The Standard #3

harlemThe knowledgeable gentleman comprehends that his image does not begin with how society views him. Rather, the gentleman’s image begins with how he sees himself. He alone determines and dictates the manner in which he is presented to the world. When he gazes into the mirror, the reflection of greatness should readily greet him. It does not begin with the clothing he chooses to attire himself in, nor the vehicle he selects to navigate city streets. Not the place of employment where he makes a living. Not the amount of money presently residing in his bank account. Why? Well, because character starts with his self-worth. His esteem is not erected upon a mountain of biodegradable materialism – subject to decay and waste. No, the gentleman’s image is based on gentlemanly fundamentals that are concrete and certain. Virtue. Honor. Principle. Forthrightness. The Gentlemen’s Standard.

Heritage – James Howard Meredith

James Meredith

  • James Howard Meredith was born on June 25, 1933 in Kosciusko, Mississippi.
  • Meredith is a former serviceman in the United States Air Force serving from 1951 to 1960.
  • He attended Jackson State University from 1960 to 1961.
  • On October 1, 1962; James Howard Meredith became the first African-American admitted to the University of Mississippi. Meredith was admitted after previously being denied admission three times. 
  •  Meredith went on to graduate with a degree in political science in 1963.
  • From 1964 to 1965, Meredith attended the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and earned a postgraduate degree in economics.
  • He published his memoir, Three Years in Mississippi, in 1966.
  • To encourage voter registration amongst African-Americans, Meredith organized a civil rights march, Meredith March Against Fear, extending from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi during which he was shot and wounded by a sniper on June 6, 1966.
  • Initiated his political career as a Republican, unsuccessfully running against Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
  • Meredith also received his law degree from Columbia University in 1968.
  • Amidst controversy, from 1989 to 1991, he became an adviser to southern conservative United States Senator Jesse Helms.
  • Currently residing in Jackson, Mississippi at the age of 80.

 

Review – Armstrong & Wilson – Pocket Squares

IMG_1764

The gentleman’s pocket square: A discreet piece of sophistication whose primary objective is to effortlessly elevate the overall sharpness of a suit. Now, for seemingly decades, the pocket square was relegated to bland neutrality – no offense to the crisp, clean elegance of the gentleman’s white handkerchief. However, recent developments on the sartorial front has emancipated the classic accessory from the confines expected stodginess and monotony. Widely and roundly believed to be on the cusp antiquation, the contemporary pocket square has emerged reinvigorated, offering a countless amount of variety and selection. And perhaps none are as unique as the pocket squares available from Armstrong and Wilson.

Founded in 2009 by Ontario Armstrong and Clifton Wilson – each a finalist in Esquire’s Best Dressed Real Man in America – Armstrong and Wilson has sought to reinvent tradition surrounding the pocket square, and they are more than succeeding. With an astute attention to detail; the duo infused their reinterpretation with an exciting variety of color and pattern, blessed the inventory with exquisite material, and added a detail that has become their signature – a button. And now, with a surging popularity, it is not uncommon to spot their product being worn by the likes of Chris Bosh, Mos Def, Michael A. Smith, and Lebron James.

Personally, I first noticed these fashionable pocket squares a few years ago, but the pricing precluded my inclusion with the aforementioned players of the Miami Heat roster. Stunning visuals aside, dropping $55 to $85 on a single pocket square just wasn’t in my budget at the time. However, with a few job advancements and a purchase of a high quality camera, the plunge was ready to be made. So, here we are today, ready to offer an honest evaluation of the merchandise for the audience. So, let’s dive right in and break it all down for you.

Education – By Any Means Necessary

Malcolm X WindowTruth: Not every controversy – most likely contrived and manufactured – should be dignified with a response. However, allow me to present another truth; ignorance cannot be allowed to injuriously metastasize the young minds of this generation or future generations. Sure, there are far more pressing issues at present that afflict the African-American community, but surely one can grant momentary pause to address obvious stupidity. Because, if left unchecked, the reverence and appreciation that African-American heritage should elicit will slowly dissipate with each passing generation. That cannot be allowed to come to pass. And with that, the subject matter today is hip hop artist Nicki Minaj, and the dubious decision to promote her new single using the image of Malcolm X (pictured above) with profanity and the word n*gga splayed across the top.

