A Counter-Narrative on Black Male Students: At Central High School’s Black History Month Celebration, the Central and Centennial High School African-American Clubs released a joint video countering the negative images of young African-American males in the media. The students affirmed the following in a video highlighting the successes of young black males within the District:
• We are not gangsters and thugs.
• We are employees and volunteers.
• We are scholars.
• We are athletes.
“The negative stories told daily in the media and in our culture about our young African-American men tend to ignore their successes and don’t tell the full story about how young Black men are becoming leaders within our community schools,” said Central School Social Worker and African-American Club Sponsors Tiffany Gholson and Barbara Cook, who worked with the students on this effort. “In this video, our students reclaim the narrative of who they are and inspire other students to follow in their footsteps.” In our assembly, we addressed the State of the Youth and highlighted what Black students have overcome from a historical perspective. The assembly also highlighted how overcoming those obstacles has helped make America stronger and urged students of all backgrounds to carry the torch for future generations.
*Video Production by Sam Ambler of Ambler Video
*Champaign Central High School & Centennial High School African-American Clubs
*Inspired by the men of Alpha Phi Alpha–Tau Chapter
*Music “Suit & Tie” by Justin Timberlake
You hear the common refrain all the time, “A good man is hard to find,” “It’s hard out here for us sisters,” or even the extreme comment of “All men are dogs.” I’m not here to dispute nor rebuff those comments. Rather, I’d like to change your lane and shape your mind around a topic that is similar at the surface, but miles apart when you get to the details. That topic is “Finding YOUR Mr. Refined.”
Mr. Refined In a Social Setting
Mr. Refined is not your typical guy in a metropolitan city. He most likely will say something to you in a club, but won’t blatantly “try to holla.” For example: you walk past Mr. Refined in the night club wearing a dress that walks the fine line of accentuating and exposing just enough, but not too much. The average joe will use the same tired lines about your sex appeal. Mr. Refined will compliment you yes, but he’ll also take the time out to compliment your ensemble because not only does he know how much time and effort it took you took to put it together, he appreciates it.
Where to Meet Mr. Refined
Mr. Refined leans heavily on his network for things that are dearest to him (social events, career opportunities, and most importantly potential dates). When you find him at an event and ask him how he heard about it, his response will most likely be “I know the ” ____” or “my friend is part of the “_____”. His network consists of like-minded people. The friends in this network have more friends of their own from the same ilk. These friends of friends almost always include at least one attractive suitable mate. *This is where you realize you should’ve been more receptive to that house party invite ;-)*
Now that you know what a refined man will say to you when attracted to you and what circles to find him in, let’s discuss what keeps him after the first date.
In this instance yes, visual aids do keep us interested the same way it does the average joe. We are still men and we still like to be “abreast of a woman’s assets” just as any other man.
For example: meeting up with your refined man after work.
What he’s thinking: “I’m going to meet up with my lady after work so I have to make sure my line up (haircut) is on point and my shirt and tie is similar to the combination she complimented me on last time. I’ll also be sure to wear that scent she said she likes.”
What he hopes she’s thinking: “I’m meeting up with my Mr. Refined after work so I’ll opt for the outfit that is office appropriate when covered with a blazer, but reminds him why he chose me when I take it off. I’m happy he chose a place not too far from where I work so I can wear those heels he always compliments me on rather than my flats. I’ll also wear that scent he likes and his favorite color in my lingerie ….just in case :-)”
Lastly but most importantly, this tip to keeping your Mr. Refined interested has everything to do with the parts of a relationship that only come to light after the puppy love and honeymoon phase has ended.
I present to you two terms: intellect and ambition. Ladies, if your Mr. Refined is in his dream career, pursuing his creative outlet, or an entrepreneur; your ambitions should match or (dare I say) exceed his. Think of it this way, in essence, you will become the best friend of your Mr. Refined. Notice how his closest friends are like-minded (see topic 2). Even if pursuing separate careers, their ambition is fairly the same. We love when our closest friends challenge us, bounce great ideas off of us, and support us. These are what keeps our friendships lasting for years. The same can be said for our women. Ambitious, confident, and supportive. These are attributes that help you succeed in your career, but they are also secretly down right sexy to Mr. Refined. In this area, what separates Mr. Refined from Average Joe is that he is NOT put off nor intimidated by your success. He welcomes and supports it with the open arms of his bespoke suit.
So there you have it, a foray into the mind of Mr. Refined within the realm of dating and relationships. I tip my hat to you and wish you the best of luck.
About the Author: Garvin Reid is an Academic Advisor at NYU by weekday and a guest blogger and motivational coach on weekends. He is the founder of PIRE LLC which deals in perception based training. Garvin can be contacted on Twitter and Instagram @ReidTweenDaLine or GReid08@gmail.com via e-mail.
