Making A Statement Using Fabric

ANGEL Angel1

Age: 29
Occupation: Self Employed/Full Time Medical Student/Mentor
Hometown: Baltimore

 

How long have you been designing?
4 years

What kind of women do you design for? How do you want women to feel in your clothes?

I design clothing for men and women. I design clothing based off the needs of my clients, if they are looking for trendy, traditional,high fashion, I pride myself on listening to my customers needs. I want my clients to feel like they are expressing themselves and feel confident in my items.

Angel4Who are some of your favorite designers?

Yves Saint Laurent, Roberto Cavalli

How would you describe your style? Angel3

I describe my personal style as artistic and without boundaries.

What motivated you to pursue this passion?

I have always loved fashion even as a child, I think that Tyra Banks motivated me to want to be the person who could allow the model to make a statement using fabric.

What is it like being a brown girl in the fashion industry?

Being a brown girl of different ethnic backgrounds and moral backgrounds has made it difficult. Being any kind of true artist you are never really understood for the craft that you love dearly. The journey has been difficult because of me majoring in the medical field. I have two skills that require a lot of my attention, which makes it hard on my social awareness scene. Thus its hard to attend events that could give me exposure so my marketing methods have to be a little more traditional then others. I think the most difficult part about finding support is finding genuine support. A lot of people in our era do not value the concept of continuous hard work so its difficult to find people with the same work ethics as you.

Where do you get your ideas on what styles to make? Where do you draw inspiration from?

I get my ideas from artists. I go to art galleries and sit with art students from across the United States and get a feel of what art is eye indulging. I am also a great fan of DIY projects.

Angel2What advice do you have for other girls who want to pursue designing as a career?

My advice is to learn about fashion, study your target, learn about being in business and always conduct yourself as a professional woman at all times. Integrity, consistency, and hard work is the key to success always.

Want to get in touch with Angel? Check out her Instagram @Aye_itsangel_, her LinkedIn: Angel King or her meet up page: Angel King!

 

As always, if you want to suggest a topic, wish to be featured or have any other feedback, feel free to contact me at raven.best5@gmail.com

 

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Proving Them All Wrong

DAVIAN davian3

Age: 21
Occupation: 1st Grade Teacher at Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School
Hometown: Washington, DC/Oxon Hill, MD

 

Life as a Black man in the U.S. has been a definite struggle but I would never change any part of who I am, even if it means that my life would be “easier.” Growing up in SouthEast DC, one of the poorest predominantly Black cities in the U.S. and moving to Prince George’s County, Maryland, one of the most affluent majority-Black counties in the country has come with it’s fair share of trials and tribulations. I love who I am. Where I come from. What I represent. But to some, who I am, where I come from, and what I represent does not sit well with them and they feel threatened by my mere existence. Stereotypes, judgements, perceptions. I would be a fool not acknowledge that Black men are targets for destruction in today’s society and the truth is being a black, Christian“gay” male doesn’t many things any easier for me. The intersection of these identities has presented a plethora of very unique and challenging experiences throughout my life. But I can’t help who I am or how other people judge me..and honestly, I couldn’t give a shit.

davian4Recently, it “seems” as though more and more black males have been the victim of senseless acts of violence, racism, and discrimination but this isn’t necessarily true. It isn’t that it’s happening more often, but more often it is coming to the light of public acknowledgement. It is sad to say that this is nothing new and to some it’s the norm. But why is this the case? You would think that after slavery was abolished nearly 150 years ago, the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago, and the election of this country’s FIRST Black president 6 years ago, that we would see progress. Indeed, some progress has been made but it has been very, very miniscule. The truth is…shit hasn’t changed.

Hearing stories like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Jonathan Ferrell, Eric Garner (the list goes on and on…and on) truly disgust me. Why am I still more likely to get pulled over? Why am I still more likely to get arrested? Why am I still more likely to serve more time in jail? Why am I still more likely to be shot and killed by an officer (a white officer)? It seems like no one can give me a true/valid answer. Nowadays, Cops are not shooting to wound or apprehend. They are shooting to KILL! Their force is excessive. Why? Because they are threatened. But why are they threatened? Because Black men are stereotypically labeled as aggressive, negligent, killing

machines. Black men are constantly demonized and criminalized. We are not provided the same opportunities as other men and when we are,Davian2 we have to fight for the leftovers.

Even after attending the University of Maryland, College Park, a mixing bowl of students of different races, ethnicities, nationalities, abilities, sexual orientations, backgrounds, lifestyles, etc. I could not forget that it is still a predominantly white institution. I truly enjoyed my experience there and the people I have met but I will never forget the subtle signs of racism, the stares when I was the only Black male in my engineering courses, the white female students who crossed the street when they saw me coming, the group of drunk white guys who didn’t think I heard them call me a nigga or a fag on the Quad. It could have been so easy for me to look down on white people as a group for the poor actions some of them have made but that wouldn’t make any sense. Just how all Black men should not be ridiculed for the poor actions that other Black have men have made (rape, murder, abuse, theft, etc.)