Now, was there a social or political point to made by utilizing the 1964 photograph of Malcolm X peering out his window with a M1 carbine rifle in hand? The answer, not surprisingly, is no. Minaj states that her new single, Looking A** N*gga, was written to empower women. Wait…what? Okay, before we delve into that bit of insanity, here is an explanation from Minaj as she states, “It was almost parallel in my opinion because he has this big gun ready to shoot at a lookin’ (expletive) bleep, and that’s how I looked at it,’ she said. ‘I looked at it as this is one of the most memorable people in our history, in black history, who voiced his opinion no matter what, and I understand how my intent was overlooked and I definitely didn’t want to offend his family or his legacy.” Again, wait…what?

Malcolm X and his family lived under the heavy threat of death and assassination during the better part of his latter years, and somehow Nicki Minaj thinks her tribulations with men are somehow equivalent. For the record, the M1 that Malcolm X was holding was not for show. It was not some sort of symbol. He had it in tow to literally protect himself and his family. Look, in the past year or so, Emmett Till was name-dropped in a vulgar lyric by Lil Wayne. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s image was re-purposed on fliers to promote twerk contests for his birthday. And we all remember Russell Simmons and the sex tape parody featuring Harriett Tubman. I remember a time when hip hop championed and celebrated our history. Question: When did some black folks get so damn disrespectful of our past?

And so, this is the problem with fostering an indifference to an overwhelming and spreading ignorance of our history. However, let me digress for a moment. A few weeks ago, my ear happened to catch D.L. Hughley lamenting the fact that Black History Month was the shortest month of the year and schools only teach the same old, same old – such as the history of George Washington Carver. Now, Hughley is a comedian, and given the fact that I was channel surfing, I am not sure if he was joking or serious. But, I can address his argument with this: Teach your own black history – 365 days out of the year. You have the power to do so. With as much information that is available today, it is really sad that we continuously look to others outside the black community to educate us on our history. People…you have a platform…use it!

Facebook. Twitter. Start a blog, hell, it’s free! Start your own platform to educate and spread our rich black history. Many folk use vast Internet space for bulls**t, yes, I said it – bulls**t. We cannot passively stand by as artists such as Nicki Minaj (and many more) reinterpret and redefine history to conveniently fit into their reprobate world. Enough with the stupidity. Our heritage is being manipulated and mocked for monetary gain, and it is time people are held accountable. The temerity, presumption, and ignorance of some individuals today is frightening. But the only way to combat the lack of knowledge is the infusion of knowledge. Crack open a book. Find something useful on Internet. Watch something thought-provoking. Ignorance is not bliss – learning is.

Standard Recommendations – Suede Wingtip

Grenson Suede Wingtips

Grenson

Currently at this juncture in sartorial history, it can be wholly agreed upon that a gentleman is devoid any excuses for not dressing well, or at least attempting to dress well. Of course, this is stated with the understanding that said gentleman has the financial means to do so. If the means are indeed present, a gentleman can be free to explore the myriad of choices at his disposal. True, the gluttony of options can be overwhelming at first take, but once the terrain is dutifully studied, the navigation can be exciting and refreshing. And so today, we arrive at my latest style endorsement – the impeccable suede wingtip. Chances are you have already bolstered your shoe rotation with a classic wingtip. And chances are you possess a few suede options in that rotation as well. So why not reap the benefits of both worlds?

An attractive amalgam of sophistication and elegance; a well-appointed suede wingtip is duly equipped for both casual and business occasions. A smooth pair will properly add an unexpected dose of attitude to a suit, and they will also hold their own when pitted against a pair of sturdy, tailored denim. Owning footwear that can serve many purposes definitely a bonus. You might also recognize the pair pictured above is heather grey. Well, as a side-note, grey is trending for men’s footwear this spring. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, brown variations will do just fine. Unless, however, you have settled into the terrain and are ready to take the plunge in the grey area. Stay stylish gentlemen.

