In today’s world of social media and our incessant need to impress people I find perception is EVERYTHING! It no longer matters that the memories you captured on Instagram or Facebook are real as long as it looks good. If I posed with a $1,000 it does not seem to matter to anyone that it is my rent money because as far as they are concerned I am “getting’ money.” The internet and social media has no place for truth and perception is reality. If we live in a world where as long as it looks “good,” we are ok with it, where will we draw the line between perception and reality? If a more advanced society than ours years in the future looks back through the archives, would they even be able to discern the fact from fiction? “Does any of this even matter because it is just social media?” YES, IT DOES!!!

Perception and reality all matter especially when it comes to Black folks in the neighborhoods we live in and the lives we live. Nobody in the “hood” wants to feel or be seen as less than or “poor.” They, meaning Black folks, sometimes live in substandard conditions with access to poor performing and underserving schools. An inadequate education will no doubt lead to a having a less than desirable job and limited career opportunities. If there is no path to making a living wage than relying on the “system” aka welfare to supplement income is the only option left. Growing up in circumstances the last thing someone wants to be reminded of or identify with the parameters of their lives. Not every Black person who lives in the hood is poor. Some folks are quite educated and choose to live in the hood for various reasons probably because of community and being surrounded by other Black folks.

Since there is no real distinction when it comes to who has a background of struggle in the hood without talking to folks, the only identifying marker someone can comprehend without talking to someone is their aesthetic. Black folks are some of the most stylish, fashion forward, and innovative people on the planet. In society ones clothing is a marker of success. If you see someone with dirty clothes or ill-fitting clothes all sorts of inferences will be made about that person’s socioeconomic background. In the hood one may not be able to afford some Gucci shoes, but they can access some $200 pair of Jordan’s. I believe the ideology behind living in substandard conditions and still buying expensive sneakers is that only someone who can afford to spend $200 on sneakers has to be doing well in life. This does more for the sneaker wearers psyche (perception) than it does to change their reality.

In the end does it matter if a Black kid who is wearing expensive sneakers living in less than ideal circumstances is only escaping poverty in perception, but in reality is not? I guess perception IS reality based on whose perspective of the observer even if it is introspection.

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