Last year, nearly every Popeye’s in America had cars lining down the streets to try their new chicken sandwiches. And of course, despite literally every demographic of people rushing to try the sandwich, Black people were enthralled in another social media debate. Tons of Twitter conspiracy theorists joked about chips (non-edible) being put in the sandwiches, and even Black celebrities chimed in to question whether or not chicken sandwiches at voting polls would affect turnout rates.
These jokes and chastisements undoubtedly contributed to false narratives that Black people don’t have priorities and don’t vote. Consequently, this year, almost poetically, voter turnout was record-breaking in America’s blackest cities: Detroit, Philly, Atlanta and Milwaukee. Black people single-handedly flipped their states to Democrat and overthrew the racist-sexist-fascist Donald Trump’s rule of the highest political office in the world.
To think that my great-grandmother’s Mississippi home was once surrounded by armed neighbors, in defense of their right to vote against a lynch mob in the 1930s. To think that my father was born only nine years after The Voting Rights act was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Black people took away Donald Trump’s power by themselves to save themselves and America as a result, in spite of voter suppression and gerrymandering. Without. A. Chicken. Sandwich.
Yet, I often think about what would happen if Popeyes did give out free chicken sandwiches with every “I VOTED” sticker presented. Would it be so bad if Black people specifically wanted to grab a bite after voting? Whispers — or even if they didn’t?
Social media is but a mere glimpse of what is actually happening in the world. But judging by frequent online debates, Black people are so negatively viewed that on top of being shamed for what we want, what we can acquire defies the rules of supply and demand. Users have implied that despite Telfar bags selling out in minutes, astronomical resale prices are what add “prestige” to the inclusive Black-owned luxury brand. I've learned that Hermes Birkin bags depreciate when rappers like Cardi B and Saweetie wear them, despite sales for luxury items typically surging due to trends in hip-hop.
Cardi B has clapped back at trolls saying female rappers devalue Birkin Bags ???????? pic.twitter.com/01yxsKb7fU— MTV UK ⁷ (@MTVUK) October 26, 2020
Twitter taught me that Miami, Cancun and Tulum have become so oversaturated, in spite of most Americans not even being able to afford to travel during this time. Every now and then I see a random self-proclaimed Black griot, faux economist that tweets in all caps about Black buying power. They usually compare where Black people spend their money versus white people. They will talk about what Black people need instead.
And then, finally, I’ll go get my hair done by a new hairstylist who is one hour behind. She will put saran wrap over my freshly pressed hair and say, “Instead of worrying about who’s President we need to stop buying Louis Vuitton and save up to buy some land.” This will be the last time I try a different stylist other than the one I actually have.
But it isn't just a Black people's conversation.
I envision a white woman who owns a sustainability nonprofit posting a picture of all the waste in Pat Mcgrath’s luxury makeup packaging. She will be clueless to Black Twitter's ongoing debates, but still get hate for spewing out rhetoric highly critical of Black achievement and use from other users unaware of the previous conversations.
Moreover, the conversation of what Black people consume will seem like an inevitable cyclical conversation that doesn’t end. And it doesn’t. But wanting is human and we have a right to want. Even in a world of so much consumption.
But consumption isn’t a new concept. It's literally why we are here in the first place.
Tulum is the new Miami = Blocked.
Yall got $900/week and didnt start a business? = Blocked.
You gotta sacrifice in your 20s so you can live like me in your 40s = Blocked.
Get a man who’ll buy you an LLC instead of a purse = Blocked.
Yall aggravating now.— Hipsey Hussle (@__DaveyBaby) August 4, 2020
Let us not forget in all of this how white people have eternally benefited from narcissism and greed. Who, as a collective, have employed exploitative practices for the sake of individualism. Think about how that impacts the psyche of the one doing the oppressing versus the marginalized as generations grapple with their wants and needs.
Because the only thing that Black people actually need is equity.
Nonetheless, a Senate runoff is happening in January and millions of people are relying on Georgia, particularly Black counties like Fulton and Clark county, to save America's ass once again. After so much that Black people, Black women, have already done for 400 plus years, the endless work that we shouldn't have to do still needs to be done. I believe Georgia will pull it off. But if they don't, can we still let Black people want things in the new year?
For so long and even still, we’ve been shunned for what we want and told to labor instead — but we deserve that human right. To desire, and imagine and go to Miami after the pandemic because it's what we want to do.
Despite everything we have lost for a myriad of years, and this one in particular, let Black people like and want things. Forever and ever. Amen.