Heritage – Paul Robeson

paul-robeson

  • Paul Leroy Robeson was born April 9th, 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey
  • Singer, actor, social activist, lawyer
  • Acclaimed international performer
  • Black nationalist
  • Rutgers University, Phi Beta Kappa, valedictorian 1915-19
  • First Team football All-American Rutgers University 1917-18
  • Earned 15 letters in 4 varsity sports
  • Member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity
  • Bachelor of Laws from Columbia University in 1922
  • Film – Body & Soul – 1925
  • Film – The Emperor Jones – 1933
  • Musical – Showboat – 1936
  • Film – Song of Freedom – 1936
  • Play – Othello – 1943
  • NAACP Spingarn Medal – 1945
  • Published biography, Here I Stand in 1958
  • Died at the age of 77 on January 23rd, 1976

Added reading: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/paul-robeson/about-the-actor/66/

Style & Substance – Gentleman’s Animal Print

Paul Smith Animal Print PS

Paul Smith

In the interest of being open and honest with the public, for the record, I am definitely not a proponent of wearing animal print. Now, I cannot place a definitive finger on the reason, but the prospect of fashioning myself in zebra or cheetah hide is not at all appealing. Even when slyly utilized as a discreet accessory, the presentation leaves much to be desired. Perhaps it is my slightly conservative sartorial leanings that prejudice my viewpoint. As I have stated in the past, the sartorial realm offers no hard and fast rules or regulations, everything is a matter of personal preference. Therefore, I cannot dispatch a significant argument opposing animal print, other than calling attention to the distinct possibility of it being a trendy novelty. It could exhibit some meaningful longevity. Conversely, its popularity could be brief. Nevertheless, if you have the luxury of possessing disposable income, and your personal style is a little adventurous, animal print may suit you just fine. And for those gentlemen that prefer subtlety, we will stick with boring checks, dots, and stripes in the trusty repertoire.

The Standard #1

homeless-sidewalkAn honorable gentleman fully comprehends the concept of exhibiting class, sympathy, and compassion. During episodes of great tragedy or human misery, the humane gentleman believes in charity and generosity. It is second nature. The considerate gentleman does not greedily seize upon the opportunity to criticize, politicize, or monetize unfortunate realities. His moral fiber is fortified with virtue and humility. He understands that the weight of life may prove too great for some individuals to bear. Alas, he has been blessed with robust shoulders that can bear life’s burdens, and that fact is not lost on him. He is blessed to be a blessing to those in need. Because, benevolence is a character trait that is not foreign to him, nor is it casually minimized. It is far too easy, agonizingly too simple to take what life has pleasantly afforded us for granted. Sometimes, perspective becomes distorted when the lens has become clouded with prosperity. Allow your wisdom to correct your focus. Your current situation could be dramatically different-and not in a good way. Be thankful. And always remember to assist others who may be in need. It could be you that requires the empathetic generosity of a stranger one day.

It’s Official…I’m Finally a Daddy!

IMG_1415Well, more than a few days have elapsed since I last posted an entry, and I have a very good explanation to explain my absence. The moment that I had been patiently waiting for arrived – Stephanie and I are officially parents! My little girl arrived in the midst of the polar vortex very healthy and strong. Physically and emotionally, the entire birthing experience was intense; probably the most intense event I have ever been party to. Nevertheless, I could not have prayed for anything more perfect, as my wife and I were truly a team. And so, the last few days have been a blur. The concept of time has all but disappeared. My days are now measured by if I am awake or asleep. So as I regain my balance going forward, I will be sure to write about my experience as a first time father. It was truly amazing. Talk with you later.

AT&T 28 Days – 2014 Press Release – Making History Happen

28days attImagine the difference you could make in the community if you committed 28 days to service. Now imagine that you had the opportunity to team with others to support healthy living, the arts, or help kids learn more about technology with proven mentors like Olympic Gold Medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, hip-hop icon MC Lyte, and digital media leader Wayne Sutton. AT&T 28 Days is giving you the chance to do that and more this Black History Month with two opportunities to make history happen. Go to att.com/28days for a chance to join one of three teams on a month-long community service challenge, or learn how you can participate in weekly fan challenges.

There are two ways you can give back in 28 days:

1.) Join A Team For A Chance To Win $5,000

Starting January 9, 2014, people nationwide can enter individually at att.com/28days for a chance to join one of three teams dedicating the month of February to service in the communities. The selected teams of four will be paired with an AT&T 28 Days celebrity mentor and given weekly challenges, like helping a non-profit organization boost their Twitter followers by developing a communications plan. Teams will earn points by completing their weekly challenges and building awareness through social media. The winning team will receive a grand prize of $20,000 ($5,000 per team member).

2.) Enter Fan Challenges For Cool Prizes

Beginning in February, people can enter fan challenges for a chance to win cool prizes.  Fan Challenges will be announced weekly at att.com/28days.

