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  • Writer's pictureZ'heir Khali


Updated: Mar 30, 2021


The silhouette in itself is a statement of unique synergy in action. Let us rise from the bottom up and begin at the “icey” translucent gummed bottom with the spiked themed heel-toe combo. These additions on an all leather shoe would have been an elevation to a completely different category of fashion aesthetic. With a much higher weather resistant midsole that also has a much more moon glide type of ride when you stride than the old ’82 model.

“We see an enhancement to our grip all they see is talons like we falcons.”

The midfoot of the outsole provides impeccable grip in slippery conditions - conditions felt each and every day by a black man in the west, in North America, in public and within our very own homes. Suffice them to say that we be such super predators when they look at our kicks when we just kickin’ back like kids should kick. We see an enhancement to our grip all they see is talons like we falcons.

The plush leather upper gave a luxurious appeal to this misunderstood concept. This stereotypical misconception was perfect to convey my message about the contrast of two things that are utterly so similar – the base color of the upper is white. Skin complexions, though so varied are still just that… SKIN. When we see zebras, cheetahs, leopards, tigers or any other patterned animals that we know has a unique signature to its patterning (i.e. skin color, iris, finger print, etc) we never make out groups that have a certain grouping of its pattern. We don’t say that the animals with a slightly lighter base coat is more superior or privileged than the others. So why do we do it with ourselves?

“But just as any welfare raised Black/Brown child, a difficult and dark situation can always be Afro-engineered into something reassuring and rich.”

Though there are many different material elements that make up this upper’s structure. Plain but plush leather; Star covered leather; a Weather-tech mesh extended cuff, liner and tongue plus a raised loop for easy foot insertion with gloves on. All of these aspects are what we will be speaking about and are necessary to be spoken about prior to delving into the complexities behind the colors chosen.

The similitude between the skin complexions and the leather is but the surface of all the wisdoms within the panels. Where elevation truly commences is in the connection made between the star-studded toe box and the beautiful and rich tribal marking traditions of the Motherland. Not scar covered skin but Star covered skin. Misunderstood but never devalued by those who adhere to the traditional principles of piercing, pulling, and adorning the skin. A reverent and respectful homage made by allowing it to remain pure and unadulterated by an anecdote of color commissioned by my expression.

“No longer though… but we’ll keep the grip.”

Leaping to the complete opposite end the shoe, the loops at the tongue and the heel. They provide that simplicity for operation in nasty climates. Cold sleet. Whirling winds. Slushy snows. Designed to get the wearer rooted on that high traction system.

The need to switch up in the BIPOC world is also known as code switching. The subtle skill that is necessary for adequate progress in a systematically oppressive society. The ability to speak with one linguistic style at work and another at home; one with services you seek over the phone and another for family reunions. Never, EVER can a Black body be truly themselves in this world - in ALL scenarios. The white supremacists-racist society has prevented it in every aspect of Hueman existence from politics, to education, economics, sex and judiciary. It, like all other areas of Hueman development, is a system. A process. And to attempt navigation of this robust and fully functioning system without knowledge of ‘code switching’ would be futile at best and suicidal at worst. Thus, the speed which one can weave from one calling to the next is the only way we have known to survive in the last 500 years. No longer though but we will keep the grip.

“These are the physical elements of the shoe and the symbology which they expressed to me.”

The Weather-tech mesh tongue and upper in combination with the steel eyelets spawned thoughts and visions all too clear and similar to that of an exterior built to endure the elements. Ponder the living situations of Black and Indigenous/First Nations peoples from the time Europeans pushed into the Americas. From the Seminoles that required Andrew Jackson and half of the entire U.S. Army to descend on the southwest. The Lakota and Cheyenne fighting against the incursion of reservation life that has decimated a grand and irreplaceable spirit of history. What of the slave shacks? The volatility of Willie Lynch! The Jim Crow laws and forced ghettos. Redlining in the Northern cities. Segregation. Terrorism throughout all the way up until now. When police can go free after to a woman, in her own home, sleep, they can thunder her body with black powder and rounds. Though the iron chains, cuffs and chokers may be visibly gone the lock and key is still on areas of Hueman life in an ironclad fashion. Those eyelets spawned thoughts of swinging southern fruit. But just as any welfare raised Black/Brown child knows, a difficult and dark situation can always be Afro-engineered into something rich and reassuring. The purple reflective laces wind through the rough and rugged we have just made light of, in effort to make light of the pressure from the depressing environment, boy is it austere.

These are the physical elements of the shoe and the symbology which they expressed to me. I harnessed that with a purified intention and delivered to you. Caged Beauty


The Sky:

A seemingly common canopy between all of the earth dwelling creatures. A rich history behind the elegance of this vibrant hue gives me a deep sense of honor and humility to work with it. Lapis Lazuli. A compelling color that we endure to stare at in the form of sky and sea. Captivating as it may be when we return our gaze to the everyday environment the points of view are vastly polar. Even with two men and two women of different complexions, standing in the same spot at the same moment, in a random occurrence with an outside influence will draw four different interpretations and respond accordingly. With the luster and lure of both sky and sea it is easy to stare. To utilize its cooling properties. But the focal point cannot be the sky when here in the midst of reality there are such scars and signs of oppression that one wonders how the sky is not weeping.

That Melanin Glow:

The original energy and beauty interlaid in all oppressed melanin skinned Huemans. The brown skinned pearlescence that is so sought after and reminiscent of the fact that Black bodies could not be wiped out. It says, “I. AM. RESILIENT. I. AM. HERE. I. WILL. NOT BE DEFEATED. Not every child will become a Beyonce or Lewis Hamilton so it is key that they know that Wakanda is within us all. Within the spirit of strength and courage passed down from our chattel captive forefathers. Ubuntu. That call is worth more than anything that can be stored or hidden in a vault or a tontine if you live by it with a purified intention and implement it with love. Gold is the grace in our glow and gold is mine and yours no matter how high bright or jade your bones.

Blackened ‘n’ Bruised Hues:

Deep purple and black signify the welts and whippings in and amongst all other forms of white terrorism and oppression in America. Right in the forefront of the creation story of this nation. Hidden in plain sight in its school texts and utilized to drive fear in this modern day life. The pain of buck-breaking farms, lynch mobs, whippings, W. Lynch, terroristic/militaristic policing to derail the O.G. Black Lives Matter Movement with Co-Intel pro, and outright thuggish beatings of black bodies in peaceful protests. The bludgeoned bodies of the civil rights movement and the fallen of Tulsa’s massacre. All of that swelling, bruising and scarring has stained the natural glow of our melanin. It has seeped in so deep that we feel only the pain and not the power. Though the power lies within the mind, the pain can erode the mind. So, to symbolize it I emloyed abstractions inpsied from heiroglyphs. Wall beauty to be beheld and voyeured. Fetishized like "Egyptology" but not to be understood with the intention to harness and promote the harmony. These symbols are Illegible. Random. Difficult to comprehend their unique reason for rarity. Just like the history of Afrikan slavery and its continued, non-relenting effects to the present day are a complex and convoluted issue to absorb, assess and act on as a group. But we must or we will perish over something that no other species has perished over. Internal disdain over color and origin.

The Royal Horn of the Rhino:

The Black Man’s pride through proliferation is a stalwart symbol of hope after the unrivaled torture in all of Hueman history - body for body and year for year. As the late great Dr. Frances Cress Welsing states many times, the Black Man’s phallus does and always has posed a perceived threat to Eurocentric thinktanks and provocateurs. The symbology of this project is specifically designed around areas of western thought, history and society so that the consumers of my creations can create safe spaces with their circle and dialogue about how it makes them feel, how those feelings shape their views, actions and social alignments. I want to catalyze the power of change people have within themselves. Sometimes it takes just the right medium so we can laugh, cry or tilt our heads simultaneously to the left together to shatter the barriers necessary for rich dialogue and fulfilled allyship.

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