My guy is from Jackson, MS and he sent me this article from his hometown paper, the Clarion-Ledger. It’s called “Up In My Grillz: New shops attract hundreds putting gold, platinum and jewels where their mouth is.”
It’s about people, primarily black folks of course, emulating their favorite rappers and athletes by covering their teeth with precious metals and jewels.
You’ve heard that Nelly song “Grillz,” right? I actually like the song though I think it’s silly. It’s fun. And if people want to “get their shine on” and go out to the club with their teeth covered with bling, I don’t have a problem with that. I wouldn’t do it and I don’t think fronts are sexy. Don’t come up to me, grin your shine in my face and then think you’re getting my phone number — Naw player.
But it doesn’t bother me. Black people have always created our own styles. It’s also only a matter of time before it gets co-opted and adapted by mainstream culture. Black people, especially black men, have always been trendsetters for the USA.
That’s not what bothers me. What bothers me is that we don’t seem to make money off our own ideas. Instead we come up with a style or trend and then other people make money selling it back to us. How backwards is that!? These grillz cost anywhere from a couple bucks to a few thousand dollars. Go to the Clarion Ledger article and look at the photo of the woman looking at some fronts at the store. Who is standing behind the counter? An Asian woman.
Two stores opened in Jackson selling thousands of people these fronts. Are either owned by black people? I don’t know, but I seriously doubt it. Back in my hometown, Brooklyn, NYC, all along Fulton Street Mall are “jewelry stores” and beauty supply shops owned by Asians and Middle Easterners. No blacks. But who’s lined up spending their paychecks (recently cashed at the “Check cashing place” down the street NOT the bank across the street) on the big gold medallions, chains and gleaming belt buckles? We are.
I don’t understand why we can think all these cool things, but don’t always capitalize on them. And why are we willing to spend $400 on mouth jewelry that we only wear on the weekends (like Ms. Blount in the article). $400! How about opening a Roth IRA or something? I know it’s fun to get dressed up. I know it’s important to people to follow trends. I am not bashing black folks for having fun. But our priorities need an overhaul. Why not open the store selling people grillz and create a little nest egg for yourself? Send your kids to school shining but don’t go broke doing it.
That’s my two cents.