By Beverly Gadson-Birch
HOLY CITY OR CITY WITH HOLES? And, I ain’t talking about potholes. This week the world celebrates Holy Week and Charleston has long been called the “Holy City”. Sometimes, I wonder just how “holy” Charleston really is. When I was much younger, as my dad drove through the downtown, I would count the number of churches. There seemed to be one on every corner and one in the middle of each block. Well, I might be exaggerating a bit, but it just seemed that way. With so many churches dotting the peninsular and North Charleston as the growth shifts north, why is there so much crime in the area? Why are fewer black families living on the peninsula? Are there any black owned business on upper King Street? Why are fewer blacks shopping in downtown stores and dining in restaurants—some of the finest you will find anywhere? Why has the cost of parking downtown gone up from one dollar to two? I can hardly rub two coins together, but I am notorious for finding new places to shop and dine. By the time I get through feeding the $2.00 an hour meter, I won’t have much left to shop with. At my age, I have worked long and hard enough to do what the hamsandwich I want to do with a few exceptions, of course. So, why do white folk stare at me like I have the plague when I walk into a restaurant or establishment downtown not frequented by blacks? So, what’s the point? The point is this. Holy to me is being more “Christ-like”. It means inclusion, rather than exclusion. Local residents are being priced out of downtown Charleston. There is a disconnect between who can live, shop and dine downtown.
SNEAKERS OR SQUEAKERS? I am always amazed at what motivates or drives people to do what they do. I am reading the morning paper and read where Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 97/1 went on sale Monday at APB shoe shop downtown. It was noted that some people waited in line since Saturday to be the first to snatch up the designer sneakers. I often wonder if those “campers” have a job and whether they wear diapers to these promotions. That’s what I call them because distributors are testing the waters to see how well their product will sell. Who, in their “right” mind waits from Saturday to Monday to buy a pair of sneakers? Who, Who says the owl? I am sure they are not just “any old sneakers” but just the same, they are sneakers. The news article went on to say “in order for the store to control the crowd” only three customers were allowed in the store at a time and after 15 minutes the “special-edition” was sold out. And, only 15 persons were able to walk away with shoes. This peaked my curiosity; so, I decided to check out the manufacturer’s website. As the ole time Baptists would say, “Lord, thank ‘ya” my chillin have good sense. They must have inherited “good sense” from their dad because most folks often accuse me of having no sense. Here is what I found out about Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 97/1 and it will blow your mind. Footwear sells the Hybrid Shoe online for $129.99 compared to Stockx latest sale of $750. I actually saw a post for $3,000 but I think my glasses needed cleaning. At $3,000, there is just no way those sneakers would ever touch the ground. According to the Stock X site, the Sean Wotherspoon x Nike Air Max 97/1 “comes with extra laces, a dustbag and “have a Nike Day” patches. One thousand Nike Air Max sneakers were released on Air Max Day. With such a hefty price tag, Nike Air Max 9 had better come with a security guard. There is actually an Air Max Day, set aside in March each year, for new releases. Now, y’all see why they say I have no sense. Folks buy these shoes on “Air Max Day” for a lower price and actually sell or auctioned off to the highest bidder. Oh Lordy, just give me a pair of comfortable shoes, any shoes. I am sure many of y’all remember $15.99 sneakers that went squeak, squeak especially if they got wet. And, old schoolers thought they were cool back in the day sporting high-top Converse sneakers. Old schoolers didn’t collect sneakers as trophies. They were just happy to have shoes, any shoes that they didn’t have to put cardboard in the bottom to fill in the holes. Somebody just needs to say a-men!
HOMELESSNESS: A BIG JOB FOR BIG CITIES – Holy Week is a good time to talk about homelessness. I was moved by the man who died on the church steps. It is so sad that he made it to the church only to find the doors closed. There was no one to help him. Many churches and schools shy away from taking in the homeless because they say they will “mess up the place”. The last time I checked, most churches have a custodian and schools have Day Porters. Homelessness is everyone’s problem. I am happy to see the City of Charleston moving in the direction of providing housing and services to the homeless after removing them from Tent City under the Meeting Street overpass. The thought behind city officials’ removal was “it just doesn’t look good” for the #1 tourist attraction to have homeless people sleeping in tents next to the gateway to the city. Although, it was the right thing to do, the effort remains suspect. It’s a heartless city that does not care for its own. The homeless was threatened with a fine if they were caught sleeping under the Meeting Street overpass. Then the threat of reprisal was extended to panhandlers because of safety issues. Is it a safety issue? Sure, it is! It was also a black eye to the city/county as the number of panhandlers increased on major street corners. It became a big problem for big cities. Enough wealth is generated from tourism in the City of Charleston and North Charleston to do a better job educating, training and employing the homeless.
SPRING BREAK – Happy Easter to all students, teachers and staff. Enjoy your time off. Be safe!