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2018-06-01 Essence

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TH
E
M
EN
’S
IS
SU
E
EASY, BREEZY
SUMMER
STYLE
Michael
B. Jordan
UP CLOSE AND
PERSONAL WITH
OUR FAVE BAE
55
SANDALS,
SHORTS,
SWIMWEAR
& MORE
SPECIAL REPORT
KEEPING
BLACK MEN
HEALTHY
JUNE 2018
HOW OUR
GUYS REALLY
FEEL ABOUT
THE #METOO
MOVEMENT
DARE TO
GO THERE!
SOLO TRIPS
TO ADD
TO YOUR
BUCKET LIST
MANAGE
YOUR
LOVE LIFE
LIKE A BOSS
p. 99
SIMULATION OF ACTUAL PRODUCT
RESULTS ON LASHES ENHANCED
WITH LASH INSERTS.
Maybelline.com
Give in to lash temptation.
6\YTVZ[HKKPJ[P]L]VS\TL
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NEW
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Our formula glides on and
builds with no overload.
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AFTER
Infused with
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#TOTALTEMPTATION
©2018 Maybelline LLC.
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DAY 3
Soak up every delicious second by capturing
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78
THE FIRE
NEXT TIME
Fresh of the Black Panther blitz,
boyfriend-in-our-heads Michael
B. Jordan pauses to dish on his
upcoming sci-fi scorcher, his
diversity demands and,
of course, his love of Black
women By Matthew A. Cherry
84
DAY TRIPPING
Malibu sets the perfect scene
for a fashionably romantic
interlude at the beach
90 A MAN’S
PLACE
Our West Coast editor, Regina
R. Robertson, joins Terry
Crews and Tony Porter in
a dialogue on the role and
responsibility of Black men on
the subject of sexual conduct
MICHAEL ROWE
94 NOT ALL
HEROES
WEAR CAPES
Writer Marjon Carlos
introduces us to winner Anthony
L. Williams and the other designing gents who secured the
top five spots on season six of
Project Runway All Stars
Cover Photography
by Michael Rowe
Michael B. Jordan wears
a Coach 1941 shirt, mesh
T-shirt and track pants,
Miansai “Anchor” necklace,
“Beacon Leather Cord” and
“Bare Wrap” bracelets,
Crown of Light
“Gladiator” diamond ring
and Nike “Air Max 90
Premium” sneakers.
For all styling information
and clothing details, see
Where to Buy.
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 9
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CONTENTS
Style
19 | TWINKLE TOES
Fantastic
warm-weather flats
22 | TRENDS
Sizzling shorts!
24 | STYLE YOUR GUY
Scene-stealer Winston Duke
on commanding attention
and being pretty hot in pink
26 | STREET STYLE
Echoing his
famous dad, It boy Christian
Combs forges his own path
with modeling and music
28 | DOPE STUFF ON MY DESK
Get BBQ-ready with these
delicious goodies
Beauty&Hair
31
31 | LIP SERVICE
Atlanta actress
Zazie Beetz showcases the
latest lip trends and gives
us her take on simplicity
38 | THE COMPACT
Zazie Beetz
puckers up.
What’s new
40 | GOTTA HAVE IT
Alluring
finds for the fellas
42 | RESPECT OUR ROOTS
Explore the connection
between braids and our
culture
Scene
49 | TWICE AS NICE
38
Check out the
latest tools and
products you can
use to beautify.
Meet
four ladies making a difference in R&B circles, plus
Ne-Yo drops some knowledge
Our resident Boss Bride
details how you can thrive
personally and professionally at the same time
56 | PATRIK’S PICKS
Adventures
from witty and daring souls
57 | BOOKS
105 | BEATING THE ODDS
Uncover the lost
words of Zora Neale Hurston
Championing wellness and
prevention for the brothers
Issues
59 | TEN THINGS WE’RE
TALKING ABOUT
Money&Power
63 | PARTY OF ONE
Solo Black
girl–friendly vacation spots
66 | LEADING AT WORK
How Lyft VP Kristina Omari
builds relationships on her
ride to success
12 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
Love&Life
99 | GO HARD AND GO HOME
In Every Issue
14
16
110
112
113
114
|
|
|
|
|
|
Let’s Talk
What’s on Your Mind
Horoscope
Crossword Puzzle
Where to Buy
On His Mind After years of
secrecy, esteemed journalist
Emil Wilbekin opens up
about sharing his truth with
his biggest supporter
B EE TZ, Y U LIA GORBACH EN KO. STILL, COU RTESY OF B R AN D.
With a
debut album, Chloe X Halle
Bailey lets us know there’s
really nothing to worry
about, plus Roland Buck III
plays a good son
52 | ENTERTAINMENT
LET’S TALK
BE THE EIC
OF YOUR
OWN LIFE
ver the 15 years I’ve worked at ESSENCE, I
have had the great pleasure and opportunity
to observe the plethora of talents Black
women bring to the table. I’ve enjoyed celebrating
your successes, ofering information and food for
thought, driving conversations and supporting your
dreams. As editor-in-chief of the magazine for the
past five years, I have appreciated every e-mail,
tweet, DM and phone call in support of the work we
do for you. (And yes, I’ve even appreciated those
occasions when you’ve shared your critiques too;
they have only made us better.)
Now I’m of to forge a new path, where I can
apply everything I’ve learned here with you to the
next part of my journey. It’s time for me to become
the EIC of my own life.
This will be the last month I will be writing to you
from this venerable platform. But rest assured, I will
continue to champion the causes we as Black women
care about, and will be cheering on all of you as you
pursue your own aspirations. One thing I’ve discovered during my time with you: We grow exponentially
when we recognize we have the power to create the
life we want, and act on it.
I would like you to know how grateful I am to all of
you for your encouragement and support. It has truly
been an honor and a privilege to spend these precious
moments with you. Onward!
Sincerely,
O
Twitter: @Vanessa_KDeLuca
Instagram: @vanessa_kdeluca
14 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
COLLECTOR’S EDITION
BLACK WOMEN
COLLECTOR’S EDITION
With Academy Award–nominated actress
Angela Bassett gracing its cover, ESSENCE
Black Women in Hollywood ($12.99, amazon
.com) is a visual chronicle of the intrepid strides
our actresses have made over the years. The
book features all the Oscar winners and nominees for Best
Actress and Best Supporting Actress and includes the
winners’ inspiring acceptance speeches.
in HOLLYWOOD
A SALUTE TO TRAILBLAZERS AT THE OSCARS
ESSENCE FESTIVAL 2018
Searching for the ultimate squad goals trip for
your crew? Look no further than the 2018
Essence Fest. We’re transforming this year’s Festival—taking
place July 5–8 in New Orleans—into a dream destination that
includes something for everyone, with a weekend full of music,
food, fashion, empowerment and more. From the free
daytime activities to our ticketed nightly concerts featuring
Janet Jackson and Queen Latifah, among others, you won’t
want to miss a moment. Learn more at EssenceFestival.com.
LOOK FOR THESE ICONS TO DISCOVER
DIGITAL CONTENT:
ESSENCE.COM
VIDEO
MICHAEL ROWE
VANESSA K. DE LUCA
MORE WAYS TO ENJOY ESSENCE
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FOR
OILY SKIN
WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND
WE LOVE HEARING FROM YOU!
KEEP SENDING US YOUR FEEDBACK ON ALL THINGS ESSENCE VIA FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM,
PINTEREST, TWITTER, E-MAIL, A LETTER IN THE MAIL OR ESSENCE.COM
YOUR TAKE ON THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE:
Yara
Shahidi
ON BEING YOUNG,
GIFTED AND
GROWN-ISH
SPRING
BEAUTY
BLISS!
WOW BROWS
BOLD LASHES
HEAT
PROTECTION
FOR YOUR
HAIR
#TAKINGTHELEAD
Perhaps “Dynamic Duos: Is a Business Partnership for You?” struck
a nerve. Our Twitter poll revealed that even under ideal circumstances, more than half of you would opt not to team up with family
and friends. Below are your top partner picks
STACEY
ABRAMS:
HER HISTORIC
RUN FOR
GOVERNOR
THE
VISIONARY
BEHIND
THE OBAMA
PRESIDENTIAL
CENTER
DOING
BUSINESS
WITH
FAMILY AND
FRIENDS:
FINDING
BALANCE
FROM
WITHIN
Your interview [“A Beautiful Mind”]
showcased that Yara Shahidi is
beautiful, talented and excellence at its
best. —Yvonne Mccrae via Facebook
CAN WE GET ALONG?
PROS & CONS
p. 67
VISIT ESSENCE.COM
APRIL 2018
Without a doubt Stacey Abrams’s bid
for governor [“Can She Turn a Red
State Blue?”] was my favorite article.
You’re inspiring lots of woman to run
for political oice. Great job,
ESSENCE! —@Wrrenzo via Twitter
CORRECTION
A RELATIVE
A FRIEND
NEITHER
HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU
#ESSENCEEats: Trying a
B-more candy apple
—@margaritasontherocks
#ESSENCETravels:
Exercising a morning ritual
in Bali —@deirdredares
55%
JOIN US!
Share your habits
and thoughts on events,
culture, style and new
products. Become an Insider
at ESSENCEINSIDERS.COM
Tell us what you think about
this issue. E-mail us at
letters@essence.com or
tag us on social media
@essence
CONTRIBUTORS
Matthew A. Cherry
(@MatthewACherry) is
one of our favorite
Black Twitter stars. It’s
why we tapped the pro
football player turned filmmaker and
writer to interview Michael B. Jordan
for “The Fire Next Time” (page 78).
Bonus: The Chicago native directed
Chloe x Halle’s video “Warrior.”
16 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
Janelle Harris
(@thegirlcanwrite) is a
journalist and editor
who tells stories about
the experiences and
diversities of Black folks. The
Pennsylvania-raised Lincoln University
alumna, aka The Write or Die Chick,
penned “Party of One” (page 63),
about the joys of solo travel.
Michael Rowe
(@michaelrowephoto)
is a celebrity and
beauty photographer
who has snapped pics
of many of the famous faces you
love, including Michael B. Jordan for
our cover story. The Jamaican-born
lensman splits his time between New
York City and Los Angeles.
INSTAG R AM , FROM LEF T: J EFFERY J U N ES/@J EFFRYJ U N ES; CRYSTAL CHAN NING; @ DEIRDREDARES .
CONTRIBUTORS , FROM LEF T: H UT TON SU PANCIC/G E T T Y IMAG ES; COU RTESY OF SU B J ECT (2).
We picked three favorites from the posts you shared on Instagram using
our hashtags #ESSENCEStyle, #ESSENCEEats and #ESSENCETravels
#ESSENCEStyle: Showing
off a casual lean in a power
suit —@multicoloreparis
18%
14%
BOTH
In “Can She Turn a Red State Blue?” [April 2018] we incorrectly noted that Wanda Mosley launched 1,000 Women
Strong. It is an initiative of Stacey Abrams’s campaign.
Mosley is a member of the coalition. We regret the error.
13%
1
2
4
PRO P ST YLIST, C HAN EL K EN N EB RE W
3
1. BILL BLASS
“Niki 15” slides, $245,
billblass.com.
2. MARC FISHER
“Gallary” flats,
$69, marcfisher
footwear.com.
3. ANN TAYLOR
rule slides, $118,
anntaylor.com.
4. BODEN
pom-pom sandals, $95,
bodenusa.com.
TWINKLE TOES
DITCH YOUR PLAIN-JANE FLIP-FLOPS FOR SOME
FOOTWEAR WITH PLENTY OF PERSONALITY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JON PATERSON | FASHION DIRECTOR: JULEE WILSON
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 19
STYLE : SUMMER ESSENTIALS
SLIDES
THAT
SHINE
3
2
1
These stunning
sandals make
a bold statement
without killing
your feet.
—JULEE WILSON, FASHION & BEAUTY
DIRECTOR
4
1. CHARLES & KEITH
tassel slides, $49,
charleskeith.com.
2. KATY PERRY
COLLECTIONS
“The Kenzie” sandals,
$109, katyperry
collections.com.
3. BANANA REPUBLIC
“Everyday” slides, $78,
bananarepublic.com.
4. ELOQUII
“Layla” sandals, $80,
eloquii.com.
20 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
THERE IS
SIMPLY
NOTHING
ELSE LIKE IT.
©Disney
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Try on Broadway’s First Snapchat Lens.
STYLE : TRENDS
THE
SHORT
END
VINCE CAMUTO
eyelet shorts, $119,
vincecamuto.com.
THE
INSPIRATION
GET A LEG UP ON
SUMMER FASHION WITH
THESE CHIC OPTIONS
BOOHOO.COM
lace appliqué
shorts, $20,
us.boohoo.com.
BY AVON DORSEY
MATTHEW WILLIAMSON
shorts, $279, yoox.com.
ESSENCE
August
1992
TOPSHOP
leather shorts, $190,
us.topshop.com.
UNIQLO X
TOMAS MAIER
“Chino Wide” shorts,
$30, uniqlo.com.
22 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
TIBI
sequin shorts,
$690, yoox
.com.
LULUS
“Let’s Explore” sage
tie-dye shorts, $44,
lulus.com.
CENTER IMAG E, COU RTESY OF ESSENCE ARCHIVES . PRODUCTS , COU RTESY OF B R AN DS .
DOUBLE
RAINBOUU
leopard-print poplin
shorts, $175,
net-a-porter.com.
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Hair shouldn’t be stressful or complicated,
so beauty guru, Charmaine Daudu shares
how she approaches her strands with joy and
freedom. After all, when you treat your tresses
with love, and the Maui Moisture Curl Quench +
Coconut Oil Collection, it will love you back!
&GUETKDG[QWTUVTCPFUV[NG
Charmaine: I’ve embraced and rocked my curls for a while,
but recently going “ginger” has added extra spice that
speaks so loudly to who I am. I’m wildly passionate, creative,
approachable and a free spirit.
9JCVKU[QWTVTGUUVTQWDNG!
Charmaine: I have low-density hair but I love big, wild, volume.
A lot of products can weigh down curls, leaving them crispy or greasy
looking which is a major no-no. I need lightweight products, like the
Curl Quench + Coconut Oil Collection since I’m a “wash & go” woman.
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Charmaine: My favorite would be the Curl Smoothie because
it hydrates and defines my curls, while still leaving my hair
soft to the touch and not weighed down. Of course,
hair that smells edible is also a lovely bonus!
STYLED BY: JOE STUCKEY
The hero ingredient in the
line is coconut oil so it
smells amazing!
This collection
has great slip
for detangling
MY HAIR SAYS I AM
FREE, ALIVE, STRONG
AND THAT I DON’T
TAKE MYSELF
TOO SERIOUSLY.
@Charmsie
Discover wholesome beauty for all hair types. Maui Moisture’s formulas start with aloe juice and coconut water.
All shampoo, conditioner and treatments are vegan and free from sulfates, gluten, paraben and silicone.
FIND THE COLLECTION THAT’S BEST FOR YOU NOW AT MAUIMOISTURE.COM
@mauimoisture #MauiMoisture
STYLE : MEN’S TRENDS
STYLE
YOUR GUY
PRIVÉ REVAUX
“The G.O.A.T”
polarized sunglasses,
$30, priverevaux.com.
WINSTON DUKE TALKS
ABOUT HIS CAREER
SUCCESS AND SHOWS
US HOW TO PERFECTLY
WEAR PINK
BY AVON DORSEY
PHOTOGRAPHY
BY MICHAEL ROWE
ZARA
“Bull Denim” shirt,
$46, zara.com.
HIS APPROACH TO FASHION:
“I try not to follow trends. I dress
for my body and my height. Also,
tailoring is key.”
HIS ADVICE FOR WOMEN ON
UPGRADING THEIR MAN’S
WARDROBE: “Never try to change
the person all at once; simply augment what’s already there. Compliments are also a must. My
girl better compliment me if
I’m wearing something new
for her. Ha ha!”
ON THE BLACK PANTHER
FILM AND THE NEW
AVENGERS PROJECT: “I’m
humbled by the reaction and
the fact that our movie has
grossed more than a billion dollars. It’s proof that diverse narratives are worthy of investment
and dissemination. The Avengers
combines all the best parts of
the previous franchises, including
Black Panther and Wakanda.”
OUBLIER COLLECTIVE shirt, $128, and pants, $238, oublier.us.
MR ETTIKA necklaces, $60–$65 each, and bracelets, $45–$65
each, mrettika.com. VERSACE watch, price upon request, versace
.com. NIKE sneakers, $180, nike.com. Ring, subject’s own.
24 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
MR ETTIKA
“Fresh Finds” bracelet (top),
$45, and “After Sunset”
bracelet, $45, mrettika.com.
TED
BAKER
“Procor”
chinos, $159,
tedbaker
.com/us.
ST YLING , AVON DORSE Y. GROOMING , RED
PHALLON/KEN BARBOZ A .COM . MANICU RE,
NET TIE DAVIS/KENBARBOZ A .COM .
WHAT THE 31-YEAR-OLD HAS
LEARNED FROM BLACK WOMEN:
“I was raised by my mother and my sister,
and I have learned how to be a real man
from their examples of strength, focus
and dedication. They also taught me
to challenge images and ideas of
toxic masculinity from an
early age. Everything
I am is a result of the
women in my life.”