Last October, I joined the 2014 Teach For America DC Corps and I am currently a 1st grade teacher at Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School in SouthEast, DC. Of a staff of almost 50, I’m one of three males of color. In a field where white females are the majority and less than 2% of teachers in the U.S. are Black men, I feel even more marginalized. Black male over-representation in the U.S. prison system and under-representation in the U.S. school system has always been a painful nerve in the back of my head. But that makes my job so much more important for not only me but for my students. It’s important for my students (who are majority Black) to know that black men can be teachers. We are not all aggressive. We are not all gangbangers. We are not all drug dealers. We are not all NFL/NBA players. They all have a “choice” in what they want to be when they grow up but it will not be easy. They have to fight back. They have to advocate for themselves. But in a very proactive, productive, and non-violent way because if they choose the opposite, we will only be acting as the fools they predicted us to behave as.

davian1I know people didn’t expect me to make it this far. To make it past my teen years. To graduate from high school as Salutatorian. To attend a predominantly white university on a full ride and graduate on time. To start my master’s program in education at Johns Hopkins University. But that’s fine. I’m not going to stop until I get my PhD and become another black man who they address as “doctor”.

 

Want to reach out to Davian? Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @davey_divito or Email him at davianmorgan1@gmail.com

Having Pride in Your Own Path

JEAN-PAUL DSC_0071 2

Age: 25

Education: Associates in Health Science

Occupation: Bartender / Personal Trainer / Entrepreneur

 

My name is Jean-Paul. I am the eldest son of two on my mother’s side and the middle child on my father’s side. I have the best brothers and parents a young man could be blessed with. Born and raised in the eclectic, historic, forever growing city of Washington DC. Capital of our nation. 25 years old with endless possibilities to be reached in my lifetime.

In the process of coming into your own, you face the undeniable struggle of finding your way. You are handed some form of family and habitat at birth. You immediately begin to process information from all your experiences. I am sure that you can agree that your own experiences are unique only to you. Even if you have an   identical sibling, you are your own person. You have come to be who you are and how you think based on what you have learned and interpreted in your life. Naturally, you are predestined to fall in line with the people similar to you and have come before you. However, the future you choose will be the future of your own creation. You directly influence the situations and trials you come to face. We are all dealt our own hand in life, its up to you to take those cards and go for the win.

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 12.20.25 AMEveryone has a dream; A vision of pure bliss. As far as I am aware of, we all daydream about that perfect moment when you eventually become the individual you always envisioned on those morning commutes. Sometimes those thoughts are repetitive, and then other days they are different. The underlining theme of these broad fantasies of the future is that you are more likely than not, happy as fuck. The goals that drive me, that engulf my thoughts and control my morals are derived from me wanting be happy.

I want to be remembered for helping to make a difference to the people closest me; have financial stability and the scheduling freedom to enjoy all that I am passionate about. What are the goals that drive you? You see, I am the ruler of my own reality, as you are the ruler of your own reality.  The way I plan to live my life, might not be how you want to live yours. Just allow all things in your life to synchronize, seamlessly. It took a long time, but I eventually found that synchronicity after having dealt with my own trials.

We as young black men have a huge weight of expectations on our shoulders from birth. No matter what comes your way, just adapt and flow. Follow whatever it is that’s true to you. Go experience all that captures your gaze and imagination. As long as you are doing what makes you happy, or doing what’s necessary to achieve happiness, fuck everyone else’s opinion of what their view of great is. Become great in your eyes and the eyes of the people that mean most to you. That pride is the source of your drive. Doubt will only corrupt you. You want something, get the fuck up, and get it.

Second Chances

KOLAWOLE SOLOMON Instagram: execwalls

Age: 27
Occupation: Healthcare Administrator
Hometown: PG County, MD – by way of Nigeria

 

“I obsess over my own perfection, but is it possible that even in my imperfect form, I create the highest standard?” –K.S.F

 

It’s been told so often that I’m sure you’ve heard this story before. A group of young black males, late teens to mid-twenties, who aren’t used to having a lot – devise a quick plan in order to gain more. However, this plan, like so many others before it, forces these young men down the road to perdition – often called “the prison system.”

The year is 2005. After a string of armed robberies in Prince Georges County, Maryland – a group of young men conclude their night by robbing a Wendy’s fast food restaurant. This unfortunate event was witnessed by an undercover cop, which led to a high speed chase down a residential neighborhood. The young men are cornered by two squad cars on a one-way street.

After complying with instructions to turn off the engine of the car and toss the keys out of the window, via megaphone, the young men prepare themselves to surrender. Yet it seems that one of the two policemen still felt that deadly force was necessary in order to apprehend these young black men. The officer, by all accounts, proceeds to fire two shots directly at the vehicle, which prompted one of the young men to open fire at the officers in an attempt to save his own life by fleeing the scene.

 

That young man was Charles Vincent Cole, Inmate #336052 – a friend and a brother.

PROFILE PICTURE

Charles remained a fugitive for a few months, until officers were able to identify him with the help of statements given by his accomplices and other unrelated individuals seeking lesser jail time. He pled guilty to 3 of 32 charges and was sentenced to 25 years in a Maryland state prison.

