Black Thought

frederick_douglass“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard on incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.”

-Frederick Douglass

At the close of the regular business day, a gentleman is who he has to live with. If he constantly compromises his ideology for the appeasement of others, he is at risk of losing his identity. He is at risk of losing his credibility. Remaining true to your character is what makes you unique. Authenticity is paramount. It is essential, it is vital to a gentleman’s character. While it is often terribly difficult not to follow the crowd, you will receive the respect & admiration from people for standing on your principles. Most important, you will respect yourself. A gentleman should never acquiesce, he should never tacitly sacrifice his core beliefs because he is fearful of public derision. Stand firm. You are a gentleman of strong character and substance. You may incur differing amounts of ridicule, however, rest assured that those individuals admire your strength and resolve. And they should.

AT&T 28 Days

AT&T 28 DaysI wanted to share some great and exciting news with everyone. Last Thursday, I received an invitation to cover an event for Black History Month, which is being sponsored by AT&T. Delivering the keynote address will be political journalist and activist Jeff Johnson. And also in attendance delivering a musical performance will be rhythm & blues sensation Elle Varner. The event will be hosted by Rickey Smiley. With my invitation, I not only get to cover the event for my site, I also receive VIP access to a meet and greet after the event with the special guests. Again, this is very exciting for me. It is always humbling when someone recognizes and appreciates the work you do. For more details, check out the information below.

DETROIT, Feb. 25, 2013, PR Newswire

AT&T returns to Detroit for a second year with its 28 Days speaker series event, featuring political journalist, Jeff Johnson. Johnson will motivate and inspire Detroit residents to make their mark on history this Black History Month and throughout the year. AT&T 28 Days features a multi-city speaker series tour that consists of some of today’s most influential leaders and trend setters who will provide their perspectives on how consumers can come together to create a future of their own.

For 2013, 28 Days will feature a brand new host, comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley, and a musical performance from R&B breakout star, Elle Varner. AT&T created 28 Days in 2009 to highlight the month of February as more than a reflection of the past, but as an unimaginable footprint to what the future holds beyond Black History Month.

Tickets for the Jeff Johnson speaking event are available for free on a first come first serve basis, at For further information regarding 28 Days, please visit

The Standard #18

Jesse OwensFirmly standing upright under an unrelenting, blistering storm of vitriolic contempt and caustic distrust, the successful gentleman remains undeterred in his journey towards triumph. Triumph – born of an unwavering resolve and complete assurance in his abilities; this gentleman cannot be denied what he has tirelessly striven for. And despite ardent attempts to trivialize his work, undermine his legitimacy, or boldly question his intellect; ignorance and hatred will be trumped every time. Believe it. No amount of mockery can shake his confidence. He is resolute. He is intelligent. He is courageous. More importantly, he recognizes that there exists individuals consumed with hubris and guided by conceit, which ultimately hastens their downfall. So, he stays in his lane and does what he does best – win. Are you a winner?

Heritage – Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

  • Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931
  • Graduated from Lorain High School in 1949
  • Earned Bachelor of Arts in English from Howard University in 1953
  • Earned Masters of Arts in English from Cornell University in 1955
  • English instructor at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas from 1955–57
  • Senior editor at Random House beginning from 1967-83
  • Authored The Bluest Eye in 1970
  • Authored Sula in 1974
  • Authored Song of Solomon in 1977
  • Awarded National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon in 1977
  • Appointed to National Council on the Arts
  • Authored Tar Baby in 1981
  • Wrote play Dreaming Emmett, it premiered in 1986
  • Authored Beloved in 1987
  • Awarded Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Beloved in 1988
  • Awarded MLA Commonwealth Award in Literature in 1989
  • Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993
  • Awarded Pearl Buck Award in 1994
  • Authored The Big Box in 1999
  • Awarded National Humanities Medal in 2000
  • Authored The Book of Mean People in 2002
  • Received Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Oxford University in 2005
  • Awarded Norman Mailer Prize – Lifetime Achievement in 2009
  • Received Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Geneva in 2011
  • Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012

The Toni Morrison Society

The Standard #23

FALCON_WATERFREE_URINALTrue story: So, after a strenuous morning of doing battle with some heavy dumbbells, I am retrieving my belongings in the gentleman’s locker room when another gentleman enters and discreetly disappears around a corner. Now, what followed next was not so discreet. Bellowing around the corner, I was audibly assaulted by loud moans and groans emanating from the urinal area. Seriously dude – what the hell? I could not discern whether he was emptying his bladder or performing a four-finger shuffle with his manhood. Now, it is utterly ridiculous that I have to write an entry like this, but it would appear that some gentlemen require the proper instruction regarding urinal etiquette. Here are five edicts that every gentleman should commit to memory before stepping foot in a public restroom.