STAFFORD
“Floral” tie
set, $40,
jcpenney
.com.
STYLE : STREET STYLE
It Boy
CHRISTIAN
COMBS
THE 20-YEAR-OLD MIGHT BE THE
SPITTING IMAGE OF HIS FAMOUS
FATHER (PSST! DIDDY), BUT HE’S
CREATING A MUSIC AND FASHION
EMPIRE ALL HIS OWN
DOLCE & GABBANA
leather-trimmed nylon holdall,
price upon request, mrporter.com.
BY JULEE WILSON
SO FRESH: “My personal style is classy, smooth
and comfortable. I love mixing casual staple
pieces with a street vibe. Grooming and jewelry
are two components that I also include.”
#LIFEGOALS
The Los Angeles resident
stays busy making music and
spending time with family.
OFF-WHITE
Low 3.0
sneakers, $610,
mrporter.com.
PERFECT
YOUR CRAFT.
ALWAYS KEEP
WORKING
AND NEVER
BE AFRAID TO
SPEAK UP.
WAVE WHISPERER: “I have a soft brush
gifted to me by CYN—an artist collective
group that I am part of—and use it several
times a day. I also brush with ice cold water
and do not use any product. I’m pretty natural
on the waves.”
DROP THE BEAT:
“Right now I am the
most excited about
sharing ongoing new
music with my fans.
I have been writing and recording
my own music since
2016, and letting the
world hear it now is so
special to me.”
ULTIMATE
SWAG
Combs on
the runway
at the Dolce
& Gabbana
Fall 2018
show.
A FUTURE IN FASHION DESIGN:
“I am learning from the greats in
the industry like my dad, D&G and
Tommy Hilfiger. Also I think modeling is preparing me for creating
my own line one day.”
26 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
SEAN JOHN
“Pez” Basquiat
denim jacket, $169,
macys.com.
FAMILY BIZ
Combs
(here with
his dad)
recently
debuted the
mixtape
“90’s Baby”
and a single
featuring
Chris
Brown.
CLOCK WISE FROM TOP RIG HT: COM BS , NIA JOI SPENCER (2); JOH N PARR A /
G E T T Y IMAG ES FOR RE VOLT M USIC CON FERENCE; JACOPO R AU LE /G E T T Y
IMAG ES . ALL PRODUCTS , COU RTESY OF B R AN DS .
KINGS OF CLOTHING: “My favorite designers
are Dapper Dan, Virgil Abloh of Off-White,
A$AP Rocky and Sean “Diddy” Combs. Dapper
Dan revolutionized urban fashion culture
by creating our own couture. To me, Virgil
Abloh is the modern Dapper Dan. He made
street style a trend. A$AP Rocky’s visions are
all based on [great] concepts, and through
the fashion pieces that he has collaborated
on I love to see what he’s thinking. And my
dad just brought comfort and being cleancut and smooth to another level.”
SARTORIAL
SON
The best style
advice he got
from his father
is, “Make sure
to have your
own personal
element in
your fashion.”
.
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*Colgate Total® toothpaste reduces bacteria on teeth, tongue, cheeks, and gums; helps prevent plaque
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©2018 Colgate-Palmolive Company
STYLE : MY FAVES
DOPE
STUFF
ON MY
DESK
BRING THE HEAT
AT YOUR NEXT BBQ
(AND BEYOND)
WITH THESE
SMOKING-HOT
FINDS
Check out the
Dope Stuff
on My Desk
video series on
ESSENCE.com.
3
2
1
4
Must - have!
BY JULEE WILSON
These sunnies
are fun, futuristic
and functional.
1. ILLESTEVA
Leonard II Mask sunglasses in Pink, $190,
illesteva.com.
6
7
2. JO MALONE LONDON
Tropical Cherimoya Cologne,
$140, 100 ml, jomalone.com.
It’s packed with
plant-based
superfoods such
as broccoli and
daikon radish.
5
5
8
4. BODY GLIDE
FOR HER
Anti Chafe &
Moisturizing
Balm, $10,
1.5 oz, body
glide.com.
5. ELEMIS
Superfood
Facial Oil, $55,
elemis.com.
9
6. SISLEY-PARIS
Phyto-Lip Twist Matte in
Ruby, $50, sisley-paris.com.
7. FATCO
Women’s Stank Stop
Deodorant, $12, 1 oz,
fatco.com.
8. ELOQUII
“Trini Fringe” sandals,
$100, eloquii.com.
9. SAN DIEGO
HAT CO.
UBV045 visor, $25,
sandiegohat.com.
28 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
Try this!
Twirl through the
summer in tasseladorned footwear.
PHOTOG R APHY, JON PATERSON . PROP ST YLIST, CHAN EL KEN N EB RE W. WIL SON , MAN FRED KOH .
3. MIELLE ORGANICS
Pomegranate &
Honey Illuminating
Face Lotion SPF 15,
$16, mielle
organics.com.
Why I love...
YES HONEY!
MOISTU RIZED,
H E A LT H Y,
HAI R.
cremeofnature.com
#HokedOnHoney
©2018 Beautyge Brands USA, Inc. All rights reserved.
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BEAUTY
LIP
SERVICE
ACTRESS ZAZIE BEETZ PUTS
HER BEST FACE FORWARD TO
SHOW US HOW TO ROCK THE
MOST ALLURING LIP TRENDS
AND SHARES HER REFRESHING
PERSPECTIVE ON BEAUTY
BY JULEE WILSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY YULIA GORBACHENKO
Two-Tone
Color blocking isn’t just for your
wardrobe. Double the fun by painting
your pout with two fabulous hues.
MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo
(on top) and Lady Danger
(on bottom).
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 31
BEAUTY : PERFECT POUT
Glitery
Light up your lips with a soft hue and a
generous amount of glitter. You’ll turn heads
and spark some dazzling conversations.
Pat McGrath Labs Lust 004 Flesh Lip Kit.
32 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
Ombré
Playing with subtle yet sexy
shades produces a marvelous
and mysterious effect. Whether
the gradient starts from the
corner of your lips or the center,
the technique is a must-try.
The Lip Bar Lipstick in Drama Queen.
Actress Zazie Beetz isn’t interested
in being done up all the time. There’s
no need. Her skin, her hair and, most
important, her spirit are stunning as
is. “I feel the most beautiful either
when I am naked in my home or
naked on the beach,” says Beetz,
who stars on FX’s Atlanta.
The 27-year-old’s wildly
wonderful natural hair and
minimalist approach are inspiring.
That lack of concern when it comes
to glam is a study in self-love and
self-acceptance—and we’re taking
notes. “I need to know that I am
okay in my body,” Beetz says.
“And I need to know that I can go
a week without wearing makeup
and feel like that’s enough. Feel
like I’m enough.”
But Beetz, who made her
superhero debut as Domino in
Deadpool 2 last month, still
appreciates the transformative
power of cosmetics. “It has
definitely changed how I express
myself,” she says. A few trips to
Sephora and a ton of free
products from various brands
have aided the native New Yorker
in her makeup exploration.
“Playing with makeup, clothing
and hair isn’t for everybody. But
for me, it’s validated because I
am okay with how I wake up in
the morning,” says Beetz.
What a truly beautiful way to
start the day.
»
BEAUTY : PERFECT POUT
Golden
Just a touch of radiance goes a long
way. Delicately trace the crest of your
lips—aka Cupid’s bow—to create an
exquisite metallic look.
Bobbi Brown Crushed Lipstick in Bare and
The Lip Bar Lipstick in Everything.
34 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
#GirlsNightOut
2018 Explorer. Always unstoppable.
From dusk till dawn.
3
AT-HOME
SLAY
Achieving
straight-outof-the-salon hair
at home is nearly
impossible. But Cantu
is here to help. The
beloved hair care brand
has debuted TXTR. by
Cantu (pronounced texture).
The collection is formulated
with nourishing vitamins, extracts
and essential oils specifically for
our curls, waves and coils. With
four products each, the two lines,
Sleek and Treat, are free of sulfates,
parabens, silicones and mineral oils.
“With two paths consumers are able to
decide if it’s time to soften and sculpt their
curls or waves with Sleek, or restore their
strands and nourish their scalp with Treat,”
Melissa Cantey, Cantu’s education and communication manager, tells ESSENCE.
2
ELO Sangria Lip Balm
($13, elolipcare.com).
SKIN SAVIOR
If you aren’t already using a
toner, let this be your call to
action. Thayers’ new Coconut
Water Witch Hazel Toner helps
reduce inflammation and restore
pH balance to your skin. The
certified-organic witch hazel
cleanses, while the coconut water
hydrates and increases collagen.
THAYERS Alcohol-Free Coconut
Water Witch Hazel Toner
($11, Whole Foods Market).
MOVING ON UP
Byredo (one of our
favorite fragrance
companies) has teamed
up with Virgil Abloh, creative director of Off-White
and artistic director of Louis
Vuitton menswear, to craft a
lovely violet-and-jasmine–infused
perfume called Elevator Music.
“We wanted the scent to play a background to one’s life, much like literal
elevator music,” Abloh explained in a press
release. The collabo also includes a line of
handbags, a hair perfume and a hand cream.
4
MAGIC
WASHING WAND
5
Take your skin care routine to
the next level with PMD’s latest
launch: the Clean brush. The sleek
battery-operated device is made
of ultrahygienic silicone and boasts
four customizable speeds that deliver
7,000 vibrations per minute. Your skin
gets a deep clean, and the ridges on
the back of the brush can be used
to apply your go-to serum.
PMD Clean brush ($99,
pmdbeauty.com).
BYREDO X OFF-WHITE Elevator Music Limited Edition
Bucket Bag and Eau de Parfum ($990 and $275, byredo.com).
38 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
Follow ESSENCE Fashion & Beauty
Director Julee Wilson @MISSJULEE.
T X TR . BY C ANTU: PHOTOG R APHY, JON PATERSON . PROP ST YLIST, CHAN EL KEN N EB RE W.
MODEL, ESTROP/G ET T Y IMAG ES . PRODUCTS , COU RTESY OF BR AN DS .
TXTR. BY CANTU Sleek and Treat products ($10 each, ulta.com).
LUSTROUS LIPS
Remember when we used
to hoard tons of flavored lip
glosses? Well, after discovering eLo
lip balms, we’re feeling a bit nostalgic
(in the most sophisticated way). The
Black-owned biz creates luxe organic lip
balms that are free of wax and dyes and
are made with yummy real fruit like blood
orange, raspberry and pineapple.
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Foaming Body
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CLARISONIC
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POLISHED
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Oil-Free Moisturizer
SPF 30 ($35, polished
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ACQUA DI PARMA
Colonia Pura Eau de
Cologne ($155, 3.4 oz,
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REDKEN BREWS
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L’OCCITANE
Cade Shaving Cream
($29, usa.loccitane.com).
Self-care for men has
always been important.
Now we have access to even
more amazing products.
—AVON DORSEY, CONTRIBUTING FASHION ASSISTANT
40 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
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RESPECT
OUR ROOTS
EXPERTS EXPLAIN THE TANGLED
HISTORY OF BRAIDS IN OUR CULTURE
AND CONFIRM THAT THEY WILL ALWAYS
BE MORE THAN JUST A HAIRSTYLE
BY SIRAAD DIRSHE
ILLUSTRATION BY GERREL SAUNDERS
42 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
African women have
a rich history in
terms of the ways
they adorn their hair.”
—ZINGA A. FRASER,
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR,
BROOKLYN COLLEGE
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: JOHN WARBURTON-LEE/GETTY IMAGES; ERIC LAFFORGUE/ART IN ALL OF US/CORBIS VIA GETTY
IMAGES; ERIC LAFFORGUE/ART IN ALL OF US/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES; TREVOR COLE/BARCROFT IMAGES/BARCROFT
MEDIA VIA GETTY IMAGES; VERONIQUE DURRUTY/GAMMA-RAPHO VIA GETTY IMAGES; DEAGOSTINI/GETTY IMAGES.
A SISTERHOOD
Getting braids—single plaits, cornrows
or any style that weaves together
three strands of hair—is a rite of
passage for many Black women in
America. Who can remember
spending hours as a child sitting on
the floor between a loved one’s legs
as your tresses were carefully
intertwined? And today as adults
many of us frequent salons for more
expertly crafted masterpieces.
However, unlike a lot of our popular
styles, such as finger waves and rod
sets, braids are more than mere
aesthetics. They bind us together.
They are an integral part of Black
culture—past, present and future.
ANCESTRAL ROOTS
The discovery of ancient stone
paintings depicting women with
cornrows in North Africa shows that
braids date back thousands of years. In
their earliest known forms on the
continent, the styles had a duality of
purpose: Not only did they uphold
societal customs, but they were also
fashionable. “African women have a
rich history in terms of the ways they
adorn their hair,” says Zinga A. Fraser,
Ph.D., an assistant professor at
Brooklyn College. A specific look could
indicate the clan you belonged to, your
marital status or your age. For example,
a traditional style symbolizing heritage
for the Fula women of the Sahel region
consisted of five long braids down the
back with a small tuft of hair gathered
at the top of the crown. Hairstyles
were passed down through the
matriarchs of
BR
each generaAI
tion—from grandDS
mother to mother to
IN
TH
daughter. The Fula
E
women also went to great
M
OT
lengths to present their hair
HE
beautifully. Silver and amber discs
RL
accessorized their shoulder-length
A
N
braids. “These styles were like neat
D
headpieces, worn down the middle of
the forehead—regal-like,” says Tamara
Albertini, owner of the braid studio
heads of the
Ancestral Strands in Brooklyn. The
women in a
dichotomy between tradition and
brutal attempt to
artistry existed in perfect harmony
strip them of their
until the start of the transatlantic
humanity and culture.
slave trade in the fifteenth century.
Perhaps colonizers recognized the significance of the
A NEW WORLD, A NEW MEANING
elaborate strands. In any case,
According to Fraser, it’s impossible to
they sought to take away the
understand the history of braids, and
women’s lifeline to their homeland.
Black American hair culture in general,
As the women endured the rigors
without looking at the impact of
of slavery in America, braids became
slavery on African women. In addition
more functional. “In a system [in
to the physical and psychological
which they] were just trying to stay
trauma it caused, an erasure occurred,
alive, there wasn’t time to make
she says. Before the captured boarded
intricate styles,” says Lori L. Tharps,
the slave ships, traickers shaved the
an associate professor at Temple
University and the coauthor of Hair
Story: Untangling the Roots of Black
Hair in America. Sunday, which
BEFORE becoming deeply
provided a slight reprieve from the
entrenched in Black American
culture, braids were worn by African
torturous conditions, was the only
women for centuries. Here, a
day the women had to prep their
selection of traditional styles from
locks. “[So] braiding becomes a
the continent: (Clockwise from the
practical thing,” adds Fraser.
top left) A Dassanech girl does her
“[Hairstyles needed to] last an entire
sister’s hair in Ethiopia’s Omo Delta;
week.” Without time, resources or
an Afar girl with microbraids poses
for a stunning portrait; an Oromo
products, African-American women
woman wears braids in Ethiopia;
took to wearing their tresses in a
after puberty Ovahimban young
more simplistic fashion. The women
women don beautiful red ochre–
chose easier-to-manage styles, like
dyed hair; a young woman uses
single plaits, and used oils they had
amber accessories in her plaits; this
Fula woman of Burkina Faso
on hand, such as kerosene, to
decorates her locks with discs.
condition them.
»
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 43
ADVERTISEMENT
A DAY IN
THE LIFE:
The Travelista
It’s a big, beautiful world and you are going to see it all! But when you’re globetrotting,
you’ve only got so much room in your suitcase. So, check out these hair must-haves that
go the extra mile for your natural texture when you travel.
1
2
1. MORNING | ADVENTURE
Greet the day with a sense of
excitement, not bed head. Use a
nourishing styler that won’t get
sticky when you go swimming,
like Design Essentials Curl
Defining Gelée. Tresses will stay
frizz-free with a shiny, soft finish
for a great wash-and-go look.
2. NOON | RECONNECT
Making time for yourself is
essential when vacationing.
Find a picturesque spot to
reflect and rebalance. As you
relax, add Cantu Grow Strong
Strengthening Treatment
to your locks. It helps to stop
breakage and encourages growth
for stronger, healthier hair.
3. NIGHT | INDULGE
After being in the sun, hydrate
locks to replenish and maintain
hair’s natural balance. Carol’s
Daughter Black Vanilla Pure
Hair Oil is perfect as a preshampoo treatment to moisturize
while adding shine, so strands are
renewed and ready for a night out.
3
Find your favorite brands and shop the best products for your hair type, plus find style inspiration
and more at Amazon’s new Textures & Hues shop: amazon.com/textures-hues
ĖČĒď đĂ ĕđĒďĂĐ
ĖČĒď ąĒĂĐ
þĉ ĉ ąĂ ďĂ
ÄãéçäÙêØÞãÜÖìÝäáÚãÚììÖî
éäèÝäåÛäçîäêçÝÖÞçéîåÚ
ÖâÖïäãØäâ—éÚíéêçÚè’ÝêÚè
HAIR : BRAIDS
In a system of
slavery [in which] the
women were just trying to
stay alive, there wasn’t time
to make intricate styles.”
PL
AI
TS
FO
—LORI L. THARPS,
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR,
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
R
However, Emancipation in 1865
brought about a longing to leave all
things reminiscent of that horrific
time behind. As Black women
flocked to cities like Chicago and
New York during the Great Migration
and took jobs as domestics (one of
the few positions available to them),
braids soon became synonymous
with backwardness. For some, plaits
and cornrows were traded in for
chemically straightened or pressed
tresses. “A braid was a sign of
unsophistication, a downgrade
of [a Black woman’s] image,”
TH
Tharps says. AfricanE
CU
American women
LT
wanted to look
UR
citified. With
E
STRONG
feelings of
Afrocentrism in
the sixties and
seventies sparked a
braid revolution among
Black women. Celebrities
made a statement with their styles:
(Clockwise from top left) A model
strikes a pose in the April 1974 issue
of ESSENCE; Susan L. Taylor,
ESSENCE editor emerita, wears her
signature 1970’s-inspired cornrows;
actress Cicely Tyson rocks a beautiful
cornrow beehive; singer and jazz
pianist Nina Simone sports a
braided crown in the December 1970
issue of ESSENCE; singer Patrice
Rushen’s knockout look is timeless.
their newfound freedom, many
chose to assimilate, and straight
styles became the norm.
SAYING IT LOUD
It wasn’t until the Black Power
Movement of the 1960’s that our
perception of our hair began to shift.
The movement airmed us and
rejected the Eurocentric framework of
beauty. Black Americans were developing a deep desire to honor our African
roots, and our styles du jour reflected
that. “In the 1970’s braiding one’s hair on
intricate levels was very much connected
to [the practices in] Senegal and
Nigeria,” says Fraser. In the 1972
Depression-era movie Sounder, a young
Cicely Tyson sported cornrows and a
head scarf. During the promotion of the
Oscar-nominated film, she wore upward
and crisscrossed gravity-defying braids
that hovered around her crown. The
actress donned a similarly iconic look on
a Jet magazine cover. Throughout the
1970’s and 1980’s, other stars like singer
Patrice Rushen wore braids on the red
carpet and during performances.
Rushen often adorned hers with beads.
CLOCK WISE FROM TOP LEF T: COU RTESY OF ESSENCE ARCHIVES (3);
MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/G E T T Y IMAG ES; HARRY L ANG DON/G E T T Y IMAG ES .
Braids also served another purpose:
They became a secret messaging
system for slaves to communicate with
one another underneath their masters’
noses. Tharps explains that “people
would use braids as a map to freedom.”
For instance, the number of plaits worn
could indicate how many roads people
needed to walk or where to meet
someone to escape bondage. Despite
the immense diiculties they faced
during slavery, African-American
women did their best to hold
on to the ancestral
tradition of wearing
meticulously
braided styles.
Alicia
Keys further
commercialized
the idea that you could
be a successful artist with
braids. That was big!”
CLOCK WISE FROM TOP LEF T: JASON L AVERIS/FILM MAGIC; DANA EDELSON/N BC/N BCU PHOTO BAN K VIA
G E T T Y IMAG ES; KE VIN MA ZU R / WIREIMAG E; AR AYA DIA Z /G E T T Y IMAG ES; PAU L B ERG EN/REDFERNS .
—VERNON FRANÇOIS,
CELEBRITY HAIRSTYLIST AND COFOUNDER
OF VERNON FRANÇOIS HAIR CARE
Over the years braids became an
outward expression of self-acceptance
and self-love. And it was only a matter of
time before others noticed. Ironically,
Whites—the people who represent a
culture that for centuries has imposed
its ideal of beauty on us—began to wear
the styles of our ancestors. Despite the
fact that naturally straight hair is not as
adaptable for braids, the women were
called beautiful and cutting-edge. This
was cultural appropriation at work. Yet
while they were lauded, countless
braid-wearing Black women like cashier
Cheryl Tatum and telephone operator
Sydney M. Boone faced negative
responses: In the 1980’s one was fired
and the other forced to wear a wig
because their hairstyles violated their
company’s dress code. Unbelievably, we
are still fighting the same battle today.
Just last year Destiny Tompkins, a
former Banana Republic employee, was
told by her manager that her box braids
were unprofessional.
MAINSTREAM MAGIC
Nevertheless, as hip-hop became the
standard of pop culture cool in the 1990’s
and early 2000’s, braids reigned with our
female artists on the big and small
screens and in music videos. Janet
Jackson made waist-length box braids
TR
ES
SE
S
O
F
ST
Y
LE
HIP-HOP
AN
took braids to
D
the mainstream,
SU
where they still
BS
remain. The biggest
TA
singers, rappers and
NC
actresses made the style a part
E
of their signature look. Artists like
illustrator Gerrel Saunders, who
created the opening art for this feature,
began to highlight braids in their pieces.
her [look in
Here are some stars from then and now:
the early
(Clockwise from the top) Actress and
2000’s], it was a
activist Yara Shahidi proudly wears braids
in the press room; during her 2016 SNL
really big deal. She
performance, Solange dons a braided
[further] commercialized
piece of art crafted by Shani Crowe; Janet
the idea that you could be a
Jackson’s waist-length box braids will
successful artist with braids.” In
forever be an important moment on the
2016 Beyoncé paid homage to our
Black hair culture timeline; singer Justine
Skye keeps her hairdo fun with purpleheritage by wearing traditional doublecolored tresses; long cornrows became
row Fulani braids in her groundbreaking
singer Alicia Keys’s signature style after
“Formation” video.
her debut album, Songs in A Minor.
famous in the 1993 flick Poetic Justice.
Who can forget Brandy’s braids in the
video for her smash debut single, “I
Wanna Be Down”? She later wore them
on her sitcom, Moesha, which ran from
1996 to 2001, and in the video for her
1998 number one crossover hit, “Have
You Ever?” Celebrity hairstylist Vernon
François believes that braids reached
new heights during this period—punctuated by Alicia Keys’s stepping onto the
scene: “When Alicia Keys came out with
Regardless of popularity, braids are an
inextricable part of Black culture. We have
carried these styles with us throughout
history—from Africa to southern plantations to northern inner-city salons and
beyond—even when our natural beauty
was not acknowledged and with the
plethora of hairstyle choices available to us.
From generation to generation, not only do
we proudly opt to wear our braids, but we
also reclaim them—time and time again—as
our birthright and that of our ancestors.
º
—Additional reporting by Rachel Williams
and Hope Wright
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 47
TWICE
AS NICE
LIKE THEIR DEBUT ALBUM TITLE,
CHLOE AND HALLE ARE ALL RIGHT
ROB IN HARPER
BY ELONA JONES
C
hloe and Halle Bailey show us how to trust in our own magic, because they fearlessly trust in theirs. The experimental R&B singer–songwriter sisters—whose stage name is stylized as Chloe x Halle—dropped their first album, The
Kids Are Alright, in March. The two wrote and executive-produced every song, creating sonic love letters to the
world—and themselves—in the process. “It’s a mantra of positivity,” Halle says of the album’s title. “No matter the trials and
tribulations life puts us through, we are going to be all right.” The message is further explored on the title track, which gives
a shout-out to their “genius generation,” whose innovative ideas are ready to transform the world.
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 49
SCENE : SPOTLIGHT
From left:
Chloe x Halle sitting with Beyoncé in
“Lemonade”; posing for the
cover of the debut album
The Kids Are Alright; performing at the ESSENCE
Black Women in Hollywood
Awards; and acting in a
scene from grown-ish.
Being able to
work with
Beyoncé is a dream
come true. She
encourages us to be
as creative and free
as we can.
GOLDEN
CHILD
including Queen Bey herself. Soon afterward she signed the
self-taught musicians to her company, Parkwood Entertainment. “Being able to work with Beyoncé is such a dream come
true,” says Halle. “She has always encouraged us to stay true to
our art and be as creative and free as we can.” Before their
full-length album, the sisters put out the projects The Two of
Us and Sugar Symphony. Each work highlighted the things that
made us first take notice: confidence, complex melodies,
soaring vocals and eclectic grooves.
In Chloe x Halle’s music video “Drop,” from Sugar
Symphony, there’s a moment when the singers are visually
one, connected by their dreads. The Atlanta-raised talents
look powerful, sure of their abundance individually but still
choosing to join forces to reach a higher artistic plane.
“When you know someone’s heart, it’s really easy to create
together,” says Halle. “It’s perfect synergy,” adds Chloe.
RISING ACTOR ROLAND BUCK III CALLS TWO COMEDY
GREATS DAD IN NETFLIX’S THE WEEK OF BY CORI MURRAY
NAME: Roland Buck III
AGE: 30
HOMETOWN: Although born in
Chicago, the college football player
turned theater grad was raised
near Dallas.
WHERE YOU’VE SEEN HIM: With
a recurring role as Dr. Sexton on
NBC’s Chicago Med, Buck appeared
in National Geographic channel’s
limited series based on Martha Raddatz’s Iraq War tome,
The Long Road Home, last fall. He now stars opposite Adam
Sandler and Chris Rock in Netflix’s The Week Of.
ON HIS START-STOP CAREER: “My path looked like a
race car track—it wasn’t going anywhere,” he recalls. After
50 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
a summer in New York City
with no audition callbacks,
Buck took a leap of faith and
moved to Los Angeles, where
Roland Buck III
(left) and
he won a coveted scholarship to
Chris Rock
the USC School of Dramatic Arts.
WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW: He
plays Chris Rock’s character’s son, who’s balancing his
father’s highbrow expectations with his fiancée’s family’s
lowbrow reality during the jinxed week leading up to his
wedding; Adam Sandler pops up as his future in-law. “Adam
is very genuine in everything he does,” Buck says of working
with one of his idols (Sandler handpicked him for the role).
“He reconfirmed to me to be genuine, be transparent. Nobody
likes a liar. If you can be genuine, people can relate.”
Follow ESSENCE Entertainment Director
Cori Murray on Twitter @CORIMURRAY.
CLOCK WISE FROM LEF T: COU RTESY OF PARK WOOD ENTERTAIN M ENT; COLU M B IA RECORDS; TONY RIVE T TI/FREEFORM
VIA G E T T Y IMAG ES; LEON B EN N E T T/G E T T Y IMAG ES FOR ESSENCE; COU RTESY OF N E TFLIX; B ENJO ARWAS .
Penning anthems for
—HALLE
Generation Z is just one
of the twosome’s gifts.
Chloe x Halle contributed the
song “Warrior” to the fantasy flick
A Wrinkle in Time. They also wrote “Grown,” the theme for
Freeform’s show grown-ish, a comedy about college life in
which they costar with Yara Shahidi. “We all have that kid
inside of us, no matter how old you are. So when you say
you’re grown, it still has that childlike undertone, because
none of us really know what we’re doing. We’re all figuring
out our way through life,” says Chloe.
Days after their album’s release, Halle turned 18. Chloe will
be 20 in July. If they look familiar beyond their appearances on
television, it could be because their 2013 cover of Beyoncé’s
“Pretty Hurts” caught the attention of millions on YouTube,
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BEYOND
THE BEAT
FOUR WOMEN, ONE CALLING: SAVING
BLACK MUSIC WHILE ELEVATING
OUR ARTISTS’ LEGACY
Black Excellence:
Andra Day (left) joins
Ashaunna K. Ayars and
Common at 2018’s
Toast to the Arts.
BY DANIELLE KWATENG-CLARK
ASHAUNNA K. AYARS
A respected music writer wins a 2018
Grammy for Best Album Notes
A marketing master takes her clients
from the minors to the big leagues
In a world obsessed with controversial
headlines and one-minute reads, Lynell
George is an anomaly. “I’m really into legacy
and trying to make sure that people don’t get
erased,” says the LA Weekly and Los Angeles Times writer
turned college professor.
For more than a decade, George
has kept a finger on the pulse of the
cultural scene in Los Angeles and
how it afects musicians. Last
January, she took home the Best
Album Notes Grammy Award for
Otis Redding Live at the Whisky
a Go Go: The Complete Recordings. George’s carefully
researched material gives a
glimpse into the singer’s three-night
run on the Sunset Strip in 1966, a year before he
tragically passed away at age 26.
“I write a lot about music but I also write about a sense
of place in L.A.,” George says about taking on the project
that required interviewing people who were actually at
the Whisky during Redding’s performances. “I wanted to
know what it was like for Otis Redding, who was beginning to make a career outside of just soul music and R&B.
He wanted to cross over.”
It’s not easy, the work that George does, but it’s work
that has led to her earning well-deserved accolades.
“I was such an advocate for my artists,
sometimes my bosses would be like,
‘Who do you work for, the label or them?!’ ”
That’s the question industry vet Ashaunna K.
Ayars answered for herself when she transitioned from
head of marketing at Def Jam Recordings to launching The
Ayars Agency, a Los Angeles–based marketing firm. The
New York City native handles marketing for
Common and Mary J. Blige—two legendary
artists who kept her pretty busy last awards
season: She and Common hosted their
fourth Toast to the Arts, a glitzy soiree
recognizing Hollywood’s diversity
triumphs, and Blige, with whom she’s
been associated for the past three
years, went from an R&B icon to an
Oscar-nominated phenom.
“With marketing artists, the key is
finding new ways to reinvent yourself,” says
Ayars, who also does consulting for top
brands such as Capitol Records. “The
landscape is changing. People consume
music diferently; people consume content
diferently. So how do you continue to
evolve?” Fortunately for
Ayars counts the
the entertainers she
Queen of Hip-Hop
represents, Ayars has the
Soul, Mary J. Blige,
among her clients.
right answers.
52 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
CLOCK WISE FROM TOP: J ERRIT T CL ARK /G E T T Y IMAG ES FOR REMY MARTIN;
COU RTESY OF ASHAU N NA K . AYARS; FREDERICK M . B ROWN/FILM MAGIC; KIRK M C KOY.
LYNELL GEORGE
CLOCK WISE FROM TOP LEF T: COU RTESY OF NAIMA COCH R AN E (2); ROB ERT MOR A; ROB ERT ECTOR .
NAIMA COCHRANE
PAT SHIELDS
A die-hard music lover turns her passion for storytelling and strategic marketing into a social media hub
An industry vet dedicates herself to the importance of
honoring those who paved the way
After she graduated from City College of
New York, Naima Cochrane’s first break was
being hired as a receptionist for attorneys
Ed Woods and Reggie “Combat Jack”
Ossé, who ran a preeminent hip-hop law
firm in the late 1990’s. From there the South
Carolina–raised pro took of, landing at Bad Boy,
Arista and Columbia Records and working with such artists
as John Legend, Maxwell, J. Cole, Cynthia Erivo and Beyoncé.
Cochrane’s next client is her most exciting yet: herself.
Armed with an extensive knowledge of music (“My father
was a tenor saxophone player and my uncle was a member
of the Commodores”) she started #MusicSermon, a factfilled thread on Twitter that breaks down urban music history
by theme, including “Auntie Divas,” which gives lessons on
Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Janet Jackson and others.
Using her handle @naima, Cochrane ofers weekly churchlike deep dives that have garnered her a following that
includes Ava DuVernay and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“Music isn’t shared intergenerationally the way it
was when we grew up, because now everybody has their
own iPod, headphones, tablets, whatever. You’re not
watching TV together; you’re not listening to the same
music in the car,” she
says. “There are layers
and layers of stories
and people who
have largely started to
get left out of the
narrative, and I’m a
firm believer that you
have to respect what
came before.”
At the age of 34, New York–bred Pat Shields
left her job in marketing at Atlantic Records
to move out West to be with her boyfriend—
now husband—even though she didn’t have a
gig lined up. But with her expertise for
promoting artists, Shields wasn’t out of work for
long. She went on to hold positions at Warner Bros. and
DreamWorks record labels, marketing artists such as Al
Jarreau, Quincy Jones, Tamia, Chaka Khan and Seal.
Another skill Shields possesses: She’s a master at
bringing people together. This talent revealed itself once
she and her husband started their own marketing company,
Black Dot LLC, and she was no longer in the inner circles at
a label on a day-to-day basis. In an efort to stay in touch
with former colleagues, she began sending out e-mail blasts
with relevant news, including funeral announcements, for
music industry insiders.
“We started losing coworkers and I would hear from people
who wished they had known,” says Shields. “They genuinely
liked the person, but it wasn’t until they heard that they died
that they said, ‘Wow. I would love to have been there.’ ”
Shields’s e-mail blasts went from solemn to informative
announcements on topics including marriages, awards and even
new business partnerships. Now, through her association with
The Living Legends Foundation Inc., she oversees the formal
business of keeping people connected and legacies alive.
Every fall the organization raises funds for colleagues who
are in financial distress and hosts a no-cost picnic to reunite
friends. Says Shields: “Somebody has to maintain the legacy
of those people who went before us.”
Ne-Yo
Writer Danielle Kwateng-Clark (@danikwateng) is a content
producer at ESSENCE.com.
MATURING NICELY
ACCORDING TO NE-YO, SETTLING DOWN HAS TURNED
HIM INTO HIS BEST SELF YET BY TANYA A. CHRISTIAN
O
n his seventh studio album, singer, songwriter and producer Ne-Yo
(née Shaffer Smith) tells the story of his journey from carefree
playboy to proud husband to wife Crystal Renay. “The level of
selfishness we hold as men is extreme,” says the father of three (with a
fourth on the way). “So to get to that place where you finally say, You know
what? It ain’t about me. It is about this person. It’s not an easy destination
to reach.” These well-learned lessons find their way into standout tracks
“U Deserve” and “Apology” on Good Man, available June 8. While the
album boasts the smooth melodies we’ve grown to love from the multi–
Grammy Award winner, Ne-Yo’s collaborations with PartyNextDoor, Ty
Dolla $ign and 2 Chainz keep his work of the moment.
Follow ESSENCE Entertainment Director
Cori Murray on Twitter @CORIMURRAY.
PROMOTION
NAI GURIRA,
FANY HADDISH, DA
N, LENA WAITHE, TIF
PSO
IS
OM
TH
NN
DE
SA
U
TES
LIE
HE
REES
K. DE LUCA, HONO
URES CHAIRMAN, RIC
N-CHIEF VANESSA
AND ESSENCE VENT
KS
AN
EB
LLE
ESSENCE EDITOR-I
HE
NT MIC
ESSENCE PRESIDE
HOST YVONNE ORJI,
ANGELA BASSETT AND JAN
ELLE MONÁE; DANAI GURIRA
AND LUPITA NYONG’O ARE
AVA DUVERNAY INTRODUCES
BEST-FRIENDSHIP GOALS;
THE PERFORMANCE BY CHL
OE X HALLE
PRESENTED BY
SPONSORED BY
EXCLUSIVE BROADCAST PARTNER OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: RICH POLK ; LEON BENNETT; RANDY SHROPSHIRE; AARON THORNTON
On March 1, 2018—ESSENCE celebrated its 11th annual Black Women in Hollywood
Awards and Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Attended by celebrities,
industry titans and influencers, the highly anticipated luncheon serves as a safe
space for black women in the industry to celebrate each other.
PROMOTION
CHLOE X HALLE PERFORM “WARRIOR”; ACTOR JUSSIE SMOLLETT POSES ALONG HIS SISTER, JURNEE SMOLLETT-BELL
;
FORD MOTOR COMPANY’S MULTICULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER JENNIFER EDWARDS AND DR. REATES
CURRY
INTRODUCING ANGELA BASSETT AND JUSTIN SIMIEN
TIFFANY HADDISH ACCEPTS HER AWARD; AMANDA SEALES AND RETTA SHARE AN EMBRACE; TESSA THOMSPON
ACCEPTING HER AWARD FROM PRESENTER JANELLE MONAE; LALA ANTHONY STRIKES A POSE ON THE RED CARPET
SUPERSTAR HOST YVONNE ORJI; A FEW GOOD MEN TERRENCE J, CORY HARDICT AND JAY ELLIS; OSCAR NOMINEE
DANIEL
KALUUYA EMBRACES HIS BLACK PANTHER CO-STAR AND HONOREE, DANAI GURIRA; SQUAD GOALS!
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: RICH POLK ; LEON BENNETT; RANDY SHROPSHIRE; AARON THORNTON
OUR SPONSORS
SUSAN KELECHI WATSON STEPS INTO HER 2018 FORD EXPEDITION;
THE 2018 FORD MUSTANG
MACRO’S POPPY HANKS GETS HER GLOW ON WITH L’OREAL PARIS
LONI LOVE AND GUEST GRAB A COCA-COLA DURING THE RECEPTION
SIMONE MISSICK GAVE US WAKANDA VIBES IN THE WALMART
PHOTO BOOTH
SEE MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2018 BLACK WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD GALA ON ESSENCE.COM
SCENE : PATRIK’S PICKS
LIFE &
LOVE
LESSONS
FIVE NEW READS
FROM RISK TAKERS
WITH UNIQUE VOICES
AND TALES
BY PATRIK HENRY BASS
TV’S NEW IT GIRL
Good Girls star and Parks
and Recreation cutup Retta
can steal a scene with one
side eye. If you read her
Twitter feed (I plead guilty),
you know she makes you think
while giggling. Her talent is on
full display in her memoir,
So Close to Being the Sh*t,
Y’all Don’t Even Know
(St. Martin’s Press, $26.99).
In it she takes us on her
journey from being a contract
chemist at GlaxoSmithKline
to winning Comedy Central’s
stand-up competition to
snagging her breakout roles
in sitcoms—and gives us the
deets on her love life.
“STATUE” OF LIMITATIONS
In the Shadow of Statues
(Viking, $25) by former
New Orleans mayor Mitch
Landrieu charts the city’s
struggle to reconcile its painful past with its promising
present through the removal
of Confederate monuments
featured in the Big Easy’s
public spaces. Blending both
the personal and political,
Landrieu provides an eyeopener on how history can
often be distorted over time.
FINDING FREEDOM
Donna Hylton proves it’s not
where you start but where
you finish. In her searing
narrative, A Little
Piece of Light
(Hachette, $28),
she recounts
spending more
than 25 years at
New York’s
Donna
Bedford Hills
Hylton
Correctional
Facility for kidnapping and
second-degree murder. How
she got there will rock you
to your core.
FUNNY LADY
If you enjoyed Samantha
Irby’s hilarious 2017 collection, We Are Never Meeting
in Real Life, you will love
Meaty (Vintage, $15.95). The
author has updated this dazzling book of essays, originally
published in 2013, with new
material—including her favorite
Instagram recipes. Read the
laugh-out-loud
gem before its
adaptation hits
the television
Samantha Irby airwaves.
56 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
BASS , SE AN BU RROWES . CLOCK WISE FROM RIG HT: E VA B LU E; J ERRY DAVIS , J R .; JOAN NA
ELDREDG E MORRISSE Y. BOOK STILLS , JON PATERSON . PROP ST YLIST, CHAN EL KEN N EB RE W.
TAKING CHANCES
Nell Painter is a historian’s
historian. The author of The
History of White People and
the acclaimed
Sojourner Truth
biography
stunned others
when she
decided to
change her
Nell
life—at 64. In Old
Painter
in Art School
(Counterpoint,
$26), she makes a smart,
funny and compelling case
for going after your heart’s
desires, no matter your age
or what your critics say.
SCENE : BOOKS
Doctor
recommended.
NEW
ZORA
That’s the
beauty.
A LOST MANUSCRIPT
EMERGES FROM A HARLEM
RENAISSANCE LEGEND
HURSTON, CARL VAN VECHTEN/COURTESY OF THE
VAN VECHTEN TRUST.B O O K S T I L L , J O N PAT E R S O N .
A
ny fan of Zora Neale Hurston’s
knows that when she left
Eatonville, Florida, and
ended up in New York City,
it was to study anthropology. She was the
first Black woman
to graduate from
Barnard College in
1928, and cultural
expression was at the
core of her work as
a novelist, an author, a
journalist, a folklorist and a
playwright. Perhaps the most
prolific woman writer during the Harlem
Renaissance, Hurston fell into obscurity
and was buried in an unmarked grave
after she died in 1960.
In a 1975 essay reprinted in the 1983
collection In Search of Our Mothers’
Gardens, Alice Walker recounts how
she looked for Hurston’s burial plot
and placed a marker on her literary
heroine’s grave site. Four years later
Walker edited I Love Myself When I
Am Laughing...and Then Again When
I Am Looking Mean and Impressive,
which features a compendium of
Hurston’s writings. The courageous
icon’s voice remains energetic,
thoughtful, defiant and timeless in
the many genres she fervently dove
into. Best known for her seminal
novel, Their Eyes Were Watching
God, she penned several other books,
including her autobiography, Dust
Tracks on a Road.
We now know that Hurston could
hustle, and she was always seeking a
good story. Last fall there was an
event of sorts in the publishing world
when it was revealed that a “lost” manuscript of hers had been found. Now it’s
here: Barracoon: The Story of the Last
“Black Cargo” (Amistad, $24.99). Edited
and with an introduction
by literary scholar Deborah
G. Plant, Barracoon charts
the tale of Cudjo Lewis, who
Hurston reported was a surviving member on the last known
transatlantic slave ship from Africa to
the United States. Once you get beyond
the debatable vernacular (warning:
there are a lot of dose, deys and deses in
this narrative), Hurston and Lewis stitch
together a horrifying firsthand account of
enslavement. We learn that Lewis’s given
name was Oluale Kossola and that he
was born in 1841 and grew up in Benin.
He was snatched from his people in
1860 and placed in a barracoon, a
holding cell for captured Africans,
before being thrown on the Clotilde,
a cargo ship where few, if any, knew
the fate that was awaiting them in a
strange land. That new land benefited
from his and countless others’ unpaid
labor—which was done under terrifying and inhumane circumstances.
Lewis was 86 when he met Hurston
in Plateau, Alabama. In him the young
writer found an extraordinary man. He
never stopped dreaming of returning to Benin. He loved his homeland
so much that he established African
Town, north of Mobile, Alabama, along
with several formerly enslaved people.
Though he outlived his wife, Abile, and
all six of their children, it is fitting that
his story lives on, as does Hurston’s.
It is even more fitting in these curious
times that the truth lives on. —P.H.B.
º
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 57
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Copyright ©2018 Essence Communications
ISSUES
10
THINGS
WE’RE
TALKING
ABOUT
BY TANYA A. CHRISTIAN
VITALIY PILTSER /G E T T Y IMAG ES
A 2017 landmark report
coauthored by the NAACP
and Clean Air Task Force
found that more than
1 million African-Americans
live within a half mile of oil
and natural gas facilities.
Exposure to the air’s toxic
emissions is associated with
an elevated risk of cancer
and other diseases.
1.
CLEAN AIR, NOW
As the White House rolls back Obama-era regulations aimed at reducing air pollution, a study released in March by U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency scientists suggests that Black Americans are 1.54 times more likely to be subjected
to higher levels of harmful smoke and gases known as particulate matter (PM) than White Americans, regardless of wealth. The
research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, associates PM of 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less with lung
disease, heart disease and premature death. “The data support what Black women like me already know,” says Nikki Silvestri,
founder and principal of Soil and Shadow, an environmental strategies consulting business. “The air we’re breathing negatively
impacts our health and our families’ more than other Americans’. It’s beyond time for decision makers to understand that this
hasn’t changed. Our ability to breathe clean air is vital. It’s criminal that some of us don’t have access to it.”
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 59
ISSUES : TRENDING TOPICS
2.
3.
4.
CALLING BLACK SCHOLARS
MOVING ON UP
A MUCH-NEEDED BOOST
New York University wants to diversify
higher ed with a new push to recruit
underrepresented educators. Its
inaugural program Faculty First-Look
invites students of color completing a
relevant terminal degree such as their
Ph.D. or Ed.D. to attend a four-day
learning-intensive course over two
semesters that trains participants in
efective ways to enter the field.
Stanford University recently became the
first private American university to name
a Black woman professor of neurosurgery when it promoted Odette Harris,
M.D., to the position. Harris also serves as
the director of brain surgery at the
institution’s medical center. Black women
make up just 2.3 percent of medical
school professors in the U.S., according
to the Association of Medical Colleges.
When it comes to propelling HBCUs
forward, Howard grad Kamala Harris
is down for the cause. The California
senator, along with Senator Doug
Jones of Alabama, fiercely advocated
for and achieved obtaining more
federal dollars for the institutions. The
U.S. Senate’s omnibus bill includes a
14 percent increase in funding,
equating to an additional $5 million.
5.
6.
7.
I am not suggesting that diversity
cannot do good work, but it has to be
combined with justice. Diversity without
structural transformation simply brings
those who were previously excluded
into a system as racist, as misogynist as
it was before.
REPRESENTATION MATTERS
A guidebook by Mariame Kaba and
Essence McDowell adds to the wellknown list of prominent Blacks who hail
from Chicago’s much-talked-about
neighborhood. In Lifting as They
Climbed: Mapping a History of Black
Women on Chicago’s South Side, the
authors feature 33 locations connected
to 48 women who have positively
contributed to the community.
”
TRACING OUR ROOTS
”
—Angela Davis, talking to a Charlottesville,
Virginia, audience about the impact and
intersectionality of political movements
A recent report by Women’s Media
Center focuses on the challenges
faced by minority women in newsrooms. The Status of Women of Color
in the U.S. News Media 2018 proposes
that companies alter their recruiting
practices to boost the number of
workers from this marginalized
group—of which only 2.16 percent are
in leadership positions.
5
3
6
8.
9.
10.
ALABAMA RISING
SIMPLY MARVEL-OUS
PAY US WHAT YOU OWE US
Flipping a Senate seat in Alabama
was just a start for its liberal
constituents. According to
Democratic oicials, nearly three
dozen Black women are running for
oice in the state and county judicial
races or for seats in the state
legislature. The party hopes this
unprecedented number will spur a
wave of political activism.
Wakanda’s favorite female warriors
are getting some much-deserved
shine in a comic book due out this
month. The Dora Milaje, tasked with
protecting King T’Challa in Marvel’s
Black Panther, plays a leading role in
Wakanda Forever: Amazing SpiderMan, the first of a three-part series
penned by award-winning author
Nnedi Okorafor.
Women in New Jersey now have a
legal entitlement to pay equity. In
April, Governor Phil Murphy signed the
Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, which
makes it unlawful for employers to
compensate women less than men for
“substantially similar” work. Some
proponents of the bill say it will also
help minorities find success in paydiscrimination cases.
60 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
For trending topics, follow Tanya A.
Christian on Twitter @TANYAACHRISTIAN.
3 . TERRENCE M C C ARTHY/STAN FORD. 5 . COU RTESY OF AUTHOR .
6 . ROB IN L. MARSHALL /G E T T Y IMAG ES . 9. TERRY DODSON/MARVEL.
9
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MONEY &
POWER
PARTY
OF ONE
THE BEST WALLET-FRIENDLY
SOLO TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
FOR BLACK WOMEN
AL ANA YOL AN DE /@AL ANAYOL AN DE
BY JANELLE HARRIS
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 63
MONEY & POWER : TRAVEL GOALS
From left: Beaches in Fort Lauderdale are just as delightful as those in neighboring Miami; Victoria Mason, founder
of the blog She’s Candid, relaxes seaside in Fort Lauderdale; a view of the Oculus, a recent addition to New York
City must-sees; fun-loving music bufs will relish the carefree vibe of Brooklyn’s Afropunk Fest in the summer.
S
olo travel can be more than just an encounter with new people and places; it could
present a chance for self-reflection. Entrepreneur Claire Soares experienced this firsthand when she visited Paris alone in 2011. As founder of Up in the Air Life, a luxury
travel company, she says going on trips by yourself may forge a new worldview. “I went
to coffee shops and sat there hearing French around me, people-watching and taking a mental
break from everything in my life to be in that moment. It was amazing,” she says. An unfamiliar
setting might also help heal pain and trauma, as Izmira Aitch, a legislative assistant who has visited 22 countries on her own, found out: “When you surround yourself with intrigue and new
stimuli, your brain is constantly working. There’s not a lot of room for being down.” When we
take a vacation alone and traverse uncharted territory, we typically end up discovering
something new about ourselves. These affordable destinations provide the perfect opportunity
to detach from the every day and reconnect with your life.
For the Starter Soloist: After revamping
its image from a prime spring break
location for college students to a cosmopolitan beach setting for discerning folks,
the South Florida city has emerged as a
more economical and appealing option to
its well-known neighbor, Miami. “Fort
Lauderdale has great beaches, beautiful
water, inexpensive hotels and a lot of stuf
to do,” says Soares, who rents a reasonably priced time-share apartment during
her stays. Annual events like the Wilton
Manors Stonewall Pride Parade & Festival
make the city a popular spot for the
LGBTQ community. Low-cost functions
such as Destination Fridays at the
African-American Research Library and
Cultural Center honor the influence of
communities of color. Stroll through the
64 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
Swap Shop, a massive market and
entertainment complex that has a
drive-in movie theater and more than
2,000 vendors, so discount shopping
addicts can get their fix. Try a free Saturday-morning surfing lesson, courtesy of
Island Water Sports, in nearby Deerfield
Beach; tour the Everglades; or set sail on
a riverboat cruise to see the waterways
that have earned the area its nickname,
Venice of America.
NEW YORK CITY
For the Nonplanner: Anyone who has
reveled in the magic of the Big Apple—
including the record 62.8 million tourists
who went last year—can always find
something to enjoy there. “It’s the best
place I can think of for solo travelers
because you don’t have to plan
anything. All you’ve got to do is walk
outside,” says Tomika Anderson,
founder of Single Parents Who Travel,
an online group of more than 3,000
members. Explore beyond Manhattan’s
usual sites: Go window-shopping at the
upscale retail stores in the Oculus, the
transportation hub some call an
architectural wonder; visit the Museum
of the Moving Image in Queens, where
admission is free on Fridays from 4 P.M.
to 8 P.M.; or get tickets for the annual
Afropunk Fest in Brooklyn (they start at
$50). Head to Harlem and indulge in
soul food fusion and good music at Red
Rooster, co-owned by celebrity chef
Marcus Samuelsson, Anderson
suggests. Intimidated by New York’s
tough reputation? “In any city you have
to protect yourself and look where
FROM LEF T: CORDU L A SCHAEFER /G E T T Y IMAG ES; VICTORIA OF SH E’ S C AN DID/
@SHESC AN DID; NYC SHOOTER /G ET T Y IMAG ES; MIRE YA ACIERTO/G ET T Y IMAG ES .
