As the weather warms up, you may experience some unusual personal growth. As things begin to change, I try to reflect and express gratitude for those who have made a way and help me on my journey.
This post hits home for me in many ways because as a Black man living in a nation where minorities are still fighting for equality and basic human rights, I should do my part. It’s terrible that we're still having these conversations but it’s important to learn from history so we don't make the same mistakes.
As a minority, there are situations that may come up where I’ll feel uncomfortable or hypersensitive because I'm afraid of how I’ll be perceived. Black men are constantly given stereotypes like aggressive or misogynistic, and although sometimes we can be those things, that should never define us. Being misunderstood is something that we all struggle with but I work just as hard to work against. One of the ways I counter these stereotypes is through my individual style.
Getting dressed in the morning is more than just coming up with an outfit or trying to impress people. It’s a moment for me to take inventory of my life or how I plan to make the most out of the present. If you don't already know, I'm a Virgo and we're deep thinkers who analyze just about everything. So it's in my nature to set aside time and think about how my appearance represents my personality.
Another reason I take pride in what I wear is I would hate for someone to think I would cause harm or had malintent all because of my clothing. We’ve seen in America how the way you dress can easily put you in a sticky situation and that fear is something I carry with me. Ever since Trayvon Martin was shot, I knew I wanted to redefine how America thinks about Black men and why it’s important to look at yourself before taking a look at others.
For me, styling is my escape from discrimination and it allows me to explore my craft and how I can do better with the tools I have at my disposal. In sixth grade I won Mr. GQ and when I look back at that moment, I see how a young guy was able to send a positive message. One that could be controlled and understood by his peers. It taught me how much power and influence we all possess and how it can be used for a greater good.
What does your style do for you?