In the world of skateboarding, everyone knows of the DGK brand, which is an acronym for “Dirty Ghetto Kids”. As the name implies, much of the company’s merchandise is targeted towards youth, and it is especially popular among those fond of the hip-hop style of music and fashion. Like many skateboarding brands, DGK has its own elite team of professional-level skaters that they recruit through sponsorships, and for 14 year-old Steven Fernandez, this deal was truly a life-changer.
Hailing from a lower-class neighborhood in Compton, California, Fernandez, known colloquially by his nickname “Baby Scumbag”, has grown to be a huge icon for his brand, filling up shopping centers with screaming fans whenever he announces a visit. One would be quick to think that this is the skateboard world’s version of “Bieber Fever”, and in many ways they would be correct. However, Fernandez still resides in his lower-middle class family’s meager household. DGK, a company that has grown far beyond its early days as an independent label, pays Fernandez largely through skateboard gear and clothing, which does not help him much in his goal to get his family out of their Compton home. In many ways, this form of payment is not out of the ordinary, especially for skateboarders signed to DGK’s amateur team like Fernandez, but not every member is as popular as the young Californian. Lets take into consideration Fernandez’s youtube account, which is full of incredible skateboarding compilations and his own comedic videos. Although still technically in high school, Fernandez has mastered the art of social media advertising and has millions of viewers in awe of his raunchy and frankly inappropriate videos, begging for more each week. With this form of free, widespread exposure DGK receives through Fernandez, shouldn’t they compensate him in a bit more than just new skateboards, shoes and t-shirts?
To be fair, Youtube pays Fernandez for advertisements on his popular videos, but DGK is just not treating Fernandez like the company icon he has become. After all, skateboarding is most popular in younger demographics, and Fernandez is drawing in youth because he is young and kids look up to him. Furthermore, DGK even has merchandise with Fernandez’s face and nickname all over it, which sells largely due to the teenager’s vast social media presence. Shouldn’t all this brand exposure be enough to help a young boy get his family out of poverty? Is DGK giving Steven Fernandez enough credit?
Fernandez, Steven. [BabyScumbag]. (2014, Feb 19th) STEVEN FERNANDEZ ON TV – FRONTLINE PBS [Video file] Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXjVosJh-dc
Fernandez, Steven. [BabyScumbag]. (2014, Mar 26th) DIRTY GHETTO DAYS
[Video file] Retrieved from: