Forgiveness is not necessarily intended for the individual that inflicted pain upon you. Rather, forgiveness is freeing oneself from the bondage of grief, hate, and vengeance. Forgiveness is an arduous exercise of affording deserved peace and order to one’s spirit. Forgiveness is moving forward untethered to suffering and pain.
March 20 designated the official first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, here in the great state of Michigan, our expectations are never high because we understand the mercurial temperament of our weather. And on cue, after enjoying temperatures that fluctuated between 60 and 70, we were awakened to the sight of fresh snow that had adhered to various surfaces. It was nothing new. Yet, the sheer audacity of snow in April was eye-roll worthy. Despite the temporary visitation – it had all melted by late afternoon – the calendar definitely indicates the season is spring, so the time for a gentleman to prepare his warm weather attire is now.
Earlier this month, I was contacted by a representative from Sperry. Their spring collection was rolling out, and I was offered the opportunity to feature one of their shoe selections. Now, with spring in the back of my mind, I wanted to feature a shoe that had spring written all over it. Enter the Bahama II Sneaker. Bright. Bold. Playful. Plaid. I readily admit that this casual shoe may be a bit too much for the average gentleman. There is a lot to consume here. However, I am humbly requesting that you hear me out on this one. Gentlemen – you need a little color in your life. Trust, there is a time when our clothes can confidently compliment dark and dreary. Now is not the time. And now I’m going to tell you why.
Now, regarding the affairs of gentlemanly attire, the utilization of color remains quite the polarizing issue. The mere suggestion of incorporating hints of vibrant color into one’s wardrobe provokes passionate, hostile defiance. We’re not debating politics here gentlemen – calm the nerves. An intelligent deployment of lively hues demonstrate that a gentleman has granted some much-deserved thought beyond the requisite triad of black, navy, and brown. And we’re not requesting that you dress from head to toe in eye-popping pink, yellow, and orange. Not at all. Rather, a smart placement of color can raise the mundane into a realm of thoughtful, energetic style. Don’t you deserve a little lively style in your life? Keep on reading.
For example, a gentleman can coordinate these plaid sneakers with a relaxed, neutral shade of color for his trousers and shirt. Cream trousers with a light blue polo top can nimbly play off the blue in the sneakers while keeping the shoes the highlight of the ensemble. And quite honestly, with the plaid design, a gentleman can select any of the colors woven into its fabric. I don’t know who needs to hear this: It’s okay to assemble an outfit that does not look like you blindly grabbed something from the laundry basket. No one is asking you to dress like a bag of Skittles Sunday through Saturday. The only ask here is that you don’t fight this recommendation so vehemently. It’s not an attack on your manhood. Trust me. It has been argued that bright, warm colors can actually have an uplifting effect on mood and emotion. So why not give it a fair chance?
Sperry is that quintessential brand that offers a myriad of colorful kicks that embrace the renewal and rejuvenation that embodies spring. A gentleman really cannot go wrong with a pair of Sperry Top-siders during the spring and summer seasons. Here, the Bahama II Sneaker offers a salt-washed breathable, canvas upper with hand-sewn moccasin construction. This shoe is built for backyard cookouts, friend & family gatherings at the park, or simple leisurely stroll through your neighbor on a sunny day. Step into spring with the right splash of color with Sperry. They have a little something for everyone. Trust me, you will not regret it.
To be absolutely certain, with the steady passage of time, a gentleman will experience quiet periods of emotional and mental fatigue. His spirit will be disquieted. His mood will be wrought with irregular swings of melancholy and anxiety. Desperately he attempts to summon the requisite energy necessary for addressing the everyday grind of life. And to be sure, without a doubt, life will present an array of adversity that will whittle away your spirit – if allowed. Please understand, you do not exist on an island despite your current circumstances appearing that way. Trust and believe, your current tribulations are another individual’s testimony. You will make it through your time of distress. Because, despite what feels insurmountable, you possess the resolute will and strength to prevail.
Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him; who have been called according to his purpose.” All things – even the most painful ones. And so, faith must dictate that even the most distressing circumstances must be molded to achieve a greater good aligned with His word. I won’t lie to you; it is challenging and I struggle daily. Nevertheless, today, I encourage and challenge you to seek assistance from professionals that are trained to address mental wellness. If you are reading this and you feel trapped in an uncomfortable mental, emotional space; I am with you. If you notice, I have not posted material here since November 2020. We all find ourselves in a rut. I am not immune. However, every earnest attempt must be made to escape the seemingly perpetual prison of pain that binds us. And escape we will – together.
To be absolutely clear, representation is vitally important to a population of people conditioned to marginalization and abandonment. Trust, one must not underestimate the weighty emotional and psychological impact that representation achieves. The visual affirmation symbolizes the audacity of possibility; it molds and breathes life into unbounded imagination. The reflection of greatness can sow seeds of future greatness. And as pride fills long neglected spaces belonging to confidence and self-esteem; the resulting inspiration fuels the desire to want and become more – more than the forsaken environment that continually threatens to suppress and suffocate the life of aspirational dreams. Symbols matter. Role models matter. Representation matters. And so I state to you, no matter how big or small, it is incumbent that you be what the youth need to see. Your life, your testimony can unbind restraints that shackle the potential success and achievement.
The coordination and contrast of color is a distinguishing hallmark of Paul Stuart. Autumn affords a prime opportunity for a gentleman to flex sartorial flair with a daring combination of hues that complement the season. Layers are a gentleman’s best friend from checked merino wool scarves to corduroy flat caps because warmth is the name of the game – wear it well.
As I have grown older, I realize that success should not be a measurement based on the accumulation of material objects or a particular station in the world of business. Rather, my success is determined by the value I add to the lives of family & friends, the servant-leadership I provide to the community, and the quality of life I help provide for my family.
Humility. The act of possessing a modest opinion of one’s importance, understanding the complex context of life, and respecting the reality that other individuals may be better at some things than you. Gentlemen, please don’t be mislead by the boisterous musings of silly folk; so enamored by their own greatness that they cannot recognize their own shortcomings. Sometimes a man must recognize his faults and limitations. There is no shame in that. One must understand that embracing humility does not make a gentleman weak, actually, humility strengthens you. It keeps you grounded. It keeps you focused – on the important things in life.
It is brazen arrogance that renders a gentleman vulnerable. Trust this: Keep living and life will eventually happen to you. And life can be the greatest administrator of humility. Recognize your position in life, and even if your station ranks well above others, discipline yourself in humility, as the folly of vanity can ultimately become your undoing. You don’t want to discover this bit of wisdom the hard way, but I am sure that you won’t. Maintain the standard my friends; catch you later.
Wisdom is not always indicative of age. Wisdom is forged through years of procuring knowledge and understanding how to utilize it accordingly. If you have gleaned nothing purposeful over years of living life; you are no wiser in your advanced years compared to your earlier ones.
“We cannot have perfection. We have few saints. But we must have honest men or we die. We must have unselfish, far-seeing leadership or we fail.”
– W.E.B. DuBois
These words were spoken so many decades ago. Nevertheless, these wise words ring with an unmistakable truth and resounding clarity today. Because, unfortunately in these turbulent times, the scarcity of leadership is at once hopelessly disappointing and terribly frightening. At its core, leadership demands honest, decisive action in the service and best interests of a people. The naked, bombastic machismo we witness today – delivered with unflinching dishonest selfishness – fosters a maddening, toxic environment with aimless direction. Today, we stand shakily on the precipice of outright moral anarchy. To be sure, the fallibility of man is an unavoidable consequence of being human. No one can escape being marked with some form of moral blemish. Nevertheless, conscientious ignorance emboldened with manipulative deceit is an enthusiastic embrace of corruption. Leadership begs transparent forthrightness based upon principles and honesty. A leader comprehends and differentiates between right and wrong. His actions are guided by truth, justice, integrity, empathy, and humility. A leader empowers others. A leader communicates clearly and directly. A leader practices gratitude. Certainly we need more leaders today. Time to step up.
Many, many years ago during the maturation of my personal style, Sperry became my preferred shoe brand for warm weather, as boat shoes became progressively heavy in my shoe rotation. Stylish, very comfortable, and available in a myriad of playful hues; Sperry offered great diversity that complemented my wardrobe. To be honest, I never thought about wearing Sperry shoes beyond the summer months. And I never imagined any other Sperry selection beyond my boat shoes. So when presented with an opportunity to choose a pair from Sperry’s collection for review, I decided to select a boot. Given the cold weather on the horizon, it was the perfect time to test some Sperry boots here in Michigan.
The pair I selected is but one of many choices from a special curated, must-have collection of Sperry favorites from none other than John Legend. The awarding winning (Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, Tony), multi-platinum artist, and now 2020 Sperry Global Ambassador John Legend – yes him. It is very ironic that I selected a pair of Sperry boots from his collection of curated favorites. Perhaps we share the same refined taste in style. Okay – I’m wildly speculating here. Nevertheless, the Sperry Lug Chukka was soon express shipped to me for examination and opinion. First impressions right out the box: These boots appeared more than ready to handle the increasingly chilly terrain of Michigan. So, without further delay, lets dive into the intimate details of the Sperry Lug Chukka.
- Waterproof leather uppers
- Handsewn moccasin construction with a fully impermeable protective layer for dryness in any condition
- EVA cushioning
- Non-marking rubber lug outsole with molded Wave-Siping™ provides no-slip traction
Sperry boasts a proprietary line of shoe technology branded Techwave. Touted as a fleet of technology for your feet, it encompasses the following components: Plushwave, Rainwave, Stormwave, and Icewave. The Original Lug Chukka is equipped with Stormwave – meaning it promises a no-slip grip, thermal lining, and waterproofing. The lug chukka itself conveys an old-school, tough aesthetic that aims squarely for rugged good looks. The chukka sports 6 traditional punched eyelets with metal grommets (Sperry engraved on each) for added reinforcement. There are two metal hook eyelets at the very top for secure fastening. Four metal eyelets are also horizontally positioned on each side with the signature squared Sperry shoelaces threaded through each hole.
Now, I would not describe the boot as lightweight, but it definitely isn’t heavy as well. The hard rubber sole is relatively thick with a moderate tread that should stomp through snow and handle slippery terrain fairly well. Stitched inside the leather upper is a warm, flannel-like material that covers all of the inside. Warning: Thick socks may make for a tight fit, so a gentleman may want to choose the appropriate hosiery wisely. The layered, protective cloth covering (in a red/black check pattern) is stitched on top of the insole to shield against moisture and water. Regarding exterior waterproofing, the outer seams and stitching appeared clean and tight. The Original Lug Chukka is a relatively comfortable boot with handsewn moccasin construction. However, I must reiterate, a thick sock may make the boot unpleasantly constrictive. The waterproof leather upper is sufficiently supple and soft. The amaretto color (a burgundy-brown hue) responds well to a good polish.
- Robust design with thick rubber sole that should handle snow and slush sufficiently
- Supple and soft leather that readily absorbs quality polish
- Handsome design constructed for rugged outdoor commutes
- Comfortable fit and feel that does not require breaking in; springy, removable insert for added comfort
- The flannel-like cloth lining inside the boot may cause a tighter than expected fit if worn with thick socks
- Squared shoe laces sometimes have the habit of frequently becoming untied
- Strictly constructed for casual environments, this chukka cannot perform double duty and migrate into the boardroom
The Sperry Original Lug Chukka is designed for the gentleman that favors a rugged, outdoorsy aesthetic. To be sure, this boot certainly has a casual feel and is not built for purposes of a boardroom. This chukka should be paired with denim jeans, khaki pants, and corduroy slacks. The lug chukka is competitively priced at $149.95 along with other boots within the same market. The Gentlemen’s Standard considers this a great investment for a quality, everyday boot when faced with cold temperatures and moderate snow.
My fellow black Americans, please stop grading blackness as if it is a badge of honor to determine whose ancestral lineage experienced the most inhumane suffering. To be sure, trust, there aren’t any trophies for whose black pain is the greatest and most traumatic.
