MY SON LIKES TRUCKS

My son is not quite two.  He plays the drums, the saxophone and the keyboard.  And if an ability to make a lot of noise is a measure for skill, he is gifted.  He enjoys eggs, singing Jingle Bells and chanting Mommy mommy mommy at obscene hours.  He hates when his hands are dirty.  He prefers Charlie Brown to Elmo.  He thinks fart noises are comedy gold.  And he loves, loves, loves playing with trucks.  He loves identifying trucks.  He loves saying the word ‘truck’.  His pronunciation is not so tight quite yet, so it sounds like he’s cussing but trucks are his jam.  I try my best to quiet my internal relief about that.  I never prayed that he would be drawn to blue things.  It was not my conscious desire that he be all snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.  I shrugged my shoulders when someone mistook him as a little girl in the airport. They apologized profusely as if I may have been insulted, as if I should have been insulted.  “I am so sorry!  It’s just…the braids, I thought…”  I was proud of my initial response.  I am proud of my parenting style and the way I refuse to place heavy value on some of the silly gender expectations we assign children. I looked at my beautiful baby boy and smiled.  I convinced myself that the haircut he got a month later was because I was tired of wrestling him to brush his hair and/or braid it and that it had nothing to do with people asking me when I was going to cut it and absolutely nothing to do with a stranger thinking he was a little girl.

 

I imagined myself being the type of parent who could buy their son an Easy Bake Oven and dare anybody to say anything about it.   But the truth is I am the type of parent that is relieved by their son’s interest in trucks.  I am not alarmed when he climbs the furniture and jumps off of it.  I tell him “you’re fine” when he stumbles and is trying to decide whether he should cry or keep playing. When someone says, “He is all boy ain’t he?” I am pleased.  It is my responsibility, to guide him towards being the person God has called him to be.  And I realized that I am really hoping he only stands out in ways that will make his life easier.  If he is smarter and faster and stronger than his peers, that would be better for him.  If he is the most prayerful or the most creative he could excel in ways that would benefit his life.  If he is unusual in the “wrong ways” it could make everything complicated.  He is Black and his mother is single. Those two things alone make him eligible for every negative statistic that exists.  I observed a mother describing her two year old Black son as soft when he would not stop crying.  “You soft water!  You so soft!”  I watched this same baby’s uncle snatch a guitar out of his hands and reprimand him for playing with a girl’s toy.  The guitar had pink designs on it.  In those moments I felt like I was witnessing a crime. A baby was being robbed of his right to emote and play freely.  Let’s meet up with this guy at twenty-two and see how well he manages interpersonal relationships.  Right there under the surface of my polite smile was hard judgment. I judged the entire family.  And as I traveled a little farther into myself I was able to understand.  Forgive us Father.  If fear and love are the only two motivating factors in any decision  a human can make, then fear is winning when it comes to parenting.

 

This is not an article about my son.  This is not even an article about subscribing to the Westernized ideals of femininity, masculinity and sexuality.  It is an article about being held hostage by our fears.  We are scared for our boys.   It would not be difficult for me to love my son if he wanted to wear pink and play with Barbie dolls like www.myprincessboy.com .  But it would be difficult for me to send him outside of our home knowing tolerance and understanding will not necessarily be waiting for him on the other side of the door.  It is difficult to leave him now.  Will his grandmother be as patient as I am when he throws a tantrum?  Will his daycare provider respond to his finicky eating with kindness and other options?  Will the children at the birthday party want to be his friend?  Will his teachers cater to his learning style? I want him to be favored.  I want him to be a leader.  I want him to be outstanding.  I want him to be loved.  I don’t want him to get hurt.   My “don’t wants” are so much louder. 

 

 I think I should be busy trying to create a world that is safer and more beautiful for every child instead of preparing my son for the world that actually exists.  I lean toward the latter in practice, the former in poetry.  I should do more.  I don’t know how.  Parents who discipline their sons for playing with toys that have glitter are not a part of my immediate circle.  But their children may be a part of my son’s.  I’m glad he likes trucks.  For now, it makes me feel a little less afraid.  But I promise not to ever snatch a pink guitar out of his hands.  Even if I kind of want to a little bit.

 

By: LYNNETTE JOHNSON
Twitter: @KnottyPoet IG:KnottyMama
@TheVSOPLife #AreYouVSOP

 

 

 

+1? 4Y!? (Plus One For Why?!)

So I’m reading this blog that I frequent, and one of the writers wrote a post about Netflix passwords. Within this Netflix password post, he starts with an anecdote about plus-one events like weddings (and eventually got to how sharing Netflix passwords with significant others is a thing, but then you gotta change the password when it’s over because the plus one on the password is no longer a plus one… really good stuff). Anyway, I couldn’t get my mind off of the plus one at a wedding. It was just a part of this writer’s set up, but it’s a common thing that people think and I can’t wrap my mind around it. Like, WHY would anybody feel the need for a plus one at a wedding?

Let’s break down what is happening in the scenario. In order to feel the need to have a plus one, said person is single. Not single like unmarried, this person is actually single. How do we know? We know because it’s a wedding, bro. I had the biggest wedding that I’ve ever been to. 250 invites that led to 220 attendees, and the guest list was a huge hassle! The wife and I fought over the guest list many a night. This means that lots of thought is put into the guest list, and everybody who is invited has been scrutinized. We see you when you’re sleeping, we know when you’re awake, we know if you live with your girl and if your relationship is serious (for goodness sake). If your relationship is serious, then two spots are saved with the quickness. If your situationship is NOT serious or if you’re not in a situationship, then you’re single, and you don’t get that plus one.

*SIDEBAR* Being that guest lists and weddings are generally on the small side, do you realize how important that invitation is? That invitation may say “You are cordially invited to blah blah blah” but what it really means is “Ay bruh, you are one of my closest MANS! You know, like REALLY important to me. Important enough that I’m gonna spend over 100 bucks on you to come eat and drink with me on the MOST IMPORTANT day of my life and all you gotta do is show up.” Do you non married people realize how dope that is? *SIDEBAR CLOSED*

Anyway, so now you’re a part of the chosen few. Keep in mind, each party only gets half of the guest list (anybody that knows me… do you realize how hard it was to limit my list to 125?!). Then the single people will send a text and ask “yo, bro… uh… what’s good with a plus 1?”. You wanna make somebody mad? Send THAT text to a person who decided you were worthy of being on their wedding guest list. That person already fought their fiancée to get you on the list last week, and didn’t get any sex as a result, and now you wanna ask for an additional person? C’mon son!

However, I get it. Society, magazines, TV, and movies make y’all feel like you need to bring a date. Fair enough. But again, let’s break this down. You’re going to celebrate a union of love between two people. Everyone loves that. The most thuggish dudes will look away during written vows to ensure that thug tear doesn’t soak his velvet suit. Everyone is smitten with love. That’s how weddings work. But have y’all not thought about who attends weddings? ALL OF THE BRIDE’S SINGLE FRIENDS! And while the thug is looking away, the brides friends said f*%k it and their brand new form fitting dress has tears soaking the straps of their halter top. Tears of happiness, and tears of yearning for THAT type of love. This is the beach, my friend. Why bring the sand?!

After the ceremony, there’s generally a cocktail hour with passed out hors d’oeuvres and free liquor. Think about this fellas. This is like the best supermarket run you’ve ever had. Instead of reaching for the same tomato and having to make small talk, you and a finely dressed lady that is still swooning over the love in the air, are reaching for the same bland stuffed mushroom plate and with an alcoholic drink in your hand and an automatic commonality that you both can easily bring up to break the ice. If that’s not a Chris Paul to Blake Griffin alley-oop, I don’t know what is. Additionally, you JUST started drinking so you still have your wits about you!

Still not convinced? Cool. Let’s play out the plus one scenario. You asked the baddest single woman you know to stunt on these hoes at the wedding. You pick her up and she looks like a Thanksgiving spread at Grandma’s crib. You’re hyped. You roll up there and help her out the car door (because you’re reading VSOP and you’re a gentleman #nshit). You roll up in the wedding with her on your arm. Every dude there gives the mandatory black man’s head nod. Every chick gives her and you the once over. You even see some eye rolls. You won! Then cocktail hour happens. You can’t really mingle how you wanted to because you have to introduce her to all your boys. You can’t meet anybody attractive cause that’s kinda disrespectful. You have to continually get up and get her drinks if she’s not very social, because she doesn’t know anybody there. You can only really dance with her all night because the other attractive women are swooped up by the real unattached guys there and they’re looking for love. Now you’re bored and as a result you drink too much and your date gets mad at you and now y’all gotta call an Uber and leave early. You just had a night of introductions and conversation with somebody you don’t really care ALL that much about. On top of that you heard rumors that one of the bride’s male friends dirty macked on her while you were getting her a drink and he bagged it. That night sounds like it sucks to me.

Furthermore, two months later, the two of you decide it’s not really working out. The sex got repetitive, the conversation was lacking, your friends don’t intermingle well, she’s a vegan and judges you for eating a steak, you prefer ESPN to episodes of The Bachelor, and you heard that she was seen at the movies with the bride’s friend from the wedding. Yup. Soak that in. So what did you actually do here? You just brought a random, who nobody will ever see or think about again, to the event that your good friend threw to celebrate the most important day of his life. You took pictures with said random that are in your friend’s wedding photo album FOREVER. That random took away a seat from another important person in your friend’s life, and it’s all for not. Thanks, homie.

So don’t be that guy. Don’t bring replaceable sand to the beach. Don’t ask for a plus one. You’re just causing damage. Embrace your single. Find your new queen (for the night) there. I’m not saying that this happened at my wedding or anything… but you MIGHT get lucky in the bridesmaid suite with one of the bride’s homies. Love is in the air, after all.

By: Doug R.

@wildmanjones

#AreYouVSOP

The Medium

According to dictionary.com, the definition of “medium” is as follows: 1. A middle state or condition; mean. 2.Something intermediate in nature or degree. There are about sixteen definitions for this word, but let’s focus on the first two as it applies to African American males in these United States of America. By now you’re probably wondering where could this possibly go, or what points are being brought up. Often times we as society tend to overlook or subconsciously not acknowledge the multiple identities of a person or a group of people. Society subconsciously or consciously, depending on who you’re talking to, depicts the African American experience in this country with only struggle/despair or living the lavish life of an entertainer/athlete, leaving no room for a “medium”. To go even further, society/media portrays the African American male experience as presented in two different lights; the successful athlete/entertainer or the drug dealer/gang-banger. Let’s categorize those “light” descriptions as “highs” and “lows”. The “high” would of course be the athlete/entertainer that promotes the lifestyle of money, sex, and drugs. Then it’s the “low” drug dealer/gang-banger  that lives the life of violence on their quest to money, sex, and drugs. But there has to be more to a black man’s life in America, right? Constantly, society feeds this dichotomous image of all black men that is absolutely inaccurate. If you are asking what are the inaccuracies, one would possible say the easier question is which one should we highlight first? (Yes, there are many.)

For the sake of an argument let’s start with examining the black man and the “medium” that is rarely highlighted for us. The images created by the media leaves those who are not familiar, or have limited interactions with black males in America as a “black” or “white,” good and bad perspective of these men. What about the gray area? There has to be some in between, right? As we examine the “medium,” a few questions come to mind. Mainly, where is the “medium”  for this African American man? What does that medium look like, and why doesn’t he have a voice?The “medium” black man is often forgotten in America. Rarely is there any recognition for his accomplishments or empathy for his struggles. However, there is constant attention given to his counterparts. Whether it’s the black male athlete/entertainer who is idolized for their glitz and glamour, or the drug dealer/gang banger that’s constantly in the newspaper or community doing something wrong.

When these are the two images that are constantly recognized by society rightly or wrongfully so, the idea of the “medium” tends to fade. Who is this “medium” black man you ask? The answer is quite simple. The medium black man is the man who wakes up every day and goes to work to provide for his family. The medium black man is the man who not only goes to college, but graduates. He is our pastor, lawyer, doctor, corrections officer, policeman, fireman, banker, social worker, teacher, principal and the successful business man all in our midst to be acknowledged. However, we rarely acknowledge him! Instead we constantly micro-aggressively compare him to his “high” and “low” counterparts. If he has an athletic stature we ask him why he isn’t playing a professional sport, or if he has a nice car, we automatically assume that he’s selling drugs or participating in illegal activities. Society loves to silence the medium black man and when he reacts we label him as angry. But why shouldn’t he be angry? He’s human too. He thinks, feels, and reacts the same way you do. Although the voice of the “medium” black man tends to be silenced at times, one could also say that he also allows his voice to be silenced. He chooses not to speak up due to the fear of being labeled. Instead he bottles it up inside and continues fighting the labels like the warrior he is. With everything that’s going on in society today, the voice of the “medium” black man is needed more than ever before.

Think about it, society fears you simply because they only know both extremes. Better yet, society knows the “highs” and are very familiar with them because of their fame. Society also knows that the “high”s have too much to lose. Which leaves society with what the media feeds them about the description of the “lows” and that’s who society fears. Because of your silence society  does not look at you for your degrees, they immediately lump you in with the “lows”. You have to speak up, make your presence felt. Let the world know that you exist and that this image they paint of you is false. Speak out on what you feel is wrong; don’t be defined by the transgressions of your counterparts. You are not a mythical creature that only exists in theory. You are real and you are in abundance. For the sake of the future, speak up because lives depend on it.

You Fit The Description

 

It was a sunny day during Memorial Day weekend on the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Now anyone that can relate to that time of year will instantly connect to the annual Black Bike Weekend that takes place down there. Thousands of people in one tourist area gather to show off their wheels, motorcycles and for other things to make your head turn.” I was with a group of my friends  taking a moment to unwind from our professional careers, congregated on a corner enjoying the view of beautiful women and perfect weather. It was all perfect, did not have to worry about writing reports or code switching, just a carefree atmosphere to allow my imagination to run. All was well until, I was approached by two police officers. Dressed in a long t-shirt, fitted hat, basketball shorts, Jordan sneakers and a gaudy chain I know I did not look like I was a college educated man (but what does that matter).

“Let me see your hands, and line up against the wall,” the officer shouted. In my militant but educated tone of voice, I responded to the officer asking him what the problem was. The officer began to explain that a call came in reporting that a group of black males that fit our description were soliciting narcotics in front of their store and demanded that we be removed. Now my first inclination was that there was no way I could allow this officer to search me, I did nothing and I had nothing on me that would compromise my future. However; I  still complied due to the possibilities of what could happen if I resisted. Visibly taken aback  by the accusations, the officer stated stoically “this is routine don’t make a fuss”. I immediately felt violated, infuriated and powerless all in the same moment. How can these two officers identify us accurately when everyone out there dressed very similar and fit that stereotypical description? I thought I said this in my head but somehow I blurted it out to the officers. The group of friends I was with began to argue with the police officers in my defense from a distance and refused  to keep quiet about the situation. By the grace of God, we were not shot, killed or arrested.

Let’s examine this issue more in depth. Social media has created more of a public outcry to address how police officers are conducting themselves when countless acts of injustice continue to arise. How many more black males will be gunned down in these streets by officers of the law before these issues receive the national justice that it deserves? Interesting question, however, I am not here to shed light on that question.

 

Stop Being Naïve

It’s no secret that there are still racist white males walking around with badges. Ignorance, hatred, and prejudice are everywhere and will forever be an issue in this world. There are wolves out there hunting in packs and they are looking for the perfect target. Who is the perfect target?

 

Who Fits the Description

We tend to flirt with the line of freedom of choice. How a person dresses, whether that individual wants to admit it or not, influences a person’s perception. Some people will even say “who am I to judge?” but subconsciously we all judge. Our common sense tells us when going to an interview to wear interview attire (one would hope most of us do). People at church always say, “come as you are,” but the majority of its attendees wear their Sunday’s best. When playing sports you put on certain clothing, equipment, and accessories to go along with your uniform. The same holds true when we are out in public. Police officers are targeting individuals that fit a certain description. Now whether or not media and other outlets provide that description for them is a post that will come at a later date. The way one dresses does not give a police officer the right to racially profile anyone, HOWEVER a shirt and tie rarely results in a police officer accusing a person of a crime. Again, to suggest that black males “dressed appropriately” are not profiled would be naive along of irresponsible of us to say. However; there is a quote that suggests that if you argue with a fool because from a distance you cannot identify who’s who. So do not perpetuate the stereotype.  Be intentional in your identity leave no room for mistaken identity or perceived intentions; don’t appear to be a threat.

 

Create Value for our Own Life

How do we expect authorities to value the human life when African American males are killing each other in record setting numbers? People will argue that the police should be held to a different accountability, because they are sworn to protect and serve. Well I don’t fully agree with that because as human beings it’s never okay to murder anyone whether you are a police officer or a civilian. As a black man in America it’s difficult to wage war against the police when there is war in my own community and most victims are not written in the obituary section of the newspaper because of the actions of police officers. There is value in the belief that police officers should be taught more preventative measures  instead of reactionary.

 

Comply With the Officer

We need to educate our children and adolescents how to interact with the police. We need to understand their boundaries as police officers by understanding the law. In addition, the way we communicate, whether verbally or physically can dictate the actions of the officer.  It is never ok to sass, resist, assault or threaten a police officer because you will lose that battle 100% of the time. Yes, you need to know your rights and what can/cannot be done; however all of that goes out the “window” if your are resisting.

 

Social Media

Learn the facts of a case, instead of believing  everything you see on social media. We all see a lot of videos of occurrences, shootings and other negative perceptions of what we think happened. Before we draw a conclusion of said occurrences, ask yourself if you were a police officer how do you think you would handle situations and circumstances that arise in your community. Would you trust every person that you pull over? Would you be comfortable observing someone reaching for something in a dark alley when you are only trying to question them?
Now I know there is someone that is reading this that is saying that “this sounds compromising” and that’s fine. However, I am simply a man that has a family and I believe love conquers all. I will never advocate for hate of any kind and profiling. In the same thought, all cops cannot be made out to be the bad person; it is just as wrong as being profiled for simply being a black male. Being a police officer is a job that many of us do not understand. People put their lives on the line daily. Just like everything that is meant for good in this world, the devil has infiltrated many police organizations.

V.S.OP Guide To Business Casual

So your boss emails you an invite to a special event and at the bottom of the email in bold letters calls for business casual attire. The first thing that comes to mind is what is “business casual”? There are many interpretations on the business casual dress code, making it hard to pinpoint exactly what it is. Honestly, there is no definite answer as to what it really is. Ito keep things simple it’s what you already wear on a typical day at the office.  Here are a few tips to picking out a stylish, professional, and comfortable business casual outfit brought to you by CHADRAN STYLES!

 

 

The Suit

This look is perfect for the “after business hours social gathering” you want your presence to speak volumes about who you are at all times. The reputation that comes along with wearing a nice tailored suit is “all business” no “play”. Wearing the suit without the tie says  “I’m a professional who knows how to be comfortable while having fun”. So relax and do not let your long work day take over your appearance (oh and the half done tie is a bad idea; it just looks like stress).

Wear: A coordinating suit & button down.

Tip: Look professional, but not too corporate. Wearing a suit and losing the tie (a really nice shirt always helps the cause). Whatever you do make sure the jacket and pants match. Please do not mix match suit jackets and pants. It’s just silly looking 😉

 

Lose The Jacket

Take the jacket off; especially if you have a “patterned” styled shirt. Let your sense of style show. Do not be confined by your jacket; loosen up, let some air in. Oh yeah, please don’t forget to match your belt with your shoes.

Wear: Button down & dress pants.

 

 

The Office Polo

This is a simple look you can do on casual Fridays or to a company cookout/social gathering. The message you want to relay is that your “comfortable but still professional”.

Wear: Polo shirt & dress pants.

Tip: Keep in mind the way the fabric looks and feels when wearing polos. Jersey knit polos are the type that you want to wear for business casual, they are very soft and smooth to the touch.

 

The Vest

This look allows you to be trendy and semi-professional at the same time. With every style, confidence is required. Remember, the way you present yourself is the way you will be treated. So straighten out that posture and greet everyone with a smile and firm grip.

Wear: Vest, button down & khakis/dress pants.

Tip: Get a pair of khakis that are flat-front for a clean, fitted look.

 

The Sweater

As the weather gets cooler, this look allows you to be versatile in business casual settings. You have the choice of putting a tie on underneath the sweater or wearing it as is.

Wear: v-neck sweater, button down & khakis/dress pants

Tip: The collar should be deep enough to expose some shirt, but not too much. When paired with a firm-collar dress shirt, it flatters every face

 

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Basic Rules For The Business Casual Dress Code

 

  • Iron your clothes I can not stress this enough, nothing says unprofessional/ I couldn’t care less about my appearance more than wrinkled clothing. Fellas if you don’t know how to iron, your mother, girlfriend or local dry cleaners would love to do it for you. There are even tutorials on YouTube, learn it, master it, apply it.

 

  • Your shoes should be conservative and clean, This means no sneakers or those run over church shoes in the back of your closets. Ladies aren’t the only ones who check your shoe game, in fact it’s one of the first things people look at. So keep it classy with a pair of modern polished loafers, they are sure to anchor any outfit with easy sophistication.

 

  • Your hair should be neat & presentable. Make sure you are clean shaven Go out and get an edge up or fresh a cut and if you have dreads make sure they are re-twisted & pulled back from your face.

 

  • Keep your accessories to a minimum. Lose the earring(s), keep the watch.

 

I Don’t Need A Mentor

The most common mistake that young professionals make upon entering a workforce is assuming that the knowledge that they acquire in school both (both in and out of the classroom) is enough to deem them successful in their first job. From the growing number of degree holding professionals seeking employment and the limited number of jobs, we know that this is not true. There are many factors outside of the dichotomous experience of college (academic & practical) that determine your success as a young professional, some that you might have control of and some you may not even be aware of.

As young professionals we come into our new industries believing that we have been equipped with all the tools that it takes to become an effective professional because of what we learned in school. What we do not realize is that we have been taught to use so many different tools to make us successful in the field that we may not necessarily know how to appropriately use or master any one becoming as the saying goes a “jack of all trades but a master of none”. The tools that we have acquired through the education process are usually surface level and in a hypothetical setting so the experience has some value but not as rich as a professional who is immersed into the work. Over the span of  four to seven years of higher education (undergraduate and graduate) learning we are introduced to concepts and theories but there are many experiences that are outside the world of academia that can only be taught through experience. Although, internships, co-ops, practicums and fieldwork serve as great additions to the classroom experience there is still something to be said about a full-time professional who has experienced the full gamut of the position and field that you are in.

So how does one fully gain advantage in such a tough economic climate? Simple, mentorship! Well maybe not simple but it is definitely easier than struggling or being stuck in your entry level  or current position. It is said that young professionals who have mentors are more likely to succeed in their industry as opposed to those who do not. Realistically, that kind of makes sense, right? Think of mentorship as professional parenting. The role of most parents is to make sure that their children have a guided but not restricted experience throughout life. The parent serves as a resource for the child to tap into when they face dilemmas or difficult decision making situations. The ideal parent allows their child to make mistakes but still advises and shields them from the dangers of the world. In event that the child’s parents does not have the answers or advice that the child needs the parent may tap into a larger resource which is the familiar structure (grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins) to find the appropriate answers. Think of mentorship the same way! Having a mentor allows you to not only get one on one advice and guidance but it grants you the opportunity to tap into your mentors professional network so that you can have your questions answered or be advised in the right direction.

Even though its ideal to have a mentor, the whole process of acquiring one can be very intimidating. We’ve made a “how-to” list which, will serve as a guide as you begin to seek a suitable mentor:

1. Identifying a desirable mentor
2. Approaching your possible mentor
3. Create a plan with your mentor
4. Scheduling frequent meetings
5. Asking for new challenges/ways to grow

Be on the look out as we begin to break down each component of our list to fully equip you in your quest for mentorship. Share your thoughts on the benefits of having a mentor or your personal stories highlighting your personal journey in receiving mentorship in your professional lives.

Now there’s only one question #AreYouVSOP?

 

ADAM WHERE ARE THOU

[So He looked down from high as He waited for Adam to appear, so they could continue with their daily fellowship, praise and worship. But Adam never showed up. He sat waiting patiently, marveling at all of His creations, thinking to Himself and saying, “I can’t wait to show him my latest creation for him to rule and have dominion over.” However, Adam never showed up. The wind blew across the ocean and the sun smiled at the earth. As He laid on a pillow of clouds, whistling at the blue sky, He rested patiently waiting for Adam. But Adam never showed up. After basking in His heavenly ambiance for a spell, He arose and stepped down from on high and went foresting through the garden, looking for Adam as He called out, “Adam oh Adam, where art thou??” The crickets responded, the birds continued chirping, the bees flew around pollinating, and the waterfalls continued to trickle down, landing in the pond, completing the harmonic symphony of the garden. Yet still, Adam was nowhere to be found. An uneasy emptiness in the midst of His spirit began to churn as treason flowed through the core of His love for Adam’s presence and adornment. He could feel the disturbance of betrayal, heartbreak and fear as Adam suddenly appeared. Naked and terribly afraid, he spoke, “Here I am. I know that I’m not where I’m supposed to be. But I only took my eyes off of you for a few seconds Lord and…well, now I’m confused and lost. Father, where am I?”]

A man is born, he is raised, he is called, he reaps what he sows and then he dies. Each stage of a male’s life cannot be escaped; it is just how life is meant to be. Somehow, one would think that these killings of black men are not meant to be; but yet, they are happening. So what about the process are we missing? Let’s examine the supposed process:

1. A MANCHILD is born ready to learn and absorb every aspect his culture has to offer him. His sponge like mind forces him take in information, whether it is deemed good or bad. From the moment his eyes are opened, to his first steps, the child is looking to be lead and emulate what he sees. When you came into the house drunk and swearing, he processed that. While nodding your head as you listened to that song with the explicit lyrics, he watched and nodded too. When you thought he wasn’t watching, he took mental notes, waiting for one day to do what he saw, making daddy proud. What happens when daddy is not there and the environment raises a child? Growing up in inner city communities, a lot of our children fail to understand the consequences of their decisions. All they know is what they see. Most young black males marvel at the luxuries money can provide while being driven by the need to obtain fast cash by any means. They sit back in admiration while studying the males that have the money to obtain fresh “kicks”, nice clothes, jewelry, nice “whips”, and of course, attract the opposite sex. Drug dealers, pimps, criminals and their surrounding peers are making money as their adolescent hunger increases, which ultimately lead them to feast in the devil’s kitchen. These are the men that are directly influencing and raising our children from a distance. Our children need men of honor raising and leading them so that when they grow old they will not stray. Adam where art thou?

2. Look outside your window and these Young Men represent something greater than their harsh reality. They are so proud and organized. They are future successful businessmen working their way up the ranks. Structure is in place; leaders emerge, managers building teams, accountants that handle the banking administration, and workers processing their day-to-day assignments. These individuals have political influence, international connections and respect for the rules and regulations of operations. Instilled with military value and tactics they are prepared to serve and protect their territory. The only problem is, they are gang affiliated and participating in illegal activities, laundering money, distributing drugs, guns and narcotics to their own communities. Creating genocide in the streets that they call home, they have great and powerful minds with the wrong business plan. Possessing excellent sales and marketing strategies, but servicing the wrong product. Proactively increasing their network and connections, but with the wrong leaders and administrations. Traveling from city to city around the world, you would think they were studying abroad. Most importantly, the brotherhood, bond and pride for their organization supersede the love and loyalty they have for their own children, parents and family. So, Adam I ask you again, Adam where art thou? (I don’t get this)

3. Wherever a lustful, deceitful, ratchet and sexually explicit woman is, so will follow the Growing Man of our generation. A man who is in the process of experiencing what it means to be a GROWN MAN, but is not quite there yet. His mind is hazy and filled with uncertainty. It’s so easy to be distracted as a man in life when there are so many avenues; from fulfillment in our career, to the media, female exploitation causes man to fall further away from his true destination. Heavily influenced by provocative photos of video vixens that aspire to make a come up these days, we continue to be deceived by her sexiness. While you are making it rain in the strip club, or surrounding yourself with attention seeking vixens in music videos, you’re empowering the rise of the lust goddess. You pimp her, you throw your shallow animalistic perceptions, disguised as dollar bills at her. You mentally and physically abuse her, enabling and enslaving her as if this lifestyle is acceptable. So she continues to adapt and she raises the next generation of men. She was our gift and you failed at your chance to educate and teach her who she is and why she is so valuable to our existence. She’s lonely and lost without you. Adam where art thou?

4. You replaced the shackles and chains with prison bars, stripes and a number. You are a GROWN MAN that is now considered state property. Your hand is pressed on a glass window as you look at your son or daughter in the eye with your ear pressed to the receiver, to tell them you love them and you are sorry you missed his or her 5th birthday. You promised them that you would be a better person when you returned, but how? Your growth has been stunted; you only know how to be the man you were before you went in. So an overworked, physically tired, heartbroken mother walks in holding her babies, leaves and goes home only to lay with an abusive poor representation of a positive male role model. So you return to your child whom is now growing not knowing how to effectively be a GROWN MAN. Rather than accept the challenge, you return to sit in your cell with your hands on your face, dying in the years with quality father time as it continues to pass by. Why is it that prisons are overpopulated with African American males? They all had the opportunity to make a conscious choice to achieve something that their ancestors sacrificed their lives to have. Instead of hosting graduation parties for college graduates, the whole neighborhood gets together for a cookout and after party when Dope Boy gets out of prison? We always seem to have bail money, but seldom have money for college tuition. GROWN MAN, when will you realize you turned your back on your ordained destination? To be a KING. This was the life you chose; instead, an 8X12 box is your throne. Adam, where art thou?

5. Finally and most importantly, take me to my leader. Where are the ELDERS that we were always told to respect? Who’s ready to stand up in our community to lead a fallen generation to the mountaintop? What happened to the church community and power that was led by men to address issues that impact our communities? The churches have fallen to corruption, greed, political influence and false prophets whose lifestyle contradicts one of a shepherd. All behaviors that have driven away new souls for God. The heart of the community lies within the church, but somehow the church doesn’t exist; just a business with a cross as its logo. Who’s ready to return back to their father and restore our rightful place in the Garden of Eden? We were made to worship Him and bask in the fluorescent breeze of peace and prosperity. But when the church doors open you’re still at home in a drunken state of mind. Adam where art thou?

[Your child is looking out the window waiting for you to come home from work. Your daughter is waiting to feel the true unconditional love from her first male example. Your son is waiting to make you proud and is aspiring to be just like you. Your woman needs her king to lead her into a flourishing prosperous life filled with love, honor, and protection. Your community needs a leader to combat the evil that floods our streets with lies, corruption, and false representation of our true existence. Everything that was promised to us awaits in the distance, while the clouds pass through the sky and the ocean continues to roar. Tears continue to fall from heart broken faces waiting in a distance while God opens his arms gazing into the valley sitting patiently for you to return. But you never showed up. ADAM where are you?]

 

V.S.OP Guide to Suits Pt.1

In this competitive job market the slightest detail may be the difference between landing or losing a job. First impressions leave a lasting impression with that said; presentation is everything! Before you are even allowed to say a word you are being analyzed from the color of your suit to the way it fits. In every setting it is the #OpulentWay to make your presence felt. Whether you’re in the board room or enjoying your time at the local happy hour it is important to always exude class and confidence. Here’s Our official guide on mastering the suit: the styles you need, the fit you want and some tips & tricks on how to put it all together by CHADRAN STYLES. So, Its Just One Question #AreYouVSOP

 

1. Your socks should be long enough that there’s no exposed leg when sitting down.

Socks do way more than just keep your feet warm, they’re a great way to pull your overall look together. Match your socks with your button up or tie, or go fun and funky for a casual look. Go with bold patterns, unique color combinations or festive socks to highlight your personality. Step out of your comfort zone and let your style shine through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Double vents located in the back are both modern & fashionable.

This look is practical and flattering on larger figures, yes big boys are stylish too. So cut those threads and be free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Sleeve cuffs should be exposed about half an inch.

Think of that inch as your measure of attaining success; you’re that close from being where you want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Always unbutton your suit before sitting down, or you’ll risk ruining it.

The material of the jacket will pull, causing your jacket to lose shape. Plus your posture and presence will just scream #Opulence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Your tie should always be darker than your dress shirt.

A lot of men get this one wrong in attempt of being fashion forward. At the end of the day confidence is key in wearing anything; however there’s your way and the right way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Your tie should BARELY reach the waistband of your trousers, or slightly shorter.

Yes, length matters: When standing, the tip of the tie should fall within the button of your trousers. Presentation is everything, and nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” more than a very short or overly long tie. Your presence should say I’ve been here before while your actions scream I’m hungry for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Your belt should be fairly thin & the same color as your shoes.

There is major flexibility to this rule. Have fun and play around with belts with texture, patterns and color. Just don’t wear a brown belt with black shoes, or vice versa and you should be fine. Let your creativity shine through, just remember there is a time to be creative and a time to be professional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living with a purpose

Young professionals face a number of different challenges in their journey. Whether it is trying to establish a family, career or just figuring out who you are, it is inevitable that you will be challenged. You get one chance at life, so live it to the best of your abilities and most importantly, treat each day as an opportunity to define your legacy. When you leave this earth you will not be defined by the kind of car you drove, the clothes you wore, or how much money was in your bank account; but rather, the impact that you had on those around you. Now please don’t get my wrong, I like nice clothes, I appreciate nice cars and I love money, so if you can acquire those things while living a fruitful and productive life, by all means please do so.

The first point that I want you to consider is that instant gratification only leads to temporary elation. Do not allow yourself to be tricked into taking the easy way out in your quest for success. We live in a society in which we are used to things readily available. Because of this, we can fall into the trap that success should come without struggle. This brings me to another rule to live by; things just don’t happen, people make things happen. If you want to become a doctor, a lawyer, a hair stylist, or a master electrician, you must be willing to put in the work in order to see that dream come true. You must be willing to go through some periods in life that are downright uncomfortable and lonely because you may have to give up some temporary things AND people in order to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself. You must get rid of the old way of thinking that good things come to those who wait and replace it with the notion that good things come to those who WORK. Anything worth having is worth working for, and if my talents, skills and dedication can’t get it for me, then I probably don’t need it. When you work meticulously to be a master of your craft then you position yourself to be lucky. Now I know that I may have thrown some of you for a loop, I just rambled on about not taking the easy way out, working hard to accomplish your goals and now I’m talking about luck? When I talk about luck, I am not talking about Mohegan Sun on a Friday night at the roulette table, but instead the words that were spoken by the Roman Philosopher and Politician, Seneca who stated that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. The truth of the matter is that we are never fully aware of when an opportunity is going to come our way, so we must always be on top of our game and prepared to show that we are worthy of what is put before us. So we’ve spoken a little bit about being the best that you can be as far as goal setting is concerned, however that is only half the battle. You have gotten where you are today because you have shown a willingness to work hard to achieve whatever personal goals you want to achieve. Now comes the fun part, going out into the world and making things happen. Each person in the world has something to contribute, whether good or bad, whether big or small, we all make a contribution to society as a whole. The challenge is to identify what you are currently contributing to society and to assess if your contribution is having the impact that you want it to have. You should know what your best is and you should know what your limitations are, if you allow society to determine these things for you, you are bound to be lost, unsatisfied, angry, depressed and unproductive. Here are three things to consider as you attempt to fulfill your purpose in life

 

  1. See thing as they are but not worse than they are– simply put be real with yourself and those that are looking to you for guidance, when placed in a situation it is important to view it at face value. Over exaggeration is not necessary, never make a situation more than it needs to be. You will spend your entire life putting out fires so don’t add unnecessary drama to any circumstance that you are facing.

  2. Have a true and genuine care for the well being of others– part of your charge moving forward is to help improve the quality of life for all humans, not just for yourself. In your pursuit of the “American Dream”, carve out some time to serve your community in some way, shape or form. I have come to realize that I have gained a greater sense of my purpose in life and career interests through the work that I have done for and with others.

  3. Identify one thing that you are really good at and become great at it- We live in a world where many people are ‘Jacks of all trades and masters of nothing”. Instead, identify something that you truly want to be great at and seek out opportunities to build your skill set in that area.

These are just a few steps to consider as you establish yourself and your purpose in life. Stay tuned for our next installment of Around the Water Cooler. Be blessed!

WHAT IS YOUR MISSION

 

-In My Humble Opinion

 

Is It Picture Perfect (Do It For The Likes)

With the endless advancements in technology and social networking it’s become easier to lose sight of our true identities. Social media allows its users to mask their insecurities and depression with the click of a button! However; while we are posting pictures for social validation, a piece of our self esteem is being uploaded and exposed to open criticism. For some folks relevance and purpose to society can truly become based on the number of followers, likes & re-post they receive. With each post to social media we become hyper detached from human interaction and immersed in digital criticisms.
Studies have shown that the rate of depression and anxiety have risen in the age of social media. This is 100% contradictory (give or take a few bitter scorn men/women post and subliminal) to what we’re bombarded with on a daily basis from our timelines. Its become a trend I like to call the “For The Likes” (FTL) competition. Now the competition is simple and we’ve all been a participant at one point whether you want to admit it or not. I thought it’d be fun to examine some of the top ten categories of #FTL posts and explain my logic for this designation, so here we go:

10- The “exotic meal or just a meal that most do not usually indulge in” post.

Okay here’s the caveat, maybe these folks are genuinely trying to put their followers up on game for a surprisingly good meal OR just intending to diminish the domesticated image of themselves and build up this culturally refined image through #foodporn. Do not worry we are not judging we just admire your indulgence in the finest cuisine 😉

9- The vacation post or I’m going out of town post.
Simply a post to brag Im here and your not… It is almost a way to either let people know that you are always on the scene or enjoying an experience that most do not have the opportunity of enjoying. You mad or #Nah?

8- The transformation
From transformation Tuesday to throwback Thursday and even on occasions flashback Fridays, these post are usually very revealing or highlighting a personal journey that someone has gone through (most likely some weight loss or ugly duckling to bad bish). We believe that this post is the hardest post to decipher because some of you share great testimonials that can truly serve as inspiration, but then you have the “flaunters”. Y U No Humble?

7. I’m going to the gym
Just like the transformation post the gym post can be very hard to tell if its #FTL or if you’re really putting in work. However for most health crazed freaks progress is supposed to be noticed not displayed.. So all of you with the “I’m in the gym” post but still look the same, you’re clearly not NOT doing it for the likes.

6. Fashion post
ANNOYING. This post sometimes truly shows how people are being trendy and not really embodying the actual culture of their dress. Hypebeast around the world please don’t take offense.

5. Social justice frenzied topics
This by far is the most painful post. This usually happens with sensationalized deaths or socials injustices causing the masses to briefly go into a frenzy and taking their support to social media. Now nothing is wrong with this tactic but sometimes its hard to asses how genuine folks are and how committed to making change they are instead of attempting to appear socially aware. More over if this the call to action transcended into physically standing up for social injustices, It would be the 1960’s over again (sit in’s, protests, marches etc). Action speaks much louder than 140 characters ever will.

4. Posting of babies or baby pictures
Pardon my masculinity for a second but can we say adorable. Now there’s two kinds of baby posters (those by the child’s parents and the look at me with someone else’s child posters) Both of these post lend to the idea that hey I’m “ready for” or “great” with children, I’m such a catch! Parents we know that you are enjoying your children but posting pictures won’t get you kudos around here. For everyone else put that child who doesn’t belong to you down and get that phone out of their face, replace it with a book or a leap frog.

3. Thinking of him/her pics
This post is the only post that you will never actually see a physical person but just know her/him post are knee jerk reactions that are in direct correlation with those of you who are posting your relationships on social media. When you’re in a relationship all your single friends are having fun but, when you’re single multiply that previous feeling times 10 especially on those solo dolo nights. Sometimes the feeling is so intense that a phantom him is created in the hopes of getting the attention of someone else. In other instance a him/her really exist and it is imperative to let your followers know you’re thinking of them…. instead of using the same device you posted with to text them. OH

2. Inspirational Quote or song
These post certify that most people of social media world are either certified counselors or really going through it in life. Either way inspirational quotes that are not clichés are usually pretty dope. Affirmations and positive thinking is important for anyone who is either going through a hard time or making that transformation to a better person. It is amazing what a minor changes and positivity in your life can do for your mind body and spirit. However, when your routine selfie has nothing to do with the content of your quote you my friend are inspirational-ly doing it “FOR THE LIKES”.

1. THE Sexually Provocative Post
Originally known as a “Thirst Trap” (the act of setting a trap for an individual to comment or like a sexually enticing photo or quote) These post take the cake literally, when it comes to doing it #FTL. If you go on the various social media outlets you will see that there is an overwhelming amount of post with women either twerking or strategically displaying their best assets in order to catch the eye of the people who do not necessarily respect you. Realistically, what are you really trying to accomplish when you upload yourself to the world in such capacity. What can you possibly gain, an ig modeling contract? Ladies you are not the only ones who are guilty of thirst trapping men do it as well it just society tends to overlook it more than men (yes unfair) we know we’re equal opportunist here though so *Drops a judgmental glance* .

Let us know if we missed out on any other “For the Likes” post you’ve seen on your social networks.
Stay tuned for what we’ve got brewing we’ll drop and in case you don’t we’ll drop an #FTL to remind you! #AreYouVSOP