How the Black Air Force 1 Became Sneaker Culture's Funniest Meme

The Black Nike Air Force 1 has gone from the hood's most nefarious sneaker to running joke on the Internet.

Black Air Force 1
Image via Urban Outfitters
Black Air Force 1

I don’t remember when it was decided that the all black Air Force 1 was the signature shoe of the degenerate. I just remember nobody wore them on purpose unless they either worked in a kitchen, did robberies for a living, or were dopeheads. This theory wasn’t coined by any specific person, it was just understood.

Dopeheads and crackheads in the neighborhood I grew up in almost wore them exclusively, and folks that wore them to work fucked with them because they looked better than those slip-free generic joints they would’ve been forced to buy. The toebox on black AF1s crumble up like paper when they’ve been worn too many times. They look like someone walked around with a closed fist inside them, plus they curl up when you take them off after a long day of shooting up, smoking rock, robbing people, and/or washing dishes. The leather starts to feel and look like plastic, too. Not only are they the uniform of dusty, dirtballs, they will literally get dusty. This is why normal human beings don’t purchase them.

So it’s pretty funny to see this bulletproof neighborhood theory be applied across social media when it comes to photos of people wearing all black Air Force 1s, specifically the lows. A person that purposely purchases them is a person that cannot be trusted. You have to immediately question their motives. These folks have no regard for your safety or their own. For example, one of my uncles used to rock absolutely cooked all black AF1 Lows with a duster jacket and walked around with a metal pick he made in shop when he was in high school (in the ‘80s!) stashed in the inside pocket. Please take a moment to envision that. These types are hard to trust—they’re the ones that you would want on your team because you would rather not play against them. My uncle and his ilk are basically Patrick Beverley: a pair of black Air Force Lows in human form.

During his appearance on Full Size Run, Meyhem Lauren said, "I don't think I've ever done a criminal activity not wearing Black Air Force 1s," proving that the sneaker has serious street credibility.

There's also a "Black Air Force 1 Activity" skit that's going around YouTube.

View this video on YouTube

I think the convo online about black Forces went viral when Drake was pictured with model Malaika Terry. Those blessed with hood knowledge brilliantly pointed out that things wouldn’t work out because Terry was wearing black AF1 lows while on a date with the biggest rapper in the world. Some suggested that Drake check his wallet because she would def charge shit to the game in his name. A quick Twitter search will unveil a treasure trove of black AF1 content, officially making it the funniest running joke related to sneakers. I wish the same disdain was applied to sneaker wedges, but that might be another essay for another day. Imagine shorty pulls up to the date with black Air Force 1 sneaker wedges, though? Could she still like...get it?

Would you have the courage to roast her on the spot no matter how bad she is? It would be hard for me to hold my tongue or not show any kind of emotion. Like, ma, why are you wearing those?

White girls will have absolutely cooked, dirty white AF1s with mop strings for laces, and dirtbags in the hood will forever have all-black, dusty AF1 Lows at their disposal. When you see these people in public, please proceed with caution. They have no regard for human life, not even their own. This strategy isn’t a joke or a Twitter meme, this strategy is for your own good. You can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear, so let this be a lesson to those of you that aren’t from “the hood” or “the ghetto” as a lot of you like to call it. Keep your eyes peeled for all-black Forces when in these streets. The people that wear those are either into robbery or have multiple violent priors. This might come across as stereotyping, but it’s a rule of thumb that has kept me safe and alive. If you do housekeeping or work in a kitchen, you’re good in my book, though. Be safe out there and avoid the bookings.