The greatest generation
You mean the Jim Crow generation
White only signs, lynchings, and the Klan
You mean the Scottsboro generation
One of many incarcerated from the generations of blacks in American
You mean the sharecropper generation
Debt servitude, enslavement, and no protections
You mean the Tom, Coon and mammy generation
Hollywood representations: Amos, Andy, and Mammy
You mean the Emmett Till generation
Murder a boy for whistling, like so many others
You mean the Japanese internment generation
“No Japs allowed,” excepted in Hawaii and in the military
You mean the atom-bomb generation
Killin 1000s, but none It Italy or Germany
You mean the segregated military generation
German prisoners first, freedom and democracy not for you
You mean the St. Louis generation
A war to save the Jews, just not those on the St. Louis or 1000s others
You mean the McCarthyism generation
Red scares, loyalty oaths, and the absence of dissent
You mean the Zoot Suit Riot generation
Soldiers attacking all who are Mexican
You mean the Bracero program generation
Give us your tired, your exploitable, your cheap
You mean the operation wetback generation
Don’t give your brown, black and yellow
You mean the bordering school generation
‘Speak English,” not the savage tongue of your inferior generations
You mean the white affirmative action generation
GI Bills, suburban homes and white American Dreams
Dreams made for a white generation
You mean the restrictive covenant generation
“Whites only,” America’s ghettos become black and brown
The greatest generation
The greatest generation
1960s youth who stood face to face with Exceptional violence
Who stood toe to toe with police dogs, fire hoses, and COINTELPRO
The greatest generation
Malcolm, Martin, Cesar, Shirley, Cha Cha, Fred
The greatest generation
Fredrick Douglas, David Walker, Sojourner Truth
The greatest generation
Ida B. Wells, Clarence Darrow and Zapata
The greatest generation
Curt Flood, Tommie Smith and Muhammad Ali
The greatest generation
Amzie Moore, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hammer
The greatest generation
BPP, Young Lords, TWLF, AIM
The greatest generation
Alcatraz, blowouts, Palante Siempre Palante
The greatest generation
“Serve the people,” “power to the people”
The greatest generation
Hip Hop
The greatest generation
Anti Apartheid
The greatest generation
Carlos Delgado, Etan Thomas, Craig Hodges and Mahmoud Abdul Rauf
The greatest generation
Books not prisons, Books not Bombs
The greatest generation
Walkouts and blowouts,
The greatest generation
Down with 187, 209, 227
The greatest generation?
In other words, despite the nostalgia and the historic amnesia of Newsroom, one that reflects its social location and the refusal to interrogate privilege, America’s exceptionalism isn’t a waning reality in that as noted by Langston Hughes “America has never been America” for countless generations.

NewBlackMan (in Exile): Baseball’s “Puppy Mill”?: ‘Pelotero’ and the Dominican Connection

Baseball’s “Puppy Mill”?: ‘Pelotero’ and the Dominican Connection

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan (in Exile)

Sports films are a staple within American culture. From the Hollywood imagination to documentaries, there has been a longstanding interest in sporting cultures. Offering a window into fundamental American tropes and ideologies – meritocracy; bootstraps; rages to riches; the American Dream – sports films fill the insatiable desire for stories of perseverance, redemption, and possibility. Pelotero, a new documentary narrated by John Leguizamo, enters into this larger cultural landscape, highlighting the dreams and nightmares of global baseball.

Pelotero sets out to answer a simple yet immensely complex question: how can a country the size of the Dominican Republic, with only 2% of the population of the United States, produce so many professional baseball players? In 2010, 86 of MLB’s 833 players come from the Dominican Republic; almost 25% of the 7,000 minor league players hailed from this nation of 9.7 million people. The film’s directors, Ross Finkel, Jon Paley, and Trevor Martin describe their goal as follows:

The central question behind Pelotero was a simple one: Why are Dominicans so good at baseball? The tiny island nation is consistently overrepresented in the Major Leagues, and as America’s pastime continues to globalize, every year brings a fresh crop of young Dominican Peloteros to the top levels of the game. We had a romantic image of these players’ humble beginnings etched in our minds; poor kids chasing rolled up socks through dusty streets as motorbikes whizzed by. However, that vision of street ball felt disconnected to another romantic idea of Dominican baseball; Big Papi, Sammy Sosa, or Robinson Cano slowly trotting around the bases under the bright lights and cheering fans of a big league ballpark. How does one lead to the other? And what is the story in between the two?

Eschewing cultural arguments, those that emphasize role models and “the single-minded pursuit of baseball” and theories that harken Social Darwinism, Pelotero highlights the social, political and economic contexts that funnel Dominican youth into the professional ranks.

With only two offices throughout the world, one in New York City and the other in Dominican Republic, it is clear that Major League Baseball has focused its efforts on developing future players. The desperation and poverty facing those in the Dominican Republic and throughout the Caribbean and Latin America has produced conditions ripe for American corporations taking advantage of this potential labor force, ultimately exploiting workers (players) inside and outside the United States. The establishment of “schools” – baseball’s sweatshops that produce its raw materials – has exacerbated this process.

Beyond filling the League with talented ball players, Major League Baseball teams use the “third world” because the “raw materials” (the players) are cheap. Dick Balderson, a vice-president of the Colorado Rockies, called this process a “boatload mentality.” The idea behind this approach is to sign a “boatload” of Latin players for less money, knowing that if only a couple make it to the big leagues, teams will still profit from the relationship. “Instead of signing four [American] guys at $25,000 each, you sign 20 [Dominican] guys for $5,000 each.” The desperation and poverty facing those in Latin America is facilitating this “single-minded” pursuit of sports, creating a situation where professional baseball teams are able exploit this labor force.

Charles S. Farrell, who is the former director of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Sports, described the dangerous predicament facing youth in the Dominican Republic:

Baseball is mainly the sport of the poor in the Dominican Republic, and viewed by so many as a way to escape poverty. Mothers and fathers put a glove on boys as soon as they can walk in order to pursue the dream of la vida buena.

But with every dream there are dream merchants, those who promise to pave a path to glory and riches for a price. The buscónes, as they are known, latch onto prospects at an early age, giving them advice and consul on how best to pursue the dream. Some are genuine in their mission; others simply hook into a potential meal ticket. Either way, good or bad, the buscónes have become a part of the Dominican baseball scene.

Pelotero highlights the consequences of the overdevelopment of the institutions of baseball alongside the underdevelopment of society at large (thanks in part to the polices of the IMF and World Bank). It elucidates how everyone from scouts to the teams themselves take advantage of the limited economic opportunities, the manipulated (unfree) marketplace, and the imported American Dream to get young 13 and 14 year olds to work hard so that maybe their parents can have a better life. Reduced to commodity, the efforts to sell a dream, a future, and most powerfully freedom/independence (signing day is July 2) to the players and their families are crucial in maintaining this exploitative system. One respondent in the film describes the ways that baseball views these young men: “It’s like when you harvest the land, you put seed on the land, you water it, you clear, and then when it grows, you sell it.”

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan (in Exile): Baseball’s “Puppy Mill”?: ‘Pelotero’ and the Dominican Connection.

The Invisible War: A Film on Rape, Women and Combat (A Review)

June 23, 2012


Horrifying . . . devastating . . . infuriating . . . saddening.  These are the emotions I felt as I watched The Invisible War, a new film, written and directed by Kirby Dick, which opened nationally yesterday.  To be sure, The Invisible War isn’t your typical war story.  It’s a gripping docu-film that focuses on the “powerfully emotional stories of rape victims” within the U.S. military, and their “struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice.”  Shining a spotlight on a world largely defined by masculinity, combat, force, sex, and concealment, this film unveils the following:

  • 20% of women are assaulted while in the military
  • Only 8% of the assailants are prosecuted, with only 2% facing conviction
  • 80% of the victims do not report
  • 25% of women do not report rape because the person responsible for receiving the report is oft times also the rapist
  • 1% of men in the military, totaling 20,000, are victims of rape
  • 15% of incoming military recruits acknowledge that they have attempted or committed a rape prior to entering the service
  • 40% of homeless female veterans are victims of rape
  • Of the 3,223 cases that are actually prosecuted, only 175 of the assailants would serve jail time (all numbers are from the film or related press)
  • “The Veterans Administration spends approximately $10,880 on healthcare costs per military sexual assault survivor. Adjusting for inflation, this means that in 2011 alone, the VA spent almost $900 million on sexual assault‐related healthcare expenditures” (press packet).

The Invisible War paints a picture of injustice and sexism, and a culture of sexual violence that has reached epidemic proportions.  However, it does more than offer disheartening and infuriating statistics.  It provides a story, a story about women and men—those who are celebrated as heroes, who receive standing ovations at parades, whose service is lionized and celebrated over and over again—who have been raped while serving in the U.S. military.  Irrespective of yellow ribbons and holidays, it is a story that illuminates rape culture and the ways that victims are multiply victimized within a culture of warfare, camouflage (or cover-up), and sexual violence.

The filmmakers interview roughly 70 survivors of military rape, women and men, who in the face of victimization by their assailants, their military community, and countless others, have decided to fight back.  We learn the stories of women like Kori Cioca who was raped and physically beaten while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard.  We hear how her assailant, who was also her commanding officer, didn’t just rape her, but also broke her jaw during the attack.  And, we learn how Cioca was reminded (over and over again) that her punishment for “lying” would be a court-martial, when attempting to report the assault to those in command.