Stubbornly, I awkwardly stumbled my way down the driveway to my Ford Fusion and plopped down in the driver’s seat. I placed the key in the ignition to start the engine, shifted into reverse, looked over my right shoulder to confirm clearance – nothing. I looked over my left shoulder – nothing. I shifted the car back into park, removed my keys from the ignition, stumbled to my porch bench and sat there defeated. Nothing. As I had previously peered over my shoulders to perform the ritual of ensuring clearance of stray objects or pedestrians, the nothingness wasn’t the absence of things I may run over, rather it was my vision. I could not clearly make out anything. And so, I sat on my porch bench, defeated, and phoned my wife inside the house to verify if she was going to pick up our son from school. Stubbornly, I was trying to perform the role of Superman, but I failed.
My health issues started the day before on August 4, 2020. I remember that day because I was driving to the polls to vote. As I made a left turn on Evergreen Road, I noticed my vision momentarily blurred as I entered the turn. As I made a mental note of the occurrence, I figured it perhaps a consequence of motion sickness as I sometimes suffer from time to time. However, this time was different because I was the driver and not the passenger. I noted the strange occurrence and continued on to vote with no problems. However, later that evening, I suffered a dizzy spell as I was bringing dinner to the table for the kids. It stopped me dead in my tracks and I had to find my bearings.
The choice should not be between principled enforcement of law & order and the righteous outcry for social justice. In a rational, civil society; both can be achieved concurrently.
It has been quite a long time since I owned a pair of Hush Puppies footwear. Decades ago, looking for an appropriate shoe for the office, I purchased a pair at a local DSW. A dark brown cap toe blucher, it immediately became my preferred business casual shoe for work and social settings. Extremely comfortable, I thoroughly ran those poor shoes into the ground. They did, however, provide many years of incredible service until we had to go our separate ways. I desperately searched for another pair that was similar in style, but my attempts were unsuccessful. Thereafter, admittedly, the Hush Puppies brand quietly dropped from my radar over the years. And then, approximately a month ago, I was offered the opportunity to reunite with the brand and review one of their newest arrivals – the Bennet.
The current national climate of uncertainty has undoubtedly reinforced an absolute certainty; power openly divulges intimate details of an individual’s character through a stark magnification of personal attributes. Power is influence and authority. Power absent good ethics and accountability will most certainly lead to unfortunate, perhaps even dangerous consequences. Furnished with said power; how does a man commence to abuse it? The answer begs an exploration of a man’s origins. What becomes of a child not reared to become a man?
Skillfully schooled to subjugate with a superficial sense of superiority and supremacy; relieved of responsibility and rectitude. Insulated from individual ineptitude and inadequacy; absolved of arrogance and amorality. Deprived of necessary growth and development opportunities, this child physically matures as an adult but lacks the emotional and mental intelligence to function as one. It is the making of mock manhood molded in magnificent mediocrity and manufactured masculinity. What becomes of a child not reared to become a man, yet now is imbued with power?
What stands is a man that abdicates any modicum of morality, decency, responsibility, and empathy. He consistently constructs imaginary slights as motivation to humiliate and demean individuals. He accumulates and consolidates power for selfish benefit and gain. Yet shrouded beneath a flimsy veneer of authority is a gross overestimation of ability and overcompensation of might to mask his own deficiencies. Isolated within a self-imposed power vacuum, he gradually suffocates from the lack of respect, love, and confidence. Thrashing about, starved of those key human necessities, he hurts people either directly or indirectly.
And so I say to the audience, to those of us still grounded with integrity, righteousness and dignity: We must use our platform, our voice, our power to speak against such dangers to society. Such naked displays of corrupt power must be fervently opposed and defeated – for our collective humanity demands it. It cries out for it. Corrupt power cannot be rewarded with indifference or silence because that is tantamount to complicity. Do not be complicit in your society’s demise. I implore you to embrace the mantle of righteous leadership in a time where there are far too many voids. Righteous leadership begs the ability to appeal to the intelligence, emotion and resolve of people – absent manipulative agitation and fear. So, what becomes of a child properly reared through adolescence to adulthood? Hopefully, they become the person I am speaking to now. Rise up!