“Fashion, fade style is eternal” -Yves St. Laurent (1936-2008)
French fashion designer, Yves St. Laurent said it well, “Fashion does often fade but style is eternal.” Is it genetic, innate or created, you chose, but certainly whatever it is, the style icons of yesterday and today will always be remembered for their impeccable style, and their ability to turn heads. The men profiled in this article each have their own unique style. The middle photo is of the “Unforgettable” Nat King Cole, the suit with the crisp white shirt and the cufflinks. He was such a style icon of his day. The next two photos are of the very handsome and debonair Duke Ellington. In Robert Green’s book, The Art of Seduction, he refers to Duke Ellington as a ”dandy.” By definition a dandy is “a man who affects the extreme elegance in clothes and manners.” I definitely think Mr. Ellington personifies elegance and style in his dress. In the one photo he sports a Homburg Hat that was popular in the forties, and became popular again when Al Pacino played Michael Corleone in The Godfather. He sets it off with a velvet jacket and vest with his high draped tweed pants. If you have ever heard Billie Holiday sing “Fine and Mellow,” she mentions high draped pants. Stunning!!! The Maestro looks awesome in his royal blue matching shirt and tie. The next photo is of Mr. Wonderful, Johnny Mathis. Johnny Mathis has always been known for his elegant style. He is wearing a beige khaki suit with a white cowl neck sweater.
Walter Frazier is a poet from the New York City Area. He attributes his style to his father. He says, “I watched him dress and men of his generation. I never started to wear hats until I saw my father wear them.” When asked if he has a favorite designer he said “No, I create my own style.” He says that his signature piece would be his watch. When asked whose style does he most admires, he said “NBA greats Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe.” The advice that he gives to young Black men is “dress with pride and dignity, and keep your pants up.” Walter is wearing a blue linen jacket with a Black pork pie hat, very reminisce of the jazz musicians of the forties. This hat was popularized by the great jazz saxophonist Lester Young. Richard Price is a college professor from the New York City Area.
Professor Price says that his style was mainly influenced by his mother. ”I am one of six and my mother took me to consignment shops for shopping because she had a tight budget.” He says he still loves to shop at consignment shops from time to time. When asked if he had a favorite designer, he cited Tom Ford, Yves St. Laurent, and old Hollywood vintage glamour of the thirties and forties. He also likes Brooks Brothers and Paul Stewart, and watched the style of the men in his neighborhood and his church. He said as far as signature pieces go, he loves bold strips and slipper shoes. He stated that he also admired an Elder named Brother Maddox from his church. His advice to young black men is “as a man of color always look for ways to distinguish yourself from your peers.” Professor Price also has his own personal clothing line called Striver’s Row NYC. The clothes are made to order by appointment only. Professor Price is wearing custom tailored cuffed trousers (Striver’s Row NYC), a doubled breasted pin stripe tweed jacket and black suede slipper shoes and a vintage Louis Vuitton briefcase. A true style Icon! We will definitely be hearing more from this brother!
The Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, lll is a very prominent figure in the Harlem community. He is Pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York,and I was honored that he consented be a part of this article. When asked who influenced his style Dr. Butts said, it was his father that inspired his style. He said the didn’t have a favorite designer, however he does have a signature piece which happens to be a pocket watch which he’s had for decades, and is very dear to him.
When asked whose style does he most admires he says, Nat King Cole , Henry Ford Sr., and Dr. Benjamin Mays. The advice that he gives to young Black men is “A man’s appearance is his first line of defense against disrespect. Personal hygiene is of the utmost importance, keep your shoes shined and your shirt clean.” A definite style icon!
I‘d like to end this article with generations of style from the men in my family. The pictures below are of my father Joseph H. Green Sr., my grandson Dylan Jason Ellison, my nephew Joseph I. Green (he is the one in the middle with the scarf around his neck). Style has always been and always will be a part of the Black community, and we must teach our young Black men the elements of style!
About the Author: La Juana Green is a native of Washington, D.C. and has an English Degree from The University of the District of Columbia. She is a screenwriter, and her screenplay “ Through the Looking Glass “won an Honorable Mention in the 78th Writer’s Digest Writer’s Competition. Her name can be found in the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition Collection published by Outskirts Press. Most recently, she was the finalist in the Fresh Pitch Contest for her screenplay” ROE “ about an African-American policy runner during the Capone era, based on a true story. Ms. Green makes her home in Harlem, and is currently working a collection of short stories and a screenplay titled “Sisters”.
This is a guest post from Mr. Brian Cornwell, an internationally-renowned gentleman, and the founder of the prominent online men’s magazine, Next Luxury. For nearly 10 years Brian’s advice has helped transformed the lives of men into gentlemen.