FORT LAUDERDALE
From left: Oladotun Idowu, founder of Sisters in Media, enjoys high tea during a trip to London; Belfast’s
gothic beauty is an ideal escape for history devotees; Amber Blackmon, founder of the travel blog The
Dreamer’s Lens, embraces a sunny day in Phuket; blogger Ivy Coco has a magical moment in Marrakech.
you’re going,” she advises. “Keep your
eyes open, trust that the people who are
talking to themselves are crazy, move
along and enjoy yourself. That’s it.”
FROM LEF T: COU RTESY OF SU B J ECT; C ARSTEN KRIEG ER /G E T T Y IMAG ES;
AM B ER B L ACKMON/@TH E WORDSWITHIN; AL ANA YOL AN DE /@AL ANAYOL AN DE.
LONDON
For the First-Timer Abroad: Don’t be put
of by the U.K. capital’s pricey rep. The city
is walkable, and when it’s not, an $87
Travelcard for a week of getting around on
buses and the subway—it’s called the
underground or the tube there—makes
sightseeing easy and cost-efective.
“London is a lovely city to travel to alone,
and it has a vibrant Afropean community,
nightlife and art scene,” says Aitch. Stop
by The Africa Centre and Black Cultural
Archives, which houses large collections of
information on Black Brits. Up your
vacay’s wow factor with a $125 day trip to
Windsor Castle, Bath and Stonehenge,
and take in the shopping at Portbello
Road Market, where more than 1,000
vendors ofering food, fashion and
antiques line the street on weekends. And
if you want some company, connect with
a Black Londoner or an expat group like
UK & USA Black Connections on Meetup.
BELFAST
For the History Aficionado: This
Northern Ireland capital city is small
enough to allow visitors to tour on foot as
they absorb its past and delight in its present, from the Ulster Museum to the Titanic
Belfast. Inexpensive meals at iconic
taverns are a good excuse for pub-crawling. What makes it an especially great
place for Black women to travel solo,
according to Aitch, is the area’s
unexpected but evident reverence for
people of African descent. “When I
announced that I was American, I had
people kissing my hand and giving me
the extra Irish pour on my alcohol. My
taxi driver didn’t charge me and
thanked me for our struggle. It was so
moving,” particularly, she admits,
because she had braced herself to
encounter stereotypical racism. The
good vibes extend to Black Taxi Tours,
which explores hundreds of political
murals depicting global movements
including those led by freedom fighters
like Nelson Mandela.
PHUKET
For the Beach Enthusiast: Located in
southwest Thailand, this haven is
chock-full of enriching activities. Big
Buddha, a world-famous attraction, is
visible from most venues on the island,
and Thalang Road is filled with authentic
shopping, food and architecture. Luxury
retreats like The Westin Siray Bay Resort
& Spa and Katathani Phuket Beach
Resort might be high-end, but prices
can start at less than $110 per night in
mid-June on travel booking sites like
TripAdvisor. If you crave the beach, Hat
Bang Thao is a nearly five-mile stretch
of flirtation between white sand and
aquamarine water. The full-service
restaurants and massage spots make
traveling on your own peaceful without
any feelings of isolation. The nightlife
along Bangla Road is a bufet of live
music, dancing and parties, and in this
friendly town you can go it alone or find
a partner. “If you did a week in Phuket,
you would have a pretty jam-packed
itinerary,” says Soares, who lists the city
as a solo travel favorite because of its
accessibility and safety.
MARRAKECH
For the Soul-Searcher: The urban jewel
of central Morocco is as much of an
adventure as an out-of-towner wants it
to be. This metropolis is home to
bathhouses, called hammams, and
luxury spas like the five-star La
Mamounia. Visitors can relish quiet, even
visceral, moments at the historic
palaces around the city or on a day trip
to Ouzoud Falls. For culture seekers,
Jemma el-Fnaa, the outdoor epicenter
of local shopping, is bustling with food
markets, henna artists, even snake
charmers. “It overloads the senses in
the best possible way,” says Anderson.
To save on airfare, she added Marrakech
to her travel schedule in 2012 after
visiting Spain. One downside for
Anderson was occasional catcalling,
but on the whole her trip was wonderful. Whether you’re there to relax or
have some fun, taking a hot-air balloon
ride at sunrise is a must, she says. “It’s
incredible, even mystical,” Anderson
continues. “You’ll feel like you’re on top
of the world, and the best news is, the
tour companies take care of almost
everything. All you do is show up.”
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 65
PATH TO POWER : LEADING AT WORK
IN THE
DRIVER’S
SEAT
KRISTINA OMARI’S JOURNEY UP
THE CORPORATE LADDER TO LYFT
WASN’T A SOLO TRIP, THANKS TO
HER THRIVING SUPPORT SYSTEM OF
COLLEGE FRIENDS AND MENTORS
BY JIHAN THOMPSON
W
hen Lyft, the company behind the ride-hailing
app, searched for its first VP of corporate
development and investor relations late
last year, Kristina Omari wasn’t a tough sell. After
cutting her teeth at heavyweights such as Hewlett
Packard and Adobe, as well as start-ups like Fitbit, the
Stanford University graduate was more than poised to
play a pivotal role in harnessing Lyft’s recent runaway
growth. She understands how relationship building
strengthens business and benefits one’s own career.
Here she shares how maintaining a broad network has
enabled her to get ahead.
ESSENCE: What are your responsibilities as vice-president?
KRISTINA OMARI: In corporate development we think
about our strategy and how to accelerate it through
partnerships and acquisitions. I am always looking at
what’s next for the company and trying to ensure that
we have the right resources and capabilities to pursue
those opportunities.
I couldn’t have made it through without the guidance
and support of my tribe. Beyond making strong connections within the Black community, many of my mentors
have not been female or Black, and I think it’s important
to be able to find mentors and leaders in your company
who can be supportive. Your reputation and the network
you build are critical to your career.
ESSENCE: So what’s your key to networking efectively?
K.O.: I didn’t appreciate doing it like I should have in
my first or second job. However, I’ve reconnected with
people from some of those jobs and thanked them for
the support they provided in order to rebuild those
relationships.
ESSENCE: Tell us about BuildUp, the nonprofit
you cofounded.
K.O.: A few years ago, I joined an all-female angel investing group in San Francisco. Angel investing is a crucial
part of early-stage companies getting initial capital to
build their prototypes and
even have the option to make
their businesses viable. Upon
entering this field, I saw just
how few founders there were
who looked like me. As a result I, along with two others,
launched BuildUp. In 2015 we did a pilot version of the
program in which we assisted six founders who represented diverse groups—Black, Latino, women, LGBTQ
or veterans. We wanted to give them a head start in getting their businesses off the ground. I hope to continue
working with start-up creators and ushering them to the
next level.
Your reputation and
the network you build are
critical to your career.
ESSENCE: What excites you
about working at Lyft?
K.O.: The company is fundamentally changing how we
view transportation. Earlier
this year I rode in one of our first autonomous vehicles.
In five or ten years, these vehicles might actually be on
the road, and how we think about getting from point A
to point B might be totally transformed.
66 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
º
Jihan Thompson is a writer and entrepreneur based in Chicago.
COU RTESY OF LYF T
ESSENCE: How has it been for you as a Black woman
in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)?
K.O.: At Stanford, we had a strong network of Black
students studying engineering and we supported one
another. I’m still close friends with many of them.
PROMOTION
JULY 5-8
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#ESSENCEFEST
THE
FIRE
NEXT
TIME
IN HBO’S FAHRENHEIT
451, MICHAEL B. JORDAN
PLAYS A YOUNG MAN
COMPELLED TO SAVE
THE WRITTEN WORD
AT ALL COSTS. IN REAL
LIFE, HE’S AS FOCUSED
ON CREATING HIS OWN
STORIES AND MAKING
EVERY MOMENT COUNT
Sitting down in a quaint
Now the pride of Newark, New
sushi restaurant in downtown
Jersey, is on an indepenPhiladelphia in March, Michael
dent streak. Up first: Jordan
B. Jordan is keenly aware a
leads and executive-produces
man nearby has pulled his
HBO’s adaptation of Fahrenheit
phone out in an attempt to
451, Ray Bradbury’s 1953
sneak a picture. There will be
dystopian novel about a future
five more times Jordan notices
American society in which
people snapping photos as he
books are outlawed and burned
sits for this interview. “I wish
by “firemen.” In his role as
BY MATTHEW A. CHERRY
they would just come by and
favored fireman Guy Montag,
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAEL ROWE
say, ‘What’s up?’ instead of
Jordan’s hell-bent on serving
STYLING BY AVON DORSEY
sneaking pictures,” he says,
justice—that is, until he starts
sighing. Such is the new life of
questioning everyone around
an actor whose turn as one of
him, even himself.
the most memorable villains is in one of the biggest
Of camera, Jordan’s secure in his career (he has three
films of all time. Jordan’s supernova now.
films in production), legacy (“I want people to say, ‘He
It may seem as if the 31-year-old’s meteoric rise hap- made an impact’ ”) and heart (yes, Black women, he
pened overnight, but Jordan’s trajectory has been on
loves you). Read on.
course for years. Pre-Killmonger fans have obsessed
over his TV characters, such as Wallace from The Wire, ESSENCE: I know you’re here in Philadelphia gearing
Vince from Friday Night Lights—and even young Reggie up for Creed II, and we’ll get deeper into that in a secfrom All My Children. Then there’s the work Jordan did
ond, but let’s talk Fahrenheit 451. When did you end
after crossing paths with writer–director Ryan Coogler.
up shooting that? I know you’ve been crazy busy
Reminiscent of the synergy between Denzel Washington since Black Panther.
and Spike Lee, Jordan and Coogler’s work in critically
MICHAEL B. JORDAN: I shot Fahrenheit last summer, so
acclaimed films—2013’s Fruitvale Station and 2015’s almost a full year ago. It’s one of those projects I was a
Creed—was only the start of a partnership that would
little hesitant about taking [because I’d be] playing an
steamroll into this year’s juggernaut, Black Panther.
authoritative figure. A lot of my characters really come
»
78 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
Opening page:
Michael B . Jordan
wears Ermenegildo
Zegna Couture top,
jacket and trousers,
Crown of Light
“Crown Intrepid ”
ring, Miansai “Bare
Wrap” bracelet
and Cerruti 1881
slip-on shoes.
This page: On
Michael: Lanvin
color-block shirt,
Roberto Cavalli
trousers, Miansai
“Ipsum Rope”
bracelet and “Single
Rope Casing” silver
bracelet and Nike
“Air Max 270”
sneakers.
80 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
from our perspective, more of an oppressed point of view.
So being an oppressor in a sense, it didn’t sit well with me.
I’d was like, “I don’t know, man.” But then I met the director
[Ramin Bahrani] and saw his vision and the message he
was trying to send. And I was all for it—to take a role like
[Guy] Montag, and spin it on its head and put it in the not
too near future.
ESSENCE: Especially with the guy we have in oice right
now, this could be a thing for real, real soon.
JORDAN: Exactly. Just to be a part of that message, man, to
be a part of that piece of art, that can be a milestone moment
in time, was extremely important for me. And being able to
executive-produce it as well was essential. To go from being
hired as an actor on The Wire to then be able to coproduce a
movie on HBO was great.
ESSENCE: Was your production company Outlier Society
involved in Fahrenheit 451?
JORDAN: No, this was already in the works.
ESSENCE: Got it. So tell me about your company.
JORDAN: I want my company to be a reflection of my
career: diverse, universal and progressive and have a
lot of heart. I’m into sci-fi. I’m into fantasy and escapism. I look forward to the future. But I want to create
more opportunities in entertainment, period. For all
walks of life, but specifically for people of color and
women. I just want to tell stories with a fresh take, fresh
POV. Representation is really important.
ESSENCE: Who really inspired you to step behind
the camera and be more active in generating your
own projects?
JORDAN: Peter Berg, [the creator
of the TV series Friday Night
Lights]. He sat me down one day
like, “Mike, one day you’re going
to want to stop waiting on phone
calls, and you’re going to want to
start calling the shots. You’re
going to get tired of being told
what to do.” He said, “The key is
ownership.” Write. Create. Own it.
Then go ahead and get more
power and more control. And that
way if somebody ever tells you,
“You’re not hot right now,” it’s
never going to stop your movement, it’s not going to stop your growth, it’s not going
to stop your success, it’s not going to stop your impact
on the game. I took that to heart and I ran with it at a
real young age. I’ve just been building and building and
building ever since.
sion riders for your company. Actually I think you were the
first. Why was that critical?
JORDAN: Actions speak louder than words. I want to lead by
example. I know I had an opportunity with the shows and
projects I had coming up, to put it to work. It’s important to
have diversity both in front of and behind the camera, and
inclusion riders make sure that anyone who does business
with my company knows that we expect there to be people of
color, women, LGBT folks and people with disabilities in key
positions on our crews and production stafs.
ESSENCE: What are some other ways you try to be an ally
for women, outside of your company?
JORDAN: I’m raised by strong women. When you see something that’s wrong or unfair or unjust, as a man you got to step
up and help those who are not speaking up for themselves. And
when they are, they need our support. Since the majority of people in power are men, when we speak up it gives them firmer
ground to stand on when we support them. I’m not the poster
boy for it; I’m not the guy who’s trying to get in every cause, but
at the same time when they call me for help, I’m there. I’ve got a
lot of strong women in my life: actors, producers, writers, friends,
family, and if they ever need me for anything they could hit me
up. I’m going to be there to support them. ESSENCE: Just thinking about that, all these strong women
in your life, how was that growing up?
JORDAN: My grandmother, man. G-ball, man. Sitting me down
and making me read the 23rd Psalm. Memorizing that and the
91st Psalm to “Boy, get your ass out in the front yard and get
me a switch.” That’s how I was raised, man. And my mom, having lupus but being the backbone and heart of my family.
Always having a smile on her face and always being there for
I’VE GOT A LOT OF STRONG
WOMEN IN MY LIFE: ACTORS,
PRODUCERS, FRIENDS,
FAMILY. I’M GOING TO BE
THERE TO SUPPORT THEM.
ESSENCE: That’s powerful, man. I noticed you were
one of the first people to announce adopting inclu-
us and finding a way to make ends meet along with my dad.
They accomplished the impossible. It gave me a respect for
women; it gave me an appreciation for their emotions, for their
heart, for their spirit, for their intuition.
ESSENCE: With you having all these strong Black
women in your life, how did your family respond to the
rumors about you not dating Black women?
»
JORDAN: My family and everybody laughed about it. It’s so
funny to everybody, because it couldn’t be further from
the truth. Anybody who knows me, knows I like women,
period. Especially my sisters. My dad and my mom both
said, “If they only knew.” If they only knew. And that’s the
thing that keeps me not tripping about it, you know what I
mean? I’m human, and the thing about it that bothers me
right? It’s on shirts, hashtags. It’s like a whole movement.
JORDAN: I feel proud. You know what I’m saying. Because
me and Ryan [Coogler], we put a lot of work into that character, and we wanted to represent a perspective that was
never really put on screen before. The character, that’s real.
Got some real pain and issues that a lot of people don’t relate
to. And so to see people getting on Killmonger’s side, it
makes me real proud.
ESSENCE: Back to the fact that
you are in Philly shooting Creed
II. One thing I notice is that people are kind of like, “How come
Ryan isn’t doing it?” Maybe you
can speak to that a bit?
JORDAN: Ryan, he’s executiveproducing as well. You know
what I’m saying, so he’s still
involved. Still involved, but sometimes schedules just don’t line up, man. And as you can see,
he was busy. LOOK AT WHAT I’M ABOUT AS A
PERSON. HOW COULD I NOT LOVE
AND APPRECIATE MY OWN RACE?
most is when it’s your own people who want to believe
something that’s so far from the truth. You know what I’m
saying? Look at my work. Look at what I do. Look at what
I’m about as a person. Look at my upbringing, my culture,
where I come from. How could I not love and appreciate
my own race?
ESSENCE: Does it make you more hesitant, especially now,
knowing that this rumor is out there? Are you more conscious of who you might be seen with?
JORDAN: Unfortunately, a little bit. It makes me hesitant
about whoever I’m seen with. I’m finally starting to get to a
place now where I don’t care, but it bothered me for a minute.
It made me more conscious of things I say and how I move,
and what could happen if I leave a club or a restaurant or
the movies. If I leave anywhere, any known place with
anybody, there’s going to be speculation. If it’s a woman,
it’s going to be put under a microscope for everybody to
pick apart and make the assumptions, and the trolls go at it,
and all of a sudden it’s truth. It’s the cost of being in the
position that I’m in. And you just got to be aware of it. It
sucks, but it is what it is.
ESSENCE: Now that you’ve cleared the air about this, what
is it about a woman that captures your attention?
JORDAN: Man, bro. The eyes, eyes are important to me. You
can tell a lot. The eyes—they don’t tell lies. The neck, the hands.
ESSENCE: The hands? I’ve never heard that before.
JORDAN: There’s something about a woman’s hands. It’s
important. Of course, I’m interested in lips and body. [But] I’m
not just looking for looks. I’m into the whole person. Also her
smell, how the woman smells, it’s crucial. ESSENCE: I want to pivot to Black Panther for a quick
second. One thing I want to ask you, man, is how does it
make you feel when people are like, Erik Killmonger was
82 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
ESSENCE: Just a little bit.
JORDAN: [Laughs] Yeah, a lot of things on his plate, man, so
we always keep it in the family. He is always actively involved,
but it gives us an amazing opportunity to give someone else
a chance. Steven Caple, Jr., is an incredible director, and he’s
going to put his fingerprints all over this one. Looking forward to it. It’s a nice little action-packed heartfelt story. It’s
in a real good place.
ESSENCE: Creed deals a lot with legacy and it makes me
wonder, how do you want to be remembered?
JORDAN: It goes back to the quote, “Live your dash.” It
just means to live your life between the dash [between the
day you were born and the day you die] and make the
most of it, because we’re only here for a short amount of
time. And it’s like, I want to have a legacy. I want people to
look back at my career and the things I’ve done and the
people I’ve touched and the communities I’ve influenced
and for them to say that he made an impact; he changed
what people think.
ESSENCE: Last thing, man, is there anything that normally doesn’t get put into these interviews that you
want to say?
JORDAN: I’m getting ready to start up a couple things,
man. Foundations for inner-city kids—I really want to
make it easier for them to dream. I want to start a charter
school. The curriculum people learn is outdated. We got
to change the way we educate. I want to start influencing
the youth in a real big way. That’s definitely something on
my ten-year agenda.
º
Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) is a writer, director and
creative executive at Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions.
Michael wears a Tom
Ford V-neck top,
DSquared2 “ Hockney ”
pants and Miansai
“ Beacon Leather
Cord ” bracelet.
For clothing details,
see Where to Buy.
Barber, Kenny Duncan.
Groomer, Jessica Ortiz using
Ren Clean Skincare/The Wall
Group. Manicurist, Brittney
Webster/kenbarboza.com.
Prop stylist, Barbara Botting.
ESCAPE TO MALIBU LIKE WE DID, OR
WHEREVER THE BREEZE TAKES YOU, IN SEXY
SWIMSUITS AND COZY BEACHWEAR
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BENJO | FASHION EDITOR: AVON DORSEY
84 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
PAPER , R AN PLE T T/G E T T Y IMAG ES
This page:
On Milan (left): Rosa Chá
“Laco” top and “Bossa
Nova” bottom. Jennifer
Fisher “Convertible Globe
Duster” earrings, “Reverse
Bangle” bracelet and
“Female” ring.
On DeAngelo (far left):
Psycho Bunny “Men’s
Linen Sport” shirt. Versace
“Barocco Printed” swim
shorts. Miansai “Single
Rope Casing” bracelet.
Earring, subject’s own.
Opposite page: (Far left)
On Milan: Adidas by Stella
McCartney “Training
Printed” swimsuit. Jennifer
Fisher x Of White
“Radiating Energy Hoop”
earrings and Jennifer Fisher
“Reverse Bangle” bracelet.
»
(Below top left) On Milan: Daniel Patrick
“Cropped Road” hoodie. Onia “Lily” bikini
bottom. 21HM “Lilac” tiered earrings.
Hysteria by Happy Socks “Cilla Knee
High” socks. On DeAngelo: Daniel Patrick
“Heavy Hoodie NY” sweatshirt. Frescobol
Carioca “Freijo Tailored” swim shorts.
Billionaire Boys Club “Rugby Stripe 5
Panel” cap. Earring, subject’s own.
(Above) On DeAngelo:
Lacoste L!ve “Hood Fleece
Zip” sweatshirt. Earring,
subject’s own. (Right) On
DeAngelo: Lacoste L!ve
“Hood Fleece Zip” sweatshirt. Vilebrequin “Moorea
Danse Du Feu Print”
swim shorts. Montblanc
“1858 Automatic” watch.
Earring, subject’s own.
86 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
This page: On Milan: Oye
Swimwear “Sookie” swimsuit.
Claire’s “Salty But Sweet”
baseball cap. On DeAngelo:
Daniel Patrick “Shield Cloak II”
top. Vilebrequin “Moorise GlowIn-The-Dark Starfish” swim shorts.
Opposite page: On Milan: Eres
“Cliché” swimsuit. Jennifer
Fisher “Classic Hoop” earrings.
On DeAngelo: Billionaire Boys
Club sweatshirt. Everest Isles
“Diver Mod” swim trunks. Earring,
subject’s own.
»
On Milan: Eres “Noise” bikini top. Love Culture
“Floral High Rise Palazzo” pants. Jennifer
Fisher “Lake” earrings, “Reverse Bangle”
bracelet and “Female” ring. On DeAngelo:
Everest Isles “Beach” shirt. Adidas Originals
“3 Stripe” shorts. Earring, subject’s own.
Hair, Tara Copeland/kenbarboza.com.
Makeup, Red/kenbarboza.com. Manicure,
Nettie Davis/kenbarboza.com. Models,
Milan Dixon/Photogenics. DeAngelo/
Wrenn Mgmt.
88 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
This page: (Above)
On Milan: Daniel Patrick “Cropped
Road” hoodie. Onia “Danni” bikini top
and “Lily” bikini bottom. 21HM “Lilac”
tiered earrings. Jennifer
Fisher “Reverse Bangle” bracelet
and “Female” ring. (Above right)
On Milan: Jennifer Fisher “Reverse
Bangle” bracelet and “Female” ring.
This page: (Right)
On DeAngelo: Frescobol Carioca
“Linen” shirt. Agolde “Division Cut
Off” shorts. Earring, subject’s own. On
Milan: Agolde “Reputation Shrunken
Renewal” jacket. Onia “Kamryn”
bikini top and “Leila” bikini bottom.
True Religion “Joey Cut Off” shorts.
Jennifer Fisher “Reverse Bangle”
bracelet and “Female” ring.
º
For details, see Where to Buy.
AS #METOO EVOLVES, ACTOR TERRY CREWS AND SOCIAL
JUSTICE ADVOCATE TONY PORTER DISCUSS THE ROLE OF
BLACK MEN IN THE FIGHT TO SUPPORT WOMEN
MODERATED BY REGINA R. ROBERTSON
Eight months ago a shift began, one that rattled our consciousness and made us question what we considered
normal behavior. Last October, when allegations of sexual misconduct began stacking up against Harvey
Weinstein, it seemed as though a scab had been ripped of a never-quite-healed wound. One after another,
nearly 100 women spoke up about their encounters with the now infamous film producer. What followed were
more allegations from countless women against numerous male executives and notable personalities, most of
whom, like Weinstein, were tossed from their pedestals. And let’s not forget that this ball started rolling four
years ago when decades-old rape allegations against Bill Cosby resurfaced.
The recent downfall of rich, powerful men has dominated the headlines, but the issue of sexual violence
against women is, sadly, nothing new. Nor is it unique to Hollywood. In 2006, activist Tarana Burke, senior director
at Girls for Gender Equity, launched the Me Too movement as an outlet for young women of color from lowincome communities who had been victimized. Twelve years later #MeToo has sparked a national conversation,
with actor Terry Crews being the first male celebrity to stand up. By sharing his experience of being assaulted
by a male film agent in 2016, he stood in solidarity with fellow survivors. And although the alleged incident fell
outside of the statute of limitations to pursue criminal charges, Crews is proceeding with a civil lawsuit.
ESSENCE paired Crews with Tony Porter, chief executive oicer of A Call to Men—an organization that
focuses on teaching healthy masculinity to the masses—to share ideas about grooming the next generation, why
it’s important for Black men to hold one another accountable and how they can ofer a hand in pushing the
#MeToo movement forward. We asked one question and they took it from there.
90 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
ESSENCE: Where do you think we are, in this moment, with
the #MeToo movement?
TERRY CREWS: You know, the impact that #MeToo has had
over the past few months has been gigantic. This movement
has crossed all kinds of boundaries—whether it be racial, political or economic—and now we just have to be very careful
that it doesn’t get filed in the “symbolic victory” category.
Even though [Harvey] Weinstein was taken out, there are
still a lot of people who would gladly sacrifice one of their
own so they can continue questionable behavior behind the
scenes. It’s only when people start getting arrested for acts
of violence against women—from domestic abuse and
harassment to rape—that we’ll begin seeing real repercussions. That’s why I’m continuing with my civil lawsuit and
being a part of this movement. I don’t care about the money
and I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I want to be
an example of what it means to hold people accountable, all
the way. It’s about fighting for yourself.
TONY PORTER: I really appreciate what you’ve said, Terry. I’d
also like to add that #MeToo is not the first wave of a women’s
movement. We’ve had several, dating back to the early 1800’s
and right up through the Battered Woman’s Movement. Back
then, men found [solace] in defining those causes as being a
women’s issue, but this is a humanity issue.
Because we live in a male-dominated society, I believe that
one of the reasons why some movements were not successful is
because we, as men, didn’t admit to our responsibility, nor did we
play a role in finding solutions. This is a wonderful time for us to
be on the right side of history, but I also recognize that it comes
on the heels of so much trauma that women have endured.
Having men who are willing to give of themselves and speak
about issues from a personal [standpoint] is the way we’re going
to engage other men. That’s what’s been missing.
TIM ROB B ERTS/G E T T Y IMAG ES
CREWS: Agreed. And we, as Black men, can really see [the
inequality] when it’s between White and Black people, but
when it’s between men and women, even among our own,
men have had the tendency to look at women as not quite
[equal] or that they’ve got rights up to a point....
PORTER: Historically speaking—and we can go back to Sister
Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer, to
the Civil Rights Movement with Rosa Parks, a little later with
Audre Lorde and Angela Davis, and even now with Tarana
Burke and the sisters who started Black Lives Matter—Black
women have had our backs from jump street. They’ve carried
this torch, and we’ve really got to get in this space in a much
bigger, more critical way, as Black men joining arms with our
sisters. We can’t do that by practicing male domination.
Holding men accountable is very important. When you
look at men, collectively, there’s a minority who perpetrate
violence against women and girls. The majority of men don’t,
and that’s the group we have to be intentional in reaching. It’s
the rest of us, that majority, who create the “fertile ground”
that abusive men rely upon.
»
At A Call to Men, we’re teaching boys what it means to be
a man. We believe that we’re the first generation of men
who are actually being asked in a crucial way to promote
healthy manhood. Individually, men have always done it,
but there’s never been a situation where we’re asking men
to really invest in the next generation.
CREWS: It’s true that the majority of men don’t commit violence or engage in harassment, but there is an overarching
belief that men are somehow above women. I’m guilty of
having believed that I was more valuable than the women in
my life, simply because I’m a man. I learned that from living
in a patriarchal society. Everything leans toward the man
being the boss. Even as a son, you’re treated better. It’s
inherent. It’s also why men get
paid more and why we get
more props. Just think about
when somebody says that
you’re doing something “like a
girl,” you know?
What’s funny about Twitter
is that you can type in your
name and “hear” so many conversations about yourself. And
I eavesdrop…I do. Just recently, a
Black man tweeted, “Terry
Crews wants to be one of the
girls,” as if being a woman is
weak or terrible, as if I was
demeaning
or
degrading
myself. That was his attitude.
CREWS: When I was about 12 years old, I remember liking a
girl. So I went to an older guy and said, “Man, I’m so nervous.
92 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
A FATHERLESS
GENERATION
PORTER: When I hear you talk
about growing up in a home
where domestic violence was
present, I think of the young
men we speak to. Today we
estimate that 80 percent of
men who abuse women grew
up in a home where abuse was
present. Now, we’re not suggesting that 80 percent of the
men who grew up in an abusive
home became abusive. Instead,
we’re saying that if you put 100
men who are abusers in a room
and ask if abuse happened in
their home, 80 of them would
raise their hands.
There’s also an epidemic of
fatherlessness in the United
States. It crosses all cultural
boundaries, but within our
group [the Black community], a
sizable percentage of our boys
are growing up without a dad
present in the home. And I’m not talking about a noncustodial dad. I’m talking about “fatherless,” which is a fairly new
term that means there’s no dad [around] whatsoever. It
THIS MOVEMENT HAS
CROSSED ALL KINDS
OF BOUNDARIES—
WHETHER IT BE RACIAL,
POLITICAL OR ECONOMIC.”
—TERRY CREWS
B ENJO ARWAS
PORTER: That man coming at
you on social media is a perfect
example of why we have to be
intentional now. As this movement slows down and the pressure reduces a little bit, men are
gathering their footing and
Terry Crews
looking to circle around one
another to fight back.
Questioning someone’s manhood is a way that men put
one another back into the Man Box. That’s a phrase we
coined at A Call to Men some years ago. We use it because
it’s catchy, but from an academic perspective, it’s about the
collective socialization of manhood. We ask men to envision
a box and all the ingredients that go inside that define what
it means to be a man—that men are supposed to be tough,
courageous and athletic. And then there’s the idea that we
don’t ask for, ofer or accept help, and that, with the exception of anger, we don’t share our feelings and emotions. Also
that we’re taught to place less value on women and treat
them as property and sexual objects.
What do I say…what do I do?” He told me to lie to her. “Let me
put you up on game, young man,” he said. “Don’t ever show
love, but tell her you love her because you want sex, then you
move on. In fact, you want more than just one girl.” That’s the
advice I got and I was hurt by it. I was just a kid, you know?
My son is 13, and he’s not going to grow up in the same
world that I grew up in. He’s not going to be exposed to pimp
culture, and he doesn’t have a father who beats the mess out
of his mother. I watched my father beat my mother, which
caused me major emotional trauma. I think of all the women
in my life who’ve been scarred by abuse and how [the cycle
has perpetuated]. They might say to their sons, “You ain’t s--t,
just like your daddy wasn’t s--t,” and it starts all over again.
We have to stop that cycle with our generation.
“EVEN IF WE’RE TALKING
TO BOYS WHO ARE NOT
OUR BIOLOGICAL SONS,
WE CAN SAY, ‘I LOVE
YOU…I CARE ABOUT
YOU.’ THEY NEED TO
HEAR THAT.
—TONY PORTER
LEROY HARDEN
could be that your mom has mentioned him or maybe
you’ve met him once or twice…and that’s it.
There is a generation of
boys who need men like us to
Tony Porter
really put in time. Otherwise,
this epidemic will continue.
We can talk about sports and
say, “That was a good shot,”
but I think it’s also important
to talk about love. I’m very
intentional with my three
sons.
Our
conversations
begin and end with, “I love
you.” Even if we’re talking to
boys who are not our biological sons, we can say, “I love
you…I care about you.” They
need to hear that.
You know, Terry, I’ve followed
your
career—from
playing football to being an
actor. I’m sure that a lot of
men like your tough-guy
roles in action movies, but I
enjoyed your work on Everybody Hates Chris the most.
With your character, Julius,
you modeled a dad in the
home. He wasn’t perfect, but
he was making it happen, holding it down with a regular
9-to-5 and loving his family.
CREWS: Thank you, man. What was so great about Julius
was that he respected his wife. She was an equal and he
listened to her. Julius knew she was wise. Like him, I might
have strength and muscles, but as I’ve often said, my wife
tells me where things should go. I may be able to lift mountains, but she says, “Pick that up and put that over here,”
and I’m like, “I got you.” That’s how being a team works.
She sees things I can’t see, but I’ve had to challenge
myself, too. For instance, I had an addiction to pornography. As a man, I believed that sex was owed to me. When
I didn’t get it, I used pornography as a crutch. My wife’s
fearlessness in saying, “I’m done…that’s enough,” and my
realization that I chose to believe the lie about what I was
owed are what made me revamp my whole life.
Another thing that men don’t realize is that success ofers the
[safest] place to hide. There’s this halo efect, and while everybody else is thinking that you’re the greatest, you know it’s all
bulls--t—that the “real you” is messed up. That’s why it’s so surprising to learn who these men really are, the ones we thought
were at the top of their games. It’s like, what happened?
RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
PORTER: It’s so important for men to hear someone like
you talk about your challenges, because it allows us to be
vulnerable. It allows us to do our own self-exploration and
then really connect where we are on our journeys.
When you speak about your
addiction to pornography, I
think about boys as young as
10 years old today first viewing
pornography. That’s a fifthgrader. They think they’re
learning about sex, but what
they don’t realize is that they’re
learning about the hatred of
women. If we don’t grab a hold
of them quickly, they’ll soon be
viewing pornography on a regular basis and misogyny really
starts to set in.
It’s incumbent upon us, as
Black men, in relationship to our
responsibility and accountability
to Black women, to have our
voices out there. If we want
men to have a transformational
experience, which is how we
believe they become better
men, it’s by grabbing their
hearts. And most of that we do
by sharing experiences with
one another and being transparent. We need to keep this
thing going, and we need men like you, Terry, to keep speaking
to our young brothers. They will listen.
CREWS: It feels like all the things I’ve ever done in my life and
career have brought me to this point, where I can speak and
[have] people hear me. That’s why I’m so thankful for people
like you, Tony…that we can actually have this conversation.
I’m unifying with you.
º
Regina R. Robertson (@reginarobertson) is ESSENCE’s West
Coast editor.
Check out Terry Crews in Deadpool 2, in theaters now, and Sorry to
Bother You, which hits screens nationwide on July 6. For more information about Tony Porter and A Call to Men, visit acalltomen.org.
