While I was there, I had the opportunity to sit with Howard “H” White, senior vice president of Jordan Brand. Our conversation was wide-ranging, covering everything from the company’s history to the implications of the Jordan 31 and whether or not Michael Jordan is a Jedi Knight. Last month I visited Nike’s Beaverton Campus to cover the then-upcoming release of the Air Jordan 31.
But sitting in that office, built by a winning philosophy and millions of pairs of sneakers sold, it was impossible not to think of Replica Panerai Watches
the vein of violence that runs through sneaker culture. The violence that, however unwittingly or unwillingly, Jordan Brand is a part of. Its sneakers are some of the most sought-after and valuable on the market, making their owners easy targets for theft and muggings. The most recent high-profile slaying was of New Jersey sneaker shop owner Jamal Gaines, who was killed in his own store. It’s another entry in a list that’s far too long already.
In 1990, Sports Illustrated ran an infamous cover story with the headline “Your Sneakers or Your Life.” It lit a firestorm over the issue. The nationwide conversation started then and has since raged on. But it’s mostly been one sided. Every time a new act of violence is reported, the sneaker community speaks out about its shame and outrage, but brands never comment.
To date, Michael Jordan has remained silent on this issue—despite public cries for a statement.
Jordan has been robbing the hood since. Kids dying for shoes and the only face this dude makes is I don’t care. The time will change!
— I AM PEACE STAR (@StarburyMarbury) October 5, 2015
Sitting with H was a rare opportunity to get some words on this poisonous element in the community. So I asked him. I wanted to know what he thought about it, and if there was anything to be done.
His thoughts are presented here, with minor edits for clarity.
It saddens me…”It’s a shoe that I want so I’m going to take it.” Unfortunately those things happen, which are systemically bad.
The good news is there are so many people that [sneaker culture] has inspired to do great things. The person that says, “Wow, man, I remember the first job I got because I had to have them and save money.” “My Mom got me those Cement IVs if I got good grades.”
So, I’m working here now because they inspired me. You know, the mother that says, “I got them for my little kid because it’s about excellence and standards and I want them to appreciate that.”
You hate to see that [sort of violence] over anything, actually. You would reduce yourself to this?
But then all of those people that stand in line, that brave the cold, that say, “This means something to me.” Getting that pair of shoes makes them feel better about themselves. If it gives them the ability to dream and hope, that’s hard to take from a kid. So you can always say, “Hey, because of this we aren’t going to do this anymore.” But are we helping kids?
Let’s say this person goes on to find the cure for cancer. Let’s say that the person that kept hope graduates from school, goes to college, and all of the sudden their family is able to rise. That’s worth its weight in gold. If you ask the parent to put a price on a dream they will say it’s priceless. So what I tell people is, maybe that kid is impoverished money-wise, but if this unleashes that force within them, what’s that worth? What price is that worth?
So, the unfortunates: I don’t know if they could ever outweigh the positives.
There is little, if anything, brands can do to change the behavior of their customers. But at least now we know what one of them is thinking.