The Invisible War elucidates a culture of rape and victimization as well as the continual cultivation of revictimization, wherein the military instigates an “in-house” society of violence—among comrades.  Some victims were even charged with adultery due to the assailant being married!  Moreover, of the five women from Marine Barracks Washington interviewed in the film, four were investigated and punished after reporting incidences of rape.  They were told to “suck it up,” unfairly disciplined professionally, threatened with prosecution, and demonized publicly.  And perhaps worse of all, they were often forced to face their assailants every step of the way.

From suicide attempts to physical pain, the film documents several consequences of rape, to include but not limited to rising costs, exacerbated by an “in-house” rape culture.  We see this with Cioca.  The physical pain resulting from her assault is endless.  Because of her broken jaw, Cioca continues to live on a liquid diet, she cannot go outside when it is cold because of pain, and probably most dispiriting, Cioca’s assault remains with her both physically and emotionally.  In fact, she often wakes up screaming.  The dual agony of severe discomfort and traumatic recollection are unceasing.  Unfortunately, this reality has been largely ignored by the VA, which refused to cover all of her medical expenses.

The power of The Invisible War rests with the elevation of the voices and experiences of the soldiers themselves and their families.  The consequences of sexual violence can be felt in the physical and emotional anguish expressed throughout the production.  However, though the film gives voice to victims of rape (and their families) within the military, therefore breaking the silence perpetuated by a complicit media, it misses a critical opportunity to expand the discussion to explore the effects and entwinement of militarism, patriarchy and misogyny in our broader socio-political context.  At times, The Invisible War seems to even downplay how patriarchy and American institutions/ideology(ies) actually sanction and give life to rape culture(s).  In short, in trying to spotlight the injustice facing men and women in the military, and the systematic camouflaging (pun intended) at each level in the chain of command, The Invisible War misses the opportunity to make some pretty significant connections.

A more efficient grasping of sexual violence within the military requires looking at its deployment of gendered language as well as the ways in which women are objectified within and without military culture.  It also demands that we look at “base women,” the relationship between U.S. operations overseas and prostitution, as well as the ways that sexism infects U.S. policies.  In addition, a more critical reading of sexual violence pushes us to explore the treatment of women within the U.S. military, particularly those serving in countries currently occupied by the U.S.
Continue reading @ The Invisible War: A Film on Rape, Women and Combat (A Review) | The Feminist Wire.

Adidas and the Truth About ‘Slavery Sneakers’ – News & Views – EBONY

Adidas and the Truth About ‘Slavery Sneakers’

David Leonard

Adidas’ planned release of its “JS Roundhouse Mids” shoes has been put on hold, but the rightful outrage continues.

The sight of “slave shoes”—sneakers with shackles and chains—prompted widespread indignation and outrage. “The attempt to commercialize and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where Blacks were considered three-fifths human by our Constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive. Removing the chains from our ankles and placing them on our shoes is no progress,” writes Jesse Jackson. “For Adidas to promote the athleticism and contributions of a variety of African-American sports legends … and then allow such a degrading symbol of African-American history to pass through its corporate channels and move toward actual production and advertisement, is insensitive and corporately irresponsible.”

The shoes are yet another reminder of the efforts to sanitize and erase slavery from public consciousness. Whether in the efforts to whitewash history through denying or minimizing the history of slavery, or turning slavery into sources of profit and pleasure, the shoes speak to an effort to reimagine slavery within White America. Whereas the history of slavery is one of violence, bloodshed, and survival in the face of brutality, these shoes disrespect the memories and atrocities at the heart of this country. In turning its symbols – shackles and chains – into something of trendy desire and pleasure, these shoes and its designers not only spit on this history but seek to cash in on the pain and suffering of many people.

The marketing of the shoes also disturbingly capitalize on incidences of shoe violence and media sensationalism. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “On Adidas’ Facebook page, the company calls the shoe ‘so hot you [will need to] lock your kicks to your ankles.’” Like those pundits, politicians, and media who sold fear by citing kids being murdered for their shoes, Adidas sees an opportunity in exaggerated stories of death. By telling its consumers that “yes others will desperately want your shoes but not to worry, they are on lockdown,” the company is selling consumers a footwear version of LoJack. As with the politicians and media pundits before them, Adidas is continuing a tradition of peddling and proofing off of racial fears and stereotypes.

As the history of shoe production has been one of exploitation, abuse and “slave-like” conditions, there is sickening irony in these shoes. Do the shackles and chains attached to the shoes mirror those that have been found on children’s feet? Does it symbolically reflect the sweatshop conditions endured by those who produce shoes and apparel throughout the globe?

Continue reading @ Adidas and the Truth About ‘Slavery Sneakers’ – News & Views – EBONY.