  • Sure, that Pepsi has been resting in your bladder for the duration of that 2 hour meeting, but that is no excuse to get all X-rated at the urinal with moans of eye-fluttering ecstasy. Relieve yourself as quietly as possible.
  • And speaking of quiet, you can wait to discuss why that 2 hour meeting was pointless to begin with in the first place. But, if you feel the burning need ( no, hopefully not that burning need ) to discuss your supervisor’s leadership, or lack thereof, please do so in brief.
  • Now, if you have made the decision to partake in some urinal chit-chat, remember that if your head swivels to the left or right, the other one below the belt should remain fixed in one direction: straight ahead. Because, when stepping up to plate, no gentleman likes to step in puddles of pee, or the dried, sticky variety for that matter – it’s urinal area, not a fly trap. Bonus edict: Flatulence can be a pain, but releasing a sonic boom around your fellow gents is crass, and it just makes your urinal mate feel uncomfortable.
  • The following is a personal plea: drink more water gentlemen! Forgive me, I’m not trying to get all up in your personal business, I’m just tired of being greeted by the aroma of ammonia and stale syrup when I enter a public restroom. Bonus edict: Flush the toilet my friend. Looking into a bowl with what appears to be Samuel Adams pooled in the bottom is just unsightly.
  • Lastly, wash your damn hands! Pardon the language, but that is just nasty. No one wants to shake your filthy paws. Note: Washing one’s hands is not constituted by a quick splash of water on the mittens, followed by a hasty shake to dry them off. I’m going to need you to use some soap and water while humming the alphabet song in your head – you need to make it to at least the letter O.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation gentleman. Pass this along.

Style & Substance – The Cotton Gingham Necktie

J Crew Cotton Necktie

J. Crew – Mr Porter

I will readily submit, it is probably painfully premature for most gentlemen to concern themselves with spring attire. My friends in Houghton, Michigan are getting buried beneath a metric ton of snow as we speak. And bravo to Michigan Technological University for canceling classes for two consecutive days, which is an extreme rarity for students. But I digress, it does not hurt to appreciate the exquisite beauty of a fine spring necktie to lift the spirits. So gentlemen, you need not worry for too long, spring is on the way. I promise – really. So, let’s take a look at a beautiful necktie that is sure to provide a needed jolt to your attire. Because, and we are positive with the following assumption, you have most likely drudged around all winter with somber hues carefully draped around your neck. Good news friend; emancipation is on the way. So, what makes this necktie the great liberator? Well, for one, it arrives in a jaunty gingham pattern. And two, it’s woven with 100% cotton. Both are certainly not your customary winter staples. Here is how it should be worn…

Style & Substance – Camouflaged Gear II

Russell Westbrook CamoOkay, I stand corrected. What do I know? Obviously, rocking camouflage should not be frowned upon, and instead, welcomed with loving arms. As graciously demonstrated by Mr. Russell Westbrook – special coach for the East during the NBA All Star Celebrity game. On second thought, no, I think I will leave the camo for brothers with enough sartorial flexibility to get away with it.

Heritage – Emmett Till

Lil Wayne is back in the spotlight again – and not in a good way. The former GQ Man of the Year is feeling some undesirable heat due to a controversial lyric he contributed to a song by fellow hip hop artist, Future. Guest-starring on a remix track of “Karate Chop”, Wayne proudly boasts that he will “beat dat p*$#y up like Emmett Till”. Well, the unauthorized track got leaked, with said lyric, and the Till family are none too pleased. It didn’t take long for Epic Records to issue an apology, and they have vowed to pull it down from the airwaves. Now, I am not going to dive into First Amendment rights and why Lil Wayne is an idiot; sadly the lyric probably would have flown over the heads of this young generation that buy his music. Some probably wouldn’t care anyway. Ironically, if the Till reference is omitted, the song would still be profane, offensive, and distasteful towards women. Just replace the Till reference with, say, drum. Then, Lil Wayne can “beat dat p#$%y like a drum”. Would Epic Records still make the concerted effort to pull the song? Probably not – that is what sells nowadays. Nothing is sacred anymore. So, don’t be surprised in the near future when a label signs an artist called Martin Luther Bling. It’s coming – book it! But, until that day arrives, all we can do is try teach, learn, and appreciate our history. And if you don’t know the story of Emmett Till and don’t understand why the family would be upset, please view the video above.