94 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
PAWEL K AMINSKI/LIFE TIM E (2)
Anthony L. Williams’s
winning collection
for season six of Project
Runway All Stars
Not All
Heroes
Wear Capes
MEET PROJECT RUNWAY ALL STAR’S FANTASTIC 5—
THE MEN OF COLOR WHO COMBINED STYLE
FORCES TO PRODUCE THE SHOW’S FIRST
AFRICAN-AMERICAN MALE WINNER
BY MARJON CARLOS
T
he Fantastic 5 members of season six’s
Project Runway All Stars are not necessarily superheroes nor are they a boy
band. Their name, however, would highly suggest that they’re a hybrid of both. But that isn’t
to say that the series’ finalists—designers Fabio
Costa, Stanley Hudson, Ken Laurence, Edmond
Newton and Anthony L. Williams—lack a
Herculean strength. In fact, that’s what made
them stars on reality television’s biggest runway.
Collaborating to beat their opponents, these
men ensured that the grand prize of $100,000 and
fashion superstardom went to a man of color. “[We
said], ‘We’re going to stack the deck by helping one
another get to the top five. If there are four of us,
we know one of us is going to win,’ ” says Anthony
L. Williams. The foppish fan favorite, known for his
signature sweet-as-pie southern charm, eventually
captured the crown with his polished “Audrey
Hepburn meets Rihanna”–inspired finale collection—the first time a Black male contestant has
won in the franchise’s history
Like the fellas’ nimble needlework, their strategy was a shrewd move and one
of the biggest forms of resistance within an industry that is only beginning to
warm to the idea of diversity among its ranks. The PRAS audience and panel of
unflappable judges—including fashion masters Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina
Chapman, who are regulars, and a rotating roster of famous guest judges—were
none the wiser of the pact. But the growing brotherhood was undeniable to all,
and Williams believes it’s what pushed the Fantastic 5’s artistry and cemented
internal trust. “There were moments when everyone got defeated in the competition,” he says. “On those couture and evening challenges, we had to help one
another. A lot of people leaned on me because I did couture and evening wear.
So we really leaned on each other’s expertise.”
ANTHONY L.
WILLIAMS
»
The act was perhaps anathema to
Project Runway’s famously cutthroat
tone (“You’re either in or you’re out…”), but
it was one that Williams had honed in his
drag queen heyday while he was a
University of Alabama undergraduate.
Working the “pageant” circuit to help pay
for school taught the Birmingham,
Alabama, native to have a certain grace
under fire. “When I competed in pageants,
I competed against my friends. I brought
that thought process [to Project
Runway],” he says. His softer, “community first” approach paid of, but Williams
was also a strict self-disciplinarian.
Before filming began, the 37-year-old
sharpened his skills as a seamster, putting himself through a boot camp of sorts
that helped him focus and quicken his
rendering: “On Project Runway you
have to execute thought. It’s that
balance between ‘I have to design
something I can sew.’ ”
If fans thought Williams had toned
down his aesthetic for the All Stars show,
he’s fine with that. He came to win, after all.
But despite this season’s historic gains, it
wasn’t without a downside. The show’s
connection to Harvey Weinstein didn’t go
unnoticed. Up until the scandal and ensuing publicity of the #MeToo movement,
judge Chapman had been married to the
media mogul. He also served as the
programs’ executive producer. Williams
believes the controversy slowed the
marketing and promotion of an otherwise
amazing success story. Hardly deterred,
he has set his sights on a host of opportunities, from costume designing for T.I.’s
upcoming film, The Trap, to entertaining
licensing deals to launching a custom
collection to taking a contributing editor
role at Marie Claire (another part of his
grand prize). “I used to be a costume
designer on Centric’s Single Ladies, and
[while] I was working on the show, [former
BET chairman and CEO] Debra Lee invited
Letoya Luckett and me to Art Basel as her
guests. And I remember Debra Lee saying,
‘You have to protest through your presence.’ I don’t think there was anything
for me to protest through my presence at
Project Runway this season, but I
thought a celebration through my presence could take place, and I feel like that’s
what we accomplished.”
96 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
THE
WINNER
1
THE DESIGNERS
1 ANTHONY L.
WILLIAMS
Stylish magpie Williams is a threetime Project Runway vet who took
home gold in the sixth season of
Project Runway All Stars. Known for
his polished and glamorous eveningwear, the Birmingham, Alabama,
native tells ESSENCE that it wasn’t
just the support of the Fantastic 5
that got him through the competition.
His stint as a former drag queen had
also prepared him for the spotlight!
2 KEN LAURENCE
The Project Runway season 12
alum, Laurence, 29, is a self-taught
designer who also hails from Birmingham,
Alabama. Fantasia Barrino, Love & Hip
Hop: Atlanta’s Mimi Faust and even the
mother of Migos, Ofset, are fans of his
menswear-inspired pieces. But he says
he’s here for the “everyday woman too.”
Still, Solange, Zendaya and Rihanna
remain atop his dream client list. With his
eponymous line launching in September,
Laurence may just get his wish.
PAWEL K AMINSKI/LIFE TIM E (5). SE WING MACHINE, SAI ADIT YA / THE NOU N PROJ ECT.
2
3
4
5
AT A GLANCE
3 EDMOND
NEWTON
With his penchant for the fabulous,
it’s no wonder Newton is a standout.
The former model and Project
Runway season 14 third place finisher
is known for bringing unadulterated
glamour and flash to those on the
runway and off. With plans to expand
his custom line, the Atlantan is also
busy working on his memoir.
4 STANLEY
HUDSON
Making it to the final three in season 11
with his classic, minimalist designs,
Hudson, 51, stood out this season of All
Stars as the talented pro he is. The Los
Angelean got his start as a stylist for
music videos after graduating from Otis
College. He attributes his internship with
Bob Mackie 20 years ago as a game
changer. Ever since, he’s been crafting
pieces for private patrons, and we can see
his work on ABC’s black-ish.
5 FABIO COSTA
With his genderless line,
NotEqual, the Brazilian-born Costa
pushes the boundaries—his All Stars
finale collection centered on memory
and extreme proportions. Still, the
Project Runway season ten runnerup, who lives in New York City, is just
as well known for his own personal
standout style. (Check out his
“sleeves” or tattooed arms.)
º
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 97
SHOWCASE
My hair is a garden and I take care of it.
Availab
le
where
books
are sold
TO A DV E R T I S E C O N TAC T 1 . 8 0 0 . 9 3 8 . 4 6 6 0
Celebrate natural black hair.
JUNE 2018
GO
HARD
AND GO
HOME
Yes, your career can directly
impact your romantic
prospects. In her new book,
Boss Bride: The Powerful
Woman’s Playbook for Love
and Success, ESSENCE Senior
Editor Charreah K. Jackson
explores how. Here she gives
us exclusive tips on ways to
find satisfaction in your
personal and professional life
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATASHA HATENDI
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 99
LOVE & LIFE : BOSS BRIDE GUIDE
I
entered 2008 with the goal to gain at least 200 pounds
every two weeks. That’s right. I wanted a full serving of a
man on a date at least twice a month. As long as he had a
nice smile and solid values and was financially stable, I was
open to meeting him. I had settled in to my
job and cute apartment in New York City.
What was missing was a steamy love life. I
realized that, like the position and the place,
hot dates were not going to come find me. I
had to be proactive about achieving the
connection I craved. And let me tell you, my
life transformed when I leaned in to love.
Over the past ten years, I’ve traveled the
world learning the secrets of successful daters
and couples, while navigating the workforce. It
is an honor to serve you as I hunt down the
latest on matters of the heart—from walking
around Harlem asking women about their most recent orgasm
to producing surprise marriage proposals at Walt Disney World
to speaking at last year’s Europe Dating Awards in Amsterdam.
I share my research, including insight from more than 100
working wives, in Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman’s Playbook
for Love and Success (St. Martin’s Press). Below are the top
strategies to increase your satisfaction.
into the mentality to make today one of your best days. Before
turning 30, I had battled cancer, been laid of from my dream
position and found out I was the other woman. I learned early to
own my power and live in the now. My biggest Boss Bride
moments came on the same June day two
years ago. That morning I got the contract to
write this book (hell, yeah!) and that evening I
left a relationship with a man I had thought I
would marry (ah, hell!). I did what was right for
me, not focusing on what it looked like. It was
the perfect chance to recommit to the one
person who would be with me every day of my
life: the woman in the mirror. When I was
courageous enough to meet the best me and
make a vow to always love her, my life
blossomed to include dates on diferent
continents and even a new soul mate. That
taught me people don’t treat you the way you treat them;
people treat you the way they see you treat yourself.
You are
living in your
own love story
right now. It’s
time to declare
your destiny.
OWN YOUR INNER BOSS BRIDE
“So what is a Boss Bride?” you ask, giving me a side-eye. Well,
she’s a woman who fuses the characteristics of an efective
boss—focus, strategy, delegation—with the best qualities of a
bride at her wedding: being happy and charming and enjoying
the moment. Every woman can be a Boss Bride whether she has
been married for ten years or is unsure if she ever wants to say “I
do.” No matter your job title or relationship status, you can tap
100 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
PRIORITIZE LOVE
There’s a reason the cruelest punishment in prison is to be
placed in solitary confinement, in an isolated room with no
contact to the outside world. We were not created to be alone.
So decisions on who we share our hearts, bodies and beds with
are the most important ones we can make. Set a goal for how
you will expand love in your life this summer and put it on the
calendar. One of the best habits of happy working wives was to
schedule their personal lives just as they did in their careers.
WRITE THE EPILOGUE
You are living in your own love story right now and it’s time to
declare your destiny. In coaching I have clients fast-forward
and write about their sixty-fifth birthday party. Who is there?
What are you proud to have accomplished? What are you
doing in your life and where do you live? Take time to
imagine your tomorrow to better plan today.
DEFINE YOUR LOVE AND
SUCCESS SQUAD
The most important possession of a Boss Bride is
a ring—the ringing of your phone. My book exists because
my friend Adenike Olanrewaju connected me to literary
agent Regina Brooks. I met Oprah Winfrey
because my girl Alicia Quarles invited me
to an event. It is essential that you identify
and cultivate your support system to have
the life you desire.
Assess your network for the following
roles and commit to expand where needed:
My team: People who help bring my
dreams to life.
My support: People who care for my
well-being.
My sponsors: People who connect me to opportunities.
My advisers: Accomplished people with sound insight.
My protégés: People who can learn from me.
My rabbits: People who show what’s possible for my next.
To expand my Love and Success Squad, I joined The Wing,
a social club and a network of coworking community spaces
for women with locations in New York City and D.C. that’s
growing globally. The community includes powerful women
like recording artist Candice Hoyes, I Don’t Do Clubs founder
Genese Jamilah, and Geenie cofounder and CEO Chana Ginelle
Ewing, pictured above with me (from left) at the SoHo location.
Geenie ofers GeenieBox, a monthly collection of positive
lifestyle products curated by influential Black women including
Michelle Williams and Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse
Khan-Cullors. The June box is curated by yours truly, thanks to
my squad. Learn more about this collection at geeniebox.com.
TEND TO YOUR
ALL ICONS , TH E NOU N PROJ ECT
It is essential TICKING CLOCK
that you identify As a proud feminist, I know there is still no way
around the fact that our beautiful bodies have
and cultivate
optimal fertility. We are born with all the eggs
we will ever have biologically, and 35 is the
your support
average age a woman’s egg health begins to
system.
decline, according to the National Institutes of
Health. Recent breakthroughs have vastly
improved the success of preserving a woman’s egg for future
pregnancies through freezing, which many employers are now
covering. If having biological children is a goal, make sure to ask
your gynecologist to test your anti-Mullerian hormone as well as
follicle-stimulating hormone levels, which are believed to be
indicators of your fertility. And since your eggs are still with you,
treat your body as if you were already pregnant: with care.
»
IN CASE OF EMERGEN-CHIC
One day at the oice, ESSENCE Digital Director Yolanda Sangweni asked, “What are you doing tonight?” I didn’t have plans
but happened to be dressed as if I had somewhere to go. A few hours later, I was taking a selfie with Taraji P. Henson at
Chaka Khan’s sixtieth birthday party. Stay ready for unexpected invites and dates by keeping a few stylish pieces at work:
A clutch in your
purse or drawer (you
can check your work bag
when you get to the event)
A little black dress or
a simple sleek outfit
stashed for when
opportunity knocks
Earrings or accessories that can pop
with any ensemble
A comfortable (and
cute) pair of heels
LOVE & LIFE : BOSS BRIDE GUIDE
GO HARD AND GO HOME
YOUR PERIOD,
YOUR MOVE.
Even with an amazing career, you cannot marry your job. Being your best requires a
balanced life to go hard at work, then go home. For a Boss Bride, going HARD has a
recipe: Heart Actions. Researched Decisions. Focus on your heart’s desires, then
make informed choices. At a dinner party earlier this year, an old friend—and former
ESSENCE Single Man of the Month—asked me out (that’s him as my man prop on the
opening page of this article). I was hesitant to accept at first because I had only ever
seen him in terms of a platonic relationship. When I took the time to get to know him
and looked at the qualities I wanted in a partner—thanks to checking my checklist as
outlined in the book’s third chapter—I realized he was worth a shot. I’ve been pleasantly
surprised and am glad I said yes to an opportunity that I almost missed out on.
FEED YOUR FEMININITY
One of the best gifts you can give yourself is to unlock your sensuality, that
powerful energy source. Many pages of Boss Bride were written while I was
wearing my furry kitten heels that I had snagged on a trip to Paris. Commit to
doing whatever it takes to feel like a goddess. The more turned on you are by
your own self, the more unstoppable you become.
Boss Bride Bill of Rights
8 PERMISSION SLIPS FOR ME, A MODERN WOMAN
1
I have the right to define joy and success for myself and seek them. I am
responsible for my happiness. I can love on my terms and change my
mind at any time.
I have the right to prioritize my personal life without sacrificing
success. Who I spend my time with is just as important as my career.
I can go HARD and go home.
3
I have the right to put caring for myself at the top of my to-do list
every day. The better I take care of me, the more I have to give to
the world.
4
I have the right to demand my worth in every scenario. I am worthy of
respect at all times, the pay my talents merit, the relationships my
heart craves and anything else my soul desires.
5
6
7
I have the right to create boundaries in every area of
my life and to teach people how to treat me.
8
I have the right to live in the moment. This very second
is one I will never see again, so I will soak it all in.
I have the right to be vulnerable, which is a strength, not a weakness.
My truth is my power.
I have the right to ask for help whenever I need it.
Life is a team sport and I will actively seek support
and community.
Get a free bonus chapter of the book at bossbride.com.
Follow ESSENCE Senior Editor, Lifestyle & Relationships
Charreah K. Jackson on Instagram @CHARREAH.
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LOVE & LIFE : MEN’S HEALTH
BEATING
THE ODDS
JUNE IS MEN’S HEALTH MONTH. LET’S
BE PROACTIVE ABOUT HELPING OUR
BROTHERS STAY PHYSICALLY,
MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY FIT
H ERO C RE ATIVE /G E T T Y IMAG ES
BY TRACY E. HOPKINS
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 105
LOVE & LIFE : MEN’S HEALTH
W
hile the life expectancy of
Americans has increased,
on average AfricanAmerican men still live four years less
than their White counterparts—72.2
years versus 76.6, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). Among the leading
causes of death for our men are heart
disease, cancer and strokes, often
exacerbated by coping with stress.
“We live in a society that is bombarding us with the message that we are less
valuable,” says Thomas LaVeist, Ph.D.,
dean of the School of Public Health and
Tropical Medicine at Tulane University.
“We deal with that through self-medication, most commonly sugar, salt and
unsafe sex.”
LaVeist is a cofounder of the Black
Men’s Health Project, a coalition of Black
male health researchers that is surveying 10,000 Black men. “We need to talk
about health. We need to ask each
other, ‘Did you get a flu shot and have a
prostate cancer screening?’ ” he says.
COMBATING
A TOXIC CULTURE
106 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
TOP 10 CAUSES
OF DEATH FOR
BLACK MEN
1 Heart disease 24.1%
2 Cancer 22.2%
3 Unintentional injuries 6.1%
4 Stroke 4.9%
5 Homicide 4.3%
6 Diabetes 4.1%
7 Chronic lower respiratory
diseases 3.2%
8 Kidney diseases 2.6%
9 Septicemia (blood poisoning
from bacterial infection) 1.9%
10 Influenza and pneumonia 1.7%
Source: Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention
Finding healthy
outlets to relieve
stress extends the
life of our men.
I dreaded telling my wife. She felt I wasn’t
serious enough about my health. She was
right,” Ceasar says. “After much processing, prayer and tears, I took action.”
The first step the assistant director
of student life at Loyola University
Maryland in Baltimore took was finding a
nutritionist to heal his relationship with
food. Within a year he lost 30 pounds by
changing his diet and lifestyle and was
no longer at risk for heart disease and
diabetes. He has maintained his new size
and plans to shed more. “Before I lost
the weight, I felt defeated and carried a
lot of shame,” admits Ceasar. “I recently
looked in the mirror while in the gym
and thought, You’re big, you’re sexy and
everything is okay right now.”
Part of his daily regimen is eating
nutrient-rich meals full of vegetables and
whole grains and drinking at least 64
ounces of water. To control his anxiety
and stress, Ceasar sees a therapist,
meditates, keeps a gratitude journal,
does improv comedy and shakes it of
with hip-hop dance classes.
