Tuesday, August 3, 2010


As a boy growing up in the South, I was always intrigued by the well dressed men in my family. We lived in the country so I trip to town was like a mini vacation. I remember hitting main street, my brother and I, trailing behind our mother like "Just Married" cans. We would go to Vincent's Drug Store to get supplies for the medicine cabinet, or pick up grandma's "pressure" pills. If we were lucky, Momma would get a freshly squeezed cup of lemonade and share it with us. Mr Vincent, the pharmacist, was a nice man with snow white hair, and dark rimmed glasses. He always seem to be enjoying what he was doing behind the counter. We weren't sure what it was, but it sure was loud.
After we left the Drug Store, we would hit main street again, and head down to Allied. On the way, my brother and I would stop and beg momma to let us go back up the street first so that we could look inside of Ruth's Wardrobe Men Haberdashery. It was like a dreamland inside. The finest clothes we had ever seen danced in plate glass windows while grown men "dressed to the hilt" stood along the registers welcoming customers into the hall of clothing. They had suits in every color, purples, grays, greens, and navy, with the shoes to match. Hats, feathers out to the side, were lined at the top of each shelf hanging over the suits. When the front door would open, the sun would hit the display case just right, and the luster of gold and silver cuff links dazzled us like disco balls hanging over soul train lines. "Come on here", momma would yell. We would take off running like black comets behind her, settling into the reality of our Allied or B. C. Moore purchase. Our parents were together then, so our clothes were nice, but they weren't Ruth's.
Granddad seemed to have a style all is own; the older I got, I realized that Ruth's had a lot to do with it. We didn't have much, but the men in my family looked good when they stepped out with their families. Pictures of my Dad in the best looking suits filled the walls of my grandparents' house. Granddad told me that my dad won best-dressed all during high school. I could see that. Granddad and Grandma both dressed well, and maintained all of their children in the same way.
I told myself, one day, you too will have the best life has to offer. I too will be able to wear suits and step out looking as "sharp as a tack." The men in my family were not perfect by any means, but they taught me through their style that we had standards. Men in the Young family had standards, and we were expected to carry ourselves in a certain way. The standards in how I dressed helped me establish standards at schools, with choosing friends, and ultimately with living life. I miss the days of my childhood when there was no mistaking a man's man, and no mistaking a woman. I miss neighbors holding each other's kids accountable for the actions, and being accountable to each other. I miss the deference given to elders, familiar or strange. But most of all, I miss the sense of self that my family had. They loved themselves hard, and because of it, we knew we were loved wholly and without hesitation. We didn't expect it, but it was all we knew. It was the standard.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Double Standard"

This week has been a rough week at my office. About a month ago, I found out that another supervisor in a different department had his staff tracking my arrival and departure times. I was made aware of the issue by someone in his department that didn't think it was right, and that also felt I was being targeted because I'm African American. (It's important to note that I am one of the highest ranking African Americans in my organization.) In any event, I decided to take my complaint to my managers. At first, I felt that I had their support; however, upon speaking with them after they had a chance to confront this other supervisor, I realized that they were scared of this other supervisor because of what they perceived as his "influence" on other high ranking members of our organization.

They met and they discussed my arrival and departure times in my office; he then showed them a log of my time. It was evident that my actual times didn't match my office hours. This was no surprise to me, nor should it have been a surprise to my manager as I told her that I had adjusted my schedule during the week to accommodate my morning drop-off schedule for my children. I had no excuse for the weekend hours; I was just being sloppy. I had fallen into a valley of tardiness per my weekday schedule that I had unjustly applied to my weekend schedule. Somehow, my manager did not recall this conversation, nor did I have anything in writing to substantiate our exchange. (Folks, always Document! Document! Document!)

I continued to listen as my meeting become less about the unlawful targeted tracking of me, and more about my not adhering to my office hours. At this point, I pointed out how no other supervisor on my level was held accountable for keeping their office hours exactly the same, including my managers. I then began to show them documentation I had to support my statements; they then became very defensive and tense. The next statement they made was that I should not try to police anybody esle's office; however, as I stated, policing of my office by another office is exactly why we're here having this discussion. I went on to state that I believed it was unfair to have a rolling standard on what's expected of offices throughout our organization with the same function based on their location.

I continued with my protest and stated that by being targeted to be tracked exclusively, the aforementioned offending supervisor had created a hostile work environment for me, violating EEOE mandates, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by creating a discriminatory effect in the tracking itself, as the only difference between my office and other offices with the same function in our organization is that my office is ran by an African American, me. This lends itself to establish the validity of my complaints for the above reasons mention on the basis of my race.