Style & Substance – Get Down With Brown

Peter MillarUnderrated and unappreciated; unfortunately the color brown has been buried beneath an avalanche of lively, energetic color over the last few years. And color is fine – trust me, it really is perfectly fine. However, don’t forget those chosen hues that are meant to convey a conservative demeanor. Of course, we are speaking of the usual suspects: black, navy, and charcoal gray. But even with that selected array of traditional colors, brown is still left curbside, largely ignored because the only people who rock brown on the regular are United Parcel Service workers. Well, what can brown do for you? In my humble opinion – a lot. So, in an earnest effort this incorporate a little brown into my wardrobe, I have slowly added some select pieces into my closet. Pictured above are two examples. The shirt is courtesy of Peter Millar; a contrast collar dress shirt with a wicked light brown glen plaid print. The necktie is a Hart Schaffner Marx with a deep chocolate color with a subtle repeating stripe that spans the length of its body. Both were purchased on separate occasions, but I was surprised to see how well they both worked together. A little aggressive with the pattern coordination? Perhaps. My wife voiced her disapproval upon seeing the two paired together. Nonetheless, I fancy both the shirt and necktie as a couple. Sure, I could wear each separately, but I don’t think I’ll be divorcing this pair anytime soon.

Style & Substance – Camouflaged Gear

Seriously, if I had the omnipotent authority, I would ban all clothing with camouflage print that did not serve military purposes. Yes – I said it! Now, before I become inundated with a bruising flood of hate mail, allow me to first say this: I get it. I get that camouflaged attire, within the realm of fashion, is meant to be edgy. It is meant to brash. It is meant to be a form of eclectic rakishness that delivers a middle finger to established sartorial convention without a morsel of compunction. Or, perhaps, it is just meant to be fun and not taken too seriously. Well, whatever the reason is behind the sudden insurgence of this trend of the moment, it irritates me. You see, the thing with trends are that they are just that – trends. So, when you rock that camouflage necktie from 2013 in the year 2014, it is going to look painfully dated. Now, in the world of fashion for men, style changes very slowly. So, most shifts will be slight, and you should be able to extract some worthy longevity out of what is being offered today. However, camouflage, from bow ties to dress shoes, probably won’t produce much staying power. But, if you are a gentleman with an infinite, disposal amount of cash and can spring for some $500 camouflaged oxfords, or you have a modest budget and can grab something from Ebay or a thrift store, then more power to you. You just should be forewarned that you probably won’t be wearing it too long. And for many, that may be perfectly acceptable. But, for me, I’ll sit on the sidelines for this trend.

Step In The Right Direction – The Stylish Gentleman’s Footwear Checklist

pp black shoeTrust, people can tell a lot about a gentleman from the shoes that he wears, even something that he may not want them to know. How we present ourselves in general – our clothing, grooming and demeanor all reveal aspects of who we are, but a shoe can speak volumes about someone’s character. It dramatically changes the look of an outfit and gives an immediate impression as to who you are and what you represent. A shoe can reveal your age, social status, character, and personal level of success.

Shoes not only serve a practical function but are also more revealing about your personality than you think. Apart from the obvious – trainers for sport or a formal brogue for work, your selection of footwear offers intimate details about your individuality. An extrovert, perhaps an artistic gentleman, will wear flashy, daring, and brightly colored shoes. An introvert may wear safe, practical shoes that won’t make such a bold statement.

Take a look at the shoes you are wearing now. Are they clean? Do they shine? Are the heels worn down? These details say something about you and may influence how you are perceived, the service you receive, and the level of confidence you exude. Shoes transmit immediate socioeconomic status, and failing to wear the right shoe with a chosen outfit or keep them clean makes a statement. Not all shoes are suited for every single occasion. It is advisable to have a clear idea of when to wear certain styles. Here, we have partnered with UK’s premium department store House of Fraser to offer a simple guide to help you step in the right direction – of course, with the right dress shoe.

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