By Andrea Michelle
Skyrocketing debt and plummeting savings. Real Louis Vuitton tattoos to match fake Christian Louboutin pumps. Children named Chardonnay and Aâ€™Lexus. These are all interconnected symptoms of a pandemic which is ravaging our communities faster than diabetes and high blood pressure. Iâ€™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 letâ€™s face it people, most of us are just plain frontinâ€™â€¦ 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 isÂ MoÃ«t or moscato, big pimpinâ€™ 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:
â€¦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.
[Broke man image via Shutterstock]