At the end of the meeting, I was broken, though not visibly. I was just tired of fighting for equal treatment and respect. I was tired of having to justify actions exhibited by me that mirrored their on actions that needed no explanation. I was tired of trying to prove my point, and accepted the fact that we are not in a post-racial Obama nation society; race still mattered very much, and double standards will always exist between white and black folk because some folk still have a sense of entitlement that their skin has given them, and a superiority complex falsely formed by a series of societal missteps. It angered me to my core; my soul shuttered as I thought of my own sons growing up having to deal with this bull. I decided to do my best not to give them a reason, and start arriving at my scheduled office time on the weekends, and arrive consistently during the weekdays after my drop-offs are complete. I accept responsibility for my faults in this situation; however, I don't accept the acceptance of such a despicable showing of bigotry or of it being embraced and covered by my managers. I don't accept the double standard, and have vowed to do everything in my power to initiate its demise. I strongly suggest you all do the same.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Review of Swiss Army 3.4 oz spray TESTER for men by Swiss Army

Smells of Summer

By Blackspeare the Poet from Fort Mill, SC on 5/6/2010


5out of 5

Gift: No

Pros: Draws Compliments, Great Smell, Long-Lasting, Great Value, Clean & Fresh

Best Uses: Daily Use

Describe Yourself: Classic Style

Fragrance Type: Fresh/Aquatic, Citrus/Fruity

I love Swiss Army; I smelled it on another guy and felt weird asking him what he was wearing but I had too because it was different. Now my brother is wearing Swiss Army because of me. I was walking in the mall and an older woman walked past with her husband, stopped and grabbed my arm to ask what I was wearing. She then said to her husband, "that's what you're getting for Christmas."


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wisdom Obtained: 33 Years Old

I was struck by this picture of a survivor of the Russian subway car that was attacked by a militant suicide bomber. As I looked at this man, injured but not broken, and very much alive, it reminded me of my own life and how it correlates to the upcoming Easter Celebration and my birthday on April 5, 2010. Throughout life, we all have survived some bomber attacks that have left us emotionally, physically, or mentally injured, but we survived. We are here, alive, and not broken.

As Easter and my birthday approaches, I started to think about the age of Jesus when he was crucified, 33, and my pending 33rd birthday. I've come a long way from Cummings, South Carolina, and have morphed into a man (some would say "young man") that's only a shell of his past self. A reflection in mirrored reality to those who knew me then, and a bitting picture of reality to those who have grown to love me now. I've always had a lot to say. As I've matured, I find solace and resolution in listening more than speaking. I still struggle to find meaning, relevance, and purpose. To know that Jesus was on purpose, consistent, enlightened, and prepared for death at 33 is daunting. He was brave, honorable, humble, intelligent, kind, meek, loving, giving, and fair. He willingly accepted his purpose and call at 33 years of old. As we all strive to emulate his life, and to be better people, we must ask ourselves whether we know who were are, and are we mature enough to embrace a destiny or purpose because it's necessary, not popular.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"The Constitution as a Weapon"

I believe it's dangerous to hypothesize on the intent of the "Foundering Fathers". It's unfortunate that many of the diatribes concerning individual rights, as outlined in the constitution, come on the heels of an African American President. As a historian by degree, in my studies I've found that bigotry often is masked in pseudo concern for literal interpretation of the constitution. As I listen to Glenn Beck, or Fox News in general, ranting about the constitution, I wonder where they concerns were when the former President initiated unlawful wiretaps, and established the Patriot Act, which caused the most erosion of US citizens' rights to date. I wonder where the analyse of individual rights and lives were when we were bamboozled into the Iraqi War. Now, lets bring it home, for that matter, where was all of this discussion about the intent of the foundering fathers, and alienable rights when the citizens of New Orleans were displaced, discounted, and disgarded? There was no discussion of their alienable rights; the main right in the wake of Katrina was simply their right to life. But there was no discussion because their was no concern.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The "skinny" on Credit Scores

I was very surprised at the number of people completely oblivious to their financial standing. During my 6 years in banking, I learned that people were more concerned with their monthly payment than the interest they were paying. It was not until they were shown the amount of money wasted because of their interest rates due to their credit scores that light bulbs went off. How to fix their current standing soon became their top priority.

After being shown their afflictions, and given information on how to resolve their credit issues, most people are receptive and jump at the chance to walk in the path of the credit savvy. Credit Scores are simple to understand and follow when broken down into the subgroups that comprise the Fair IIsaac Corporation (FICO) score. I'm a believer when it comes to the financial knowledge of guru Suze Orman; however, an article by Lee Ann Obringer at Money.Howstuffworks.com gives a great breakdown of the components of a FICO score. The FICO can range from 300-850 approximately. The actual formula to determine a score is owed by Fair Issac. The following in the breakdown of a credit score:

-35 % is based on payment history.
-30% is based on outstanding debt.
-15% is based on the amount of time you've had the credit line.
-10% is based on new credit lines opened; new credit negatively affects scores for a short time.
It also takes into account hard and soft inquiries, or companies looking at your credit score
as well as you personally looking at your score. When done within close proximity of
each other, hard inquiries count as one. Soft inquires, or you checking your score does
not affect your FICO.
-10% is based on the types of credit lines that you have, revolving (credit cards),
and installment loans (fix monthly payments). (http://www.money.howstuffworks.com/, How Credit Scores Work by Lee Ann Obringer, Feb 8, 2010)

When your parents told you to never pay any of your bills late, you should have listened to them, as 35% of the FICO score is determined by this factor. Stop focusing on payments, and start having discussions and thoughts on the real cost of items that you're purchasing or want to purchase. A good FICO score can be the difference between affording college tuition for your children, or passing debt onto them via student loans.

If your interested in learning more about all aspects of credit and how to make informed decisions regarding your finances, "The Young, Fabulous, and Broke" by Suze Orman is an excellent reference guide to assist you in that effort. Until next time good people, Hotep!