When I was a kid growing up during the 80’s the game of basketball was the center of my young world. Entire summers were spent running up and down the basketball courts of West Philadelphia and winters were spent glued to the television, cheering along my favorite teams. Much of my basketball childhood was spent as a Lakers fan, primarily due to the presence of my idol, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. His finesse, unique passing style and overall offensive dominance made him my choice for best player in the league. The man’s career spoke for itself. Inducted in to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, after having retired due to his successful bout with the HIV virus, Magic Johnson had become more than an icon. Not only had he been one of the most exciting, successful athletes in the world, black, white or any other race, but he had overcome the biggest and most feared epidemic of our time. AIDS!!!
Johnson seemed to excel at whatever he put his hands to. Whether it is basketball analysis, business ownership, or hosting a talk show….Well actually let me take that back…ALMOST whatever he put his hands to. He had help bring about the Starbucks, coffee shop revolution, which alone, I’m sure made him multi-millions. All this is fine and wonderful, but along the way it seems as if something went terribly wrong.
One day, while in front of the television, I noticed a commercial ad for Jackson Hewitt, starring none other than….You guessed it….Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Not long after, again, while indulging in one of my favorite pastimes, I noticed another commercial add. This time the ad was for Rent A Center, starring none other than….You guessed it…Earvin “Magic” Johnson. I used to think that the “Magic” stood for something phenomenal in the man’s basketball talent. A unique skill that he possessed, which enabled him to pass the ball one way, while looking in the opposite direction. Or to single handedly take control over a basketball game and solidify a win for his team. Later the “Magic” in his name, was something synonymous with a miracle. Magic Johnson, had truly proven how much Magic he could perform by doing the impossible. By beating the HIV virus, he gave hope to thousands of men and women fighting with this horrible disease. Because after all he’s still only human, right? Right?
Later on the Magic was proven through his ability to go straight capitalist on us. I mean, no one ever looked at Johnson as a socially conscious individual. He wasn’t the poster child for any movement, so it was a natural transition for him. In fact we embraced it…his career didn’t end with basket ball…Or with HIV….His career…His legacy had only just begun….
Jackson Hewitt along with H&R Block, are two of the biggest exploiters of black, urban economics that you will ever encounter. They prey on poor, uninformed individuals who are living from paycheck to paycheck and see an opportunity to obtain a few fast bucks. These companies are even beginning to target individuals during the holiday season, offering individuals an opportunity to get some Xmas cash. Shucks, who doesn’t need Xmas cash? By using your last paycheck of the year, you can have your taxes done and receive up to a $1500 refund anticipation loan. This forces you to use this same company to actually file your taxes in February. But guess what? That last pay stub doesn’t provide all of the information needed to obtain an accurate, refund amount. Therefore if it turns out that Jackson Hewitt was wrong and you are not owed a refund or you aren’t owed as much as they thought you were….guess who has to pay that money back? WITH INTEREST!!!! I have heard of some individuals, who have been charged between 20-30 percent interest on a refund anticipation loan (RAL). This is legal robbery folks. These companies should be shut down just like the pay day loan companies.
Don’t even get me started on Rent A Center. These crooks allow you to rent to own an item, such as a computer, a television, a couch, etc. Doesn’t sound too bad right?? Well the amount of interest put on these items to rent them with the option to buy, is truly the equivalent of purchasing the item twice, sometimes thrice.
Do you see now why Magic Johnson can never be Magic again? His new title Black Magic is well deserved and was unfortunately earned through his greedy, self centered choices. Black folks supported him throughout his fight with HIV and this is the thanks we get. As usual, we offer our support for our heroes, while they are in crisis (OJ Simpson), but when the crisis is over, we get stabbed right in the back. Black Magic Johnson, do you really need the proceeds from these endorsements? We know you don’t Black Magic so why do you intentionally exploit us? Why do you continue to benefit from our failure, from our lack of knowledge and from our disparity? Why instead of standing beside us and helping to raise our consciousness against these common pitfalls do you encourage us to fall into them? Black Magic, you were my favorite basketball player of all time. You were the black man that beat the white guy (Larry Bird) in the NBA Championship and made us all proud. You are a disgrace, not only to black people, but to all poor people. If that AIDS virus doesn’t come back to haunt you, I hope that someday your conscience does.