All men know the saying “clothes make the man”, but for the vast majority of men in our society today, the rule seems to get discarded quite often. Perhaps it’s a common mistake due to the daily distractions we face on a regular basis with our individual lifestyles. Surely it may seem acceptable to ignore the notion of dressing like a well groomed man, if you consider what you’ll see walking around any major city. But you can’t let the commonality of what you take in steer you in the wrong direction.
You’re bound to discover men by the handfuls that are okay with wearing backwards baseball caps, torn up jeans that are fading in color and worn-out sweatshirts regularly. Now sure, that look might be comfortable for them to wear, but what these men don’t seem to realize is their presentation doesn’t warrant them favorable attention.
And I get it, men will also say it’s expensive to be fashionable and time consuming to follow the trends in a men’s magazine, but the reality of the situation is it’s actually not. Consider the fact that there are sales going on all the time, which will let any gentleman shop on a tight budget. I’ll talk about this later in the article but for now, let’s focus on the core understanding of why having fashionable clothes are extremely important for men.
What your style really says about you
We’ve all seen those fashion makeover shows, and it’s amazing how much of a difference a well dressed man appears in comparison to a poorly dressed man. Granted most of the shows are geared towards woman, no matter which gender it is, the transformation always seems to marvel and impress us.
Now imagine if people started taking away the same positive impressions about you on a daily basis. While it won’t be nearly quite as dramatic, just think for a moment about the newly found attention others could be giving to you. Your business clients, women, family, and friends are all going to take you for being a more respectable gentleman.
These are the same people who spend so much time to impress you with their style and fashion in the first place. In return why wouldn’t you consider presenting yourself in the same manner to them? Don’t let people think about every single thing they need to change about you, instead present to them a man that’s strong in stature and uses good fashion and grooming judgment.
Starting the process of updating your image
One of the best reasons to get yourself out there and start shopping for a new wardrobe is that it’s going to make you stand out. Remember, most guys don’t dress well, and simply updating your wardrobe is going to distinguish you from the competition.
To do so you’re going to first be required to answer this question, “Who are you?” Being fashionable means doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable or someone you are not. What it really means is that you have your own unique style, one that defines you, and mostly importantly one that you’re comfortable wearing. You need to get an understanding of who you really are and what your true intentions are.
Once you can define yourself, you’ll need to understand who you are trying to impress or attract. Should it be women, take note of the type of women you like, and dress accordingly. Every type of woman has a different fashionable appearance; it could be casual, corporate, trendy, preppy, etc.
Tailor your look to match her lifestyle, and in the same manner do so towards your social setting and business connections. Because remember, if you really want to close a sale, you’re going to have to make the proper impression on the person you’re dealing with. Men or women, you must always present yourself in a way that will gain their trust and respect.
Where to shop and what to spend
You’ll have to whip out the credit card, so be ready to spend some money. However, don’t think you can’t do it on a budget. You can save quite a bit and discover creative style goods to define your own image by taking a glance at amen’s buyer’s guideonline. Pick out some shoes, dress shirts, jeans, jewellery and other items and start to build your collection of ideas on how you want to look.
Now if you aren’t sure on what clothing to purchase and you’ve read a handful of men’s fashion tips, your next step is going to be going to the department store and getting a wardrobe makeover. Walk into the store that fits a general outline of how you want to look, such as Nordstorm, Blumingdales, Macy’s or even A&F if you’re into that. Find a saleswoman that you are attracted to, and ask her to help you discover a style that suits you the best.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to buy everything the sales consultant at the clothing store suggests, just take home what you feel comfortable wearing.
As well, if you’re tight on money consider discount stores, you can get some killer sales on men’s fashion apparel. Plus in June and July is often when you can walk away with some of the best deals. Usually these two months are when major men’s clothing retailers run half-off discounts, which works out great considering you’ll still have a ton of time to wear whatever you purchase.
Remember, you can be an amazing dresser regardless of how much you’re willing to spend. Present yourself in the manner that makes the right impression for you. Take notice of the smaller details and never lose focus of how much of an impact they can make on yourself. Often we let these details slip away one by one until our entire style is out of whack. So go out for a fashion wardrobe upgrade often, and re-evaluate your look on a regular basis.
Now I’m not going to be like George Zimmer and say, “you’re going to like the way you look” only. Because if you take this men’s fashion advice to heart, I can guarantee that plus this: “You’re going to like the way people look at you.”
Grant Harris is Owner & Chief Style Consultant at Image Granted, LLC; a Washington, DC based Image Consulting Company dedicated to solving the complex image, style & fashion issues of today’s professional man. Mr. Harris provides private & corporate wardrobe consultations, closet organization, personal shopping & other value-based services for men in need of practical & affordable style advice. Visit Grant at imagegranted.com and follow him on twitter @imagegranted.