I frequently reminisce on the events of that night, exploring how my own life could have easily traveled down the same road my brother’s had. I most likely would have been chilling with that group of men on that fateful evening had it not been for the fact that I had to work and was uninformed of the scheme until its aftermath. Maybe it was luck, maybe it was divine intervention – but whatever it was, it gave me a greater sense of purpose moving forward.

Within every human is a piece of ourselves.

The year is now 2014 and my life somehow mirrors Charles’ own. I have used my background in business administration to invest in and operate a boutique home health agency serving seniors in the DC area. I also run a website dedicated to my creative endeavors: photography, literature, and illustrations – which I also plan to make a business of. I workout at least 4 days a week and eat a lot healthier meals.  My mind is open and my views are liberal.

CHARLESA lot has been accomplished in the 9 years Charles has served. He has gained his GED, scoring so high that he was made the instructor of the GED prep course. He’s held a steady job in the prison kitchen, which has allowed him to make a few dollars as well as build himself from 150lbs to 225lbs. With the extra weight comes fitness – Charles leads a small fitness club within the prison, sharing workout techniques with other inmates. He’s also maintained good behavior throughout his incarceration, so much so that he is now housed in the “Honor Tier,” a section that offers a greater level of freedom and privilege.

Every visit I make to see my brother, I’m instead greeted by a new person, an improved man. I mean, dude even taught himself how to play acoustic guitar – a feat he would have never attempted a decade ago. Although neither of us is particularly religious, we both believe in the power of positive thinking. So you’ll never hear Charles complain about his situation or his past. He’s one of the most optimistic, forward-facing human beings I’ve ever known.

Charles is a living example that personal redemption is attainable for every man, woman, and child who seeks it.

Perspective dictates all. Therefore, our constant pursuit of self-improvement, regardless of circumstance, propels us closer towards our own level of perfection. I never have to say, “Free Charles Cole,” because he is a man whose mind has been freed a long time ago.

 

Follow Kolawole on Tumblr:  www.exec-walls.tumblr.com

Life As A Black Male

CHRISTOPHER  suited

Age: 22
Occupation: Field Coordinator
Education: Studied Government and Politics at the University of Maryland- College Park
Hometown: Hempstead, NY

Life as a Black male in America is honestly the most confusing experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love being Black. I love my heritage, I love my history, and I love the strength that it gives me. You would think there wouldn’t be much confusion there with all of that. But for me, the confusion really comes from so many external factors. Some argue that a true love of oneself is all they need to be successful. However, the outside forces that work against black males in America can be so strong, it’s frightening at times.

A clear example of this is the treatment of the black male in society, through the media, social institutions, and law enforcement. To our communities, Black Males are an important pillar of what makes them thrive. We are encouraged to make our contribution to our communities through hard work, leadership, and passing down lessons learned to the next generation of young black men. The issue here is that there are so many things that are stacked against us from doing that.

It is hard for us to obtain a good education because schools, especially in inner city communities, are ill equipped. It is hard for some black men to obtain the finances need to pursue higher education. In entertainment and the media, I find that black men are portrayed in very one-dimensional capacities. I also feel that many of the historical profiles of black men, such as the Sambo and the Brute, have been reformed and modernized to fit changes in society. Our entertainment, music, films, and television, has not progressed to the point where black males can escape the stereotypes that are often put upon them through these mediums.

on thee micOur struggles with law enforcement are well documented. Black males are egregiously over policed and incarcerated at rates higher than any other race. Black males are given longer sentences for lesser crimes. Even one encounter with the justice system can ruin a black man’s life chances. Police Departments across America, on multiple occasions, have used over-excessive force on black males. Some have which have resulted in loss of black male life.

These problems are not anything new. These are issues that our parents, grandparents, and beyond them have had to deal with growing up in this country. I said before that being a black male is this country is a very confusing experience. We are pulled in two very different directions in life. Black males spend most of their lives either working to assimilate themselves into American culture, to remove the fear that others have of us. Or, we spend it rebelling against the nation which has left subject to this mistreatment, often resorting to violence and lives of crime in order to succeed, because legitimate means do prove to be as fruitful. I often contemplate what I should do, especially in times like these.

I am even more confused by the fact that even though we black males do try and abide by society’s rules, we are often met with opposition with trying to do the right thing. We are simultaneously spurred to do right and do wrong based on our external environments. I pray that one day it gets better for us. I pray that one day my skin color will no longer be a threat some. I pray that I will be able to complete daily mundane tasks, such as going to the store or traveling to visit family, without being in fear of my life. I pray that one day, the mere presence of law enforcement will no longer be something that I fear or dread. I pray for the day where we will no longer have to deal with another Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Oscar Grant, and any other black life that were taken from us way too soon.

While I still remained confused about where we should go from here, I do know that we as black males must band together and remain extremely persistent as our forefathers have been. It may be the only way to obtain the results that we require.

 

Follow Christopher @brosephchillaxton2 on Instagram!