As part of the team challenges each team will collaborate with three non-profit organizations selected as Friends of AT&T 28 Days.  Some of the weekly team challenges will help these organizations continue to make a difference in the community.   Learn more about the Friends of AT&T 28 Days below, and then check out how each team will help make history happen at att.com/28days.

WriteGirl

WriteGirl is an organization that gives teenage girls access to creative writing and mentoring programs. MC Lyte’s team will help increase awareness of WriteGirl, and find mentors for a day long workshop in February.

Oakland Center for Digital Arts & Literacy (OCDAL)

The Oakland Center for Digital Arts & Literacy (OCDAL) works to increase digital literacy among Oakland’s inner city and disadvantaged youth. Wayne Sutton’s team will help OCDAL’s Inspire Program reach grade school and high school students throughout the Oakland, California area.

National Urban League of Young Professionals (NULYP) Austin Chapter

The National Urban League of Young Professionals (NULYP) Austin Chapter, works with local youth to empower their communities and change lives, through the Urban League Movement. Sanya Richards-Ross’ team will help the NUYLP of Austin increase their social media presence and gain publicity around their community programs.

For more information on AT&T 28 Days, go to att.com/28days.

Black Thought

booker t washington“Have you grown to the point where you can unflinchingly stand up for the right, for that which is honorable, honest, truthful, whether it makes you popular or unpopular? Have you grown to the point where absolutely and unreservedly you make truth and honor your standard of thinking and speaking?”

-Booker T. Washington

Sometimes, a gentleman must utilize the power of his voice to tell individuals what they need you hear, and not necessarily what they want to hear. Trust, there exists a sharp contrast between the two. And sometimes, he must make a stand for what he believes is right and true. In some cases, truth brings an unmistakable pain of reality, often a reality that many people resist or ignore. And truth can sometimes be a nasty medicine that is seemingly unbearable to digest.

Nevertheless, a gentleman would be doing a terrible disservice by masking truth with pleasant, comfortable falsehoods. A gentleman must be a credible source of wise counsel. He bears the responsibility of imparting wisdom and providing useful knowledge. True, some spoken truths will certainly bring unpopularity. Standing steadfast by one’s moral convictions won’t be deemed as popular either. But this isn’t a popularity contest. This is about delivering a righteous word. This is about standing for substance of a higher standard – no matter what resistance you might encounter. Don’t waver. Stand tall. Stand confident. Speak truth. Make a difference.

Standard Recommendations – Face Moisturizer

Jack Black FacePolar vortex. Sure, the news climate calls for more sensationalized headlines to elicit attention, but truthfully, the climate has done a fine job by itself. I don’t require a fancy catchphrase to provide an education about how it feels outside. Wintry. Frigid. Blustery. Yes, this winter as been brutal in my region. That being said, let’s discuss a topic that rarely gets any attention within many masculine circles – moisturizer. Yes, we need to protect our skin gentlemen beyond regular body lotion. Do not allow yourselves to be deceived by the glacial temperatures outside your window. The sun is still out there. And as it seems that sub-zero temperatures will be around for the time being, understand that the sun does not leave for hiatus in the winter.

Ultraviolet light is just as damaging in the winter as it is in the summer – especially when it is reflected off freshly fallen snowflakes. It is wise to employ a moisturizer that is formulated with a sun protection factor (SPF) to help shield the skin from harmful ultraviolet light. A minimum SPF of 15 or higher is strongly recommended; meaning a product of SPF-15 will protect a gentleman’s skin 15 times longer with said sunscreen than without it. A note of caution, some sunscreens only address UVB sunlight (sunburn), while UVA sunlight (increased skin cancer risk) goes unattended. Select a moisturizer that offers absorption for both UVA and UVB sunlight.

Moreover, the lack of humidity combined with the intense need to turn up the heat can give rise to unwanted dryness. During these bitter days of cold, your skin can be continually robbed of much-needed moisture, potentially leading to cracking or flaking. For bothersome dryness, look for a moisturizer with oil or water-based emollients, as well as antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E) to protect against free radical damage. A good moisturizer may also be fortified with humectants which extracts moisture from the air and promotes retention within the skin. Some common examples are glycerin and glycerol. Now, the natural aging process cannot be stopped, but one can mitigate the process if the proper measures are taken. Do your face favor and employ a moisturizer in your life. Your face will thank you some years down the road.

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