“As Black men, we’re not taught to
take care of ourselves. We get messages to work hard, be tough, never
complain, don’t trust doctors and if
you’re hurt, get over it,” Ceasar says.
»
MAT TH E W LEE TE /G E T T Y IMAG ES
The socioeconomic, behavioral and
environmental factors such as lack of
access to quality care, distrust of doctors,
family trauma, unemployment and
systemic racism lead to stress, which,
LaVeist says, is at the core of every health
issue that impacts Black men. Too often
they escape into comfort food diets that
are high in sugar and salt. “It’s protective
of our psychological health, but impacts
our body. Over time excessive sugar and
salt leads to diseases like diabetes and
hypertension,” LaVeist says.
“Racism takes a major toll on the
bodies of African-American men,” adds
Roland J. Thorpe, Jr., M.S., Ph.D.,
director, program for research on men’s
health, Hopkins Center for Health
Disparities Solutions, John Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Health. And even
when the odds are against them, Black
men can overcome health challenges.
To cope with feelings of inadequacy,
Sinclair P. Ceasar III found comfort in
food. As an adolescent, the now
30-year-old recalls sitting in front of the
television with his father devouring
hoagies, chips and oatmeal creme pies.
“I’ve always been a binge
eater, and was never
satisfied with one plate.
Family reunions were the
worst, because they
ofered my favorite
comfort foods. I remember once eating three
plates of mac and cheese,”
he says. “As I got older, I
realized I overeat to cope
with stress and anxiety. I’d
rather feel full or almost
sick than be anxious.”
The CDC reports that
nearly 40 percent of Black
men over 20 are obese—
defined as an adult with a
body mass index of 30
and up—and more than
40 percent of Black men
over age 20 have high
blood pressure (hypertension), which, if left
uncontrolled, can lead to
heart attack and stroke.
In 2016 at age 28 Ceasar weighed
287 pounds. With encouragement from
his wife, Tynesha, he set up a series of
doctor’s appointments, including a visit
with a primary care physician, who
diagnosed him with prediabetes,
prehypertension and obesity—conditions that disproportionately afect
African-American men.
“It was a scary time for me, and
LOVE & LIFE : MEN’S HEALTH
To temper depression while studying at
Morehouse College, Lawrence Trapp, Sr., turned to
alcohol. “It started as regular college stuf at
parties, but eventually I drank daily to cope with
my emotions.” The 25-year-old didn’t recognize his
drinking was problematic but his peers did. “One
day another student called me out for smelling like
alcohol. I told myself, You’ve got to chill.” Initially,
Trapp resisted getting professional help. The
National Alliance on Mental Illness reports one
quarter of African-Americans seek mental health
care, compared with 40 percent of Whites.
Discovering that his grandmother sufered from
alcoholism, which ultimately killed her, was a
turning point. “That was another wake-up call that
if I didn’t start taking care of my addiction and
dealing with my depression in a healthy way, this
self-medicating could take me out,” he says. With his parents’
support, Trapp took a year of from school and moved back
to San Diego where he sought counseling and attended
Alcoholics Anonymous.
“My parents are invincible and never gave up on me,” he
says. These days, Trapp uses exercise as a healthy outlet.
“Exercise takes my mind to the place I was looking for when I
was abusing alcohol,” he says. “I also communicate openly
instead of letting things fester.”
STAYING ON THE OFFENSE
Because of their higher risk, Black men should begin
prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam
(DRE) testing annually at age 35, rather than 45.
“My doctors credited my commitment to screenings,
exercise and nutrition for my ability to endure the surgery
and recover quickly and completely,” Edmond says. Now
cancer-free, the multitasking married father of four never
misses a workout: He weight-trains five to seven days a week
for up to 75 minutes. He recently celebrated his fifty-eighth
birthday with a workout and a selfie tagged #Operation
6packat60. “I am in better shape now than I was 30 years
ago,” he says.
“Every year lost to avoidable, premature death equals
a loss in potential average earnings,” Edmond notes. So every
Black man who dies at age 47—which is 25 years sooner than
his average life expectancy—is possibly leaving $1.2 million in
earning potential on the table. “It is a price that we as Black
people cannot aford to pay,” Edmond adds.
In order to live fuller and longer lives, LaVeist says that Black
men must make their health a priority, including managing
stress with support from fraternities, churches and other
nurturing groups and spaces. “We want to ensure that Black
families have husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles for
longer,” he says of the Black Men’s Health Project. We do, too.
º
Invite the guys in your life to visit blackmenshealthproject.org to
learn more and share their story.
RESOURCES FOR HIM
ADD THESE ESSENTIAL READS AND WEB SITES TO YOUR MUST LIST (AND HIS)
The Black Man’s Guide to Good Health: Essential
Advice for African-American Men and Their Families
by James W. Reed, M.D., and Neil Shulman, M.D.
Standing in the Shadows: Understanding and
Overcoming Depression in Black Men by John Head
The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes
by Constance Brown-Riggs with Tamara Jefries
108 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
Loving in the Grown Zone: A No-Nonsense Guide to
Making Healthy Decisions in the Quest for Loving,
Romantic Relationships of Honor, Esteem, and Respect
by Alfred A. Edmond, Jr., and Zara D. Green
Black Men Run: blkmenrun.com
Black Men’s Health Initiative: bmhi.org
100 Black Men of America, Inc.: 100blackmen.org
FROM LEF T: MARK EDWARD ATKINSON/G E T T Y IMAG ES; TASSII/G E T T Y IMAG ES .
Prioritizing physical fitness and being proactive has helped
Alfred A. Edmond, Jr., maintain optimal health. In 2009 the
amateur bodybuilder, veteran financial journalist and
relationship coach found out he had prostate cancer.
Because he has a family history of the disease, early
detection was his saving grace.
“If you wait to experience symptoms, you’ve waited too
long, dramatically reducing treatment options. That’s why
annual tests are important,” says Edmond, who started
checking his prostate in his thirties. He had his prostate
removed, and fortunately hasn’t experienced some of the
possible side efects of prostate cancer treatment, including
erectile dysfunction and incontinence. Research shows that
prostate cancer is almost 60 percent higher in AfricanAmerican men, and the mortality rate is two to three times
greater than White men’s, a risk increased with obesity.
Trade sugar
and salt for
fruits and
veggies.
SHOWCASE
TO A DV E R T I S E C O N TAC T 1 . 8 0 0 . 9 3 8 . 4 6 6 0
JUNE 2018
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ESSENCEINSIDERS.COM
June ushers in the beginning of the
hazy, lazy days of summer. It may not
be hot enough to sunbathe daily, but
with five planets in retrograde by the
end of the month, life is definitely
downshifting. The lag with Mars will be
felt instantly due to that heavenly body
usually promoting motivation and
action. There’s a minor halt in productivity from June 26 to August 27, during
which misunderstandings ensue or
couples postpone intimate moments.
The good news: People are restoring
their energy and reevaluating their next
steps. The bad news: Impatience grows
where calm may be needed most.
Everything happens for reasons
beyond our understanding.
GEMINI
May 21 to June 20
Gemini season is here. Now watch the
other signs eat your dust. You’re at the
top of your game mentally, and forge
ahead with ideas of furthering your
education or gathering information for
spiritual pursuits. The prerequisite for
these new adventures is the unearthing of buried truths. Everyone knows
you prefer things to be light and airy,
but taking brief moments to heal your
heart will lead to a better celebration.
.
CANCER
June 21 to July 22
This month presents a weird duality:
You feel pulled between rational
understanding and intuitive strength.
Listen to your gut as it speaks louder
with an honesty you never expected.
Follow your heart regarding creative
and/or romantic endeavors. Happiness can be achieved with a fun and
delightful activity. Life is the adventure worth taking a risk for.
LEO
110 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
VIRGO
August 23 to September 22
It’s not easy for analytical Virgos to
make decisions because you require
your ducks to be in a row before you
do. You’re being urged to take the
next step in your career without
fear. Turn to a family member to
assist in devising a new way to spark
your imagination and bring about
change. Personal discipline has
recently been your saving grace.
Trust the work; you’re well prepared.
LIBRA
September 23 to October 22
Get ready for your mind to be blown
this June as you find an appetite for
expanding your interests. Discovering
new places to vacation, going back to
school and/or tackling a religious
vocation may consume a large part of
your days. This newfound inspiration
could be used to improve your home
or family connection by bringing
ideas and people together. Ultimately,
the more you share your knowledge,
the more your loved ones will smile.
PHILECE ROB ERTS
July 23 to August 22
The light of generosity shines through
you this month. Most people are
unaware of your huge heart because
your gregarious nature seems wildly
self-serving. However, you give in
many ways. Your friends benefit the
most now, as you seize opportunities
to spoil them with gifts and day trips,
and share information of interest.
You may reap surprising benefits
when you extend yourself. Participation in love is a two-way street.
PROMOTION
SCORPIO
October 23 to November 21
Being passive-aggressive is not your
usual style, but you often wait for the
right time to communicate your truth.
This month stand firm and ask for what
you want: money owed, an inheritance
promised or a renegotiated deal. Your
sensitivity to an issue may burn
bridges rather than find solutions.
Choose your words wisely, and always
keep your eyes on the bigger picture.
SAGITTARIUS
November 22 to December 21
Freedom is more vital to you than the
air you breathe. Unfortunately, this
can be misunderstood as selfishness. Express your feelings and
provide support to your partners.
Communication is paramount in
building relationships. Share your
free spirit by relaying what independence afords you. Maybe you can
motivate those around you to have
some new experiences.
CAPRICORN
December 22 to January 19
Most are familiar with your serious
disposition and ambitious nature but
are unaware that there’s also a sly lover
lurking within. You enjoy planning a
weekend getaway or writing a series of
love letters and placing them around
the house. Use that romantic vigor,
and watch it find its way back to
you like the sweetest boomerang.
AQUARIUS
January 20 to February 18
Mars, the action planet, is in your sign,
giving you a burst of physical energy.
You’re on a mission to execute creative
projects, organize fun activities for kids
or uncover fresh ways to melt the
heart of your significant other.
Everyone is happy when you activate
a detailed plan, although many may
miss the purpose of your actions
based on the detached way you
operate. We know excess emotions
tend to cloud your point of view.
PISCES
February 19 to March 20
Confrontation is not your strong suit,
but every disagreement doesn’t have
to end in devastation. Take a deep
breath and just do it: Have that difficult
talk with a friend or stand up for
yourself in a group setting. Lead with
your heart in every conversation, and
remember how generous you are with
your time. If someone takes ofense to
your defending your personal truth,
maybe you should get the broom and
sweep them out the front door.
More of
What You
Love is On
ARIES
March 21 to April 19
You waltz into June with your mind
focused on obtaining several
streams of income. There’s a sense
of pride and accomplishment about
you. You may feel inclined to invest
in new furniture or simple beautification projects at home. At the very
least, hire someone to clean your
place from top to bottom. As busy
as you’ve been, your domain could
probably use a touch of TLC.
TAURUS
April 20 to May 20
Your cool demeanor may convince
others that nothing rattles your cage,
but you’re as prone to insecurities as
anyone. Concentrate on improving
your quality of life and projecting a
confident attitude. Although your work
ethic has long made you indispensable,
colleagues suddenly realize that you’re
worth your weight in gold. Keep
beaming your light to the world.
º
Horoscope by astrological intuit Sonja Marie (wordlifeastrology.com).
Copyright © 2018 by Essence Communications, Inc. (ISSN-0014-0880) (GST 126301159) Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No.
40110178. ESSENCE is published monthly, except January and August, by Essence Communications Inc., 241 37th St., Brooklyn NY
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requests, please visit timeinc.com/syndication or call 212-522-5868. It will take customers to our automated syndication form.
JUNE 2018 ESSENCE .COM 111
SEE
WHAT’S HOT
RIGHT NOW!
CROSSWORD PUZZLE
26 DOWN brings
the energy to
the Starz hit
series Power as
LaKeisha.
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF
BLACK HISTORY, POP CULTURE
AND ESSENCE TRIVIA
Puzzle by Jan Buckner Walker of Kids Across/
Parents Down. The Kids Across Parents Down family
activity book series is available on amazon.com.
ACROSS
112 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
13. Rep. Maxine, who was one
of ESSENCE December 2017/
January 2018 cover stars
14. Punny Perry: Critics were
not kind to Tyler’s 2008 flick,
The Family That ____
18. ’Twas the night before
2018: New Year’s ___
19. Rappers Kim and Wayne
never seem to outgrow it
20. A mammogram is an ____
you can pass without studying
21. Lady who spiced up the
2013 American Music Awards
with “Do What U Want,” a
duet with R. Kelly
23. Letters on a Vegas-bound
letter (abbr.)
24. FUBU in fashion or Roc
Nation in music
27. Sister who helped launch
Deréon, the sister line of
House of Deréon
28. Like father: Oscar winner
whom John David Washington
of HBO’s Ballers calls Dad
29. Mixtape master who
looked to Future to collaborate
on “What a Time to Be Alive”
1. It’s undoubtedly Samuel
L. Jackson’s favorite kind
of fiction
2. Star bright: JHud and
Angela Bassett, along with
Forest Whitaker and Mary
J. Blige, brought good
tidings to the screen in
2013’s Black _ _ _ _
3. Spellbinding practice that
many believe uses spells and
dolls for healing or harm
4. This music genre is the
truth
5. Kendrick’s To Pimp a
_ _ _ _ floated to the top of
the charts
7. Classic sci-fi show on which
Whoopi played Guinan, the
bartender in the lounge of the
Enterprise-D: ____: The Next
Generation (2 wds)
12. A kiss and a hug,
received via text
13. The poet Phillis, the first
Black woman to be published in the U.S.
14. Rev-ed up: Delivered
the word
15. Birthright gone wrong:
His twin, Jacob, was a
shady brother
16. Pope, who millions loved
to watch religiously
17. Multimillion-dollar man:
Proof that the Super
Soaker was the brainchild
of African-American
inventor Lonnie Johnson
22. This is war: After those
wonderful holiday spreads,
many find themselves
fighting the battle of the
_____
25. Once a Magic Johnson
rival and now one of his
besties, you might call what
they have “courtship”
26. Nickname of actress
and producer Alani Nicole,
who married NBA player
Carmelo Anthony in 2010
in a televised ceremony
that aired on VH1
27. Tropical beach essentials that are already there
waiting for you to enjoy:
sand and _ _ _
Visit ESSENCE.com/crossword
for solutions
DESIREE NAVARRO/G E T T Y IMAG ES
1. What John Legend uses
to create art by hand
3. Thank you, said the
animals: A person with
noncarnivorous, nondairy
dining habits, like Venus
Williams and Mike Tyson
5. Your pet name for your
man, perhaps (or a startling
word heard at Halloween)
6. Fashion trend that has
some women questioning
their guy’s style IQ (and even
their own): _ _ _ _ and sandals
8. Size matters: Like the
clothes in the closet of
someone five feet tall
9. Broadway boy: At age 12,
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s
Alfonso Ribeiro lit up the
stage as The _ _ _ Dance Kid
10. Your foundation and
reflection right in the palm of
your hand (or a modestly
priced car rental option)
11. Human-headed lion statue
that keeps an eye on the
pyramids in Giza (and an
Alpha male’s iconic symbol)
DOWN
WHERE TO BUY
THE FIRE NEXT TIME
Page 79: Ermenegildo Zegna Couture
top, $890, trousers, $1,095, and jacket, price
upon request, all at select Ermenegildo
Zegna boutiques. Crown of Light ring, price
upon request, crownoflight.com. Miansai
bracelet, $95, miansai.com. Cerruti 1881
shoes, $275, cerruti.com.
Page 80: Lanvin shirt, $795, lanvin.com.
Roberto Cavalli trousers, $650, roberto
cavalli.com. Miansai bracelet, $95, and single
bracelet, $85, both at miansai.com. Nike
sneakers, $150, nike.com.
Page 83: Tom Ford top, $890, tomford.com.
DSquared2 pants, $1,270, dsquared2.com.
Miansai bracelet, $105, miansai.com.
DAY TRIPPING
ON THE COVER
Photography by Michael Rowe. Stylist, Avon
Dorsey. Barber, Kenny Duncan. Groomer,
Jessica Ortiz using Ren Clean Skincare at
The Wall Group. Manicurist, Brittney Webster
for Ken Barboza Associates. Prop stylist,
Barbara Botting.
COVER
On Michael B. Jordan: Prada jacket, $1,790,
and pants, $780, prada.com. Miansai rope
bracelet, $95, miansai.com.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page 9: Coach 1941 shirt, $250, coach
.com. Coach 1941 mesh shirt, price upon
request, and trousers, $195, both similar
styles at coach.com. Miansai necklace,
$155, rope bracelet, $95, and leather
bracelet, $105, all at miansai.com. Nike
sneakers, $130, nike.com.
Page 12: Lulla Collection scarf, $24,
lullacollection.com. Anuja Tolia Jewelry
necklace, $80, anujatolia.com. Bobbi
Brown lipstick, $29, Sephora.
Page 84: (Far left) Adidas by Stella
McCartney swimsuit, $90, adidas.com.
Jennifer Fisher x Of White earrings, $275
each, and Jennifer Fisher bracelet, $395,
all at jenