If there is one thing in this world I cannot live without, it’s probably witnessing a Black Man wearing a suit. As a woman who lives Fashion, it’s one of the most exhilarating feelings because there’s just something about melanin and tailored suiting that drives me insane. There’s just something about a tall dark skinned man in a Double Breasted Navy Suit that soothes my soul. I become energized: adrenaline starts rushing, butterflies form in my stomach, and a coy grin forms on my face. I wonder where this dapper individual is going, if he’s on his lunch break from his job at Credit Suisse, or if he’s heading to a networking event. I see my Black Man wearing a suit and it makes me happy.
For this particular project, I was inspired, by my own personal interest in Black Men, to implement a project addressing the controversial topics on being a Black Man in Corporate America. Neck Vests from designer, Jephri Sivad's, collection are advertised in the project as well. The project consists of a photo series accompanied by a promotional video (coming soon!).
First, I wanted to address the idea Black Men have to work twice as hard and perform twice as well as their fellow white peers. Black Men in the corporate realm deal with the pressure of having to excel to a higher degree compared to the masses and hold the burden of representing all Black Americans based off of racial status and pre-perceived judgments. Diversity is already lacking in the Corporate environment and having to work hard for recognition can become exhausting. There was a piece on Fortune.com, written by Ellen McGirt, addressing the scarcity of diversity in executive roles, the Black Man’s stance on racial politics and the pressures of representing African Americans in the work environment he faces on a daily basis. Black executives such as Bernard Tyson contributed their personal testimony for the article. Contributors discussed having to adjust their aura in the work environment: being cautious discussing racial politics with colleagues and not coming off as too threatening or intimidating. In the article, McGirt states, “While many black executives do their best to separate their professional skin from their human one, there are nearly constant reminders from the outside world that the two are the same.” This statement can address the idea of Black Men in Corporate America having to remain cognizant of their presence as a professional while simultaneously tackling the ‘Dress Code’ strategy topic.
The idea behind the Dress Code strategy, derived from the article Black Armour, is directed towards Black Men utilizing business casual and smart casual wear in order to divert negative perceptions. The author, David Yi, describes the strategy as a ‘conscious means of survival.’ A Black Man dressed down in casual wear (simple white tee-shirt and denim jeans) can be too intimidating to the non-Black individual. It may be too many anxious thoughts for an elderly white woman to witness a Black Man wearing a hoodie walking behind her after sunset. The strong presence of the Black Man proposes an unnecessary threat and it is recognized within our community. With all of the controversy with police brutality, it leaves Black Men no choice but to shield themselves. They have to protect themselves from the stereotype by dressing up just to walk outside; to let the outside world know “It’s okay, I won’t hurt you.” It’s very sad but reality.
As I said before, I idolize my Black Man. Black Men are the epitome of royalty. They are kings who take full responsibility and control of their kingdom. No matter what glances they receive when walking down their neighborhood street, what hidden racial jokes they have to brush off in the office, or having to work “twice as hard to get half as much,” they recognize their true worth. They understand this negative energy cannot stand in the way of them achieving prosperity. When I see my Black Man wearing a suit, I see success and triumph. So this photo series, entitled Black Tax, is dedicated to His Highness. It features three young gentlemen I admire. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading.
Subjects: CB (@C_J_Banks), Joshua (@mistajoseph), Teronse (@anteesocial.jay)
Photographer: Ryan McCaulsky (@ryanchristof)
Videographer: Karl Hanner
Stylist: Candace Rogers (@candace_rogue)
Art Director: Amanda Moore-Karim (@amandaluxe | @amandawantsmoore)