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Yes, Young Black Men Can Afford a $300 Belt

by Todd A. Smith

Playing the Hand Thatís Dealt

            The more things change, the more things stay the same.

            For a country that has made so many strides in the arena of racial equality, there seems to be a growing movement to take the country backwards.  Post-racial America is seeing a post-Obama backlash.  Many Americans seem upset with the racial progress that occurred in 2008, and are determined to turn that progress into regress.

            On April 29, then 18-year-old Trayon Christian visited the upscale department store Barneys in New York to purchase a $349 Ferragamo belt with money he earned at his college work study, but was later detained after employees and police officers questioned how he had the money to afford a belt that expensive.

            According to the New York Daily News, ď(Christian) filed a lawsuit after he was targeted by staffers at Barneysí Madison Ave. flagship store and detained by police because they didnít believe a young Black man could possibly afford to buy such an expensive belt.Ē

            Christian, an engineering student at New York City College of Technology, is a fashion forward teenager who had seen the belt worn by some of his favorite rappers like Juelz Santana, and wanted to purchase it with his work study earnings.

            When asked to present identification for his debit card everything cleared, but staffers obviously felt that having the money to purchase the belt was not enough to qualify him to buy one, and he was detained by police for over 40 minutes.

            Thankfully, Christian took back the belt, and probably a significant amount of commission, and filed a lawsuit.

            Many people complain about African Americans playing the race card, but the race card is when people use race as an excuse for their predicament in life.  The race card is not calling out instances of obvious racism.  If that is playing the race card, then African Americans are only playing the hand of cards they were dealt.

            Barneys excuse for this entire ordeal is that they are constantly the victim of credit card fraud.  The only problem with that excuse is how do they determine who is committing this fraud.

            Is it because of someoneís age or is it just because of someoneís race.

            Whoís to say how affluent this young Black manís family is.  I know many affluent African American families who have enough wealth that their children do not have to work as teenagers.

            The bills are paid and everything that they need is taken care of.

            Many of these affluent parents try to teach their children that anything extra that you want in life has to be worked for and as a result many of these teenagers get non-essential jobs so they can provide those luxuries for themselves.

            What if he was a young actor who made hundreds of thousands of dollars performing on the silver screen?

            What if he was a young rapper or singer who had just signed his first national recording contract?

            Unfortunately, what if he actually was a drug dealer who dressed in the finest attire on a regular basis?

            The point is, itís not the job of store employees to figure out how he could afford that high end belt.  It was none of their business.  The only thing that should have mattered was the fact that he paid for the belt with his debit card and the transaction went through.

            If a Black man can live on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., then a Black man can afford a $349 belt.

            Unfortunately for the Barneys staffers who started this entire racial incident, their future status as unemployed Barneys staffers will probably make it impossible for them to afford the same belt.

            Luckily for them, if they are not Black no one will ever question whether they can afford the luxuries in life, even if they are unemployed.  I guess they were just dealt a better hand in life in the eyes of the bigoted few.

This article was published on Friday 25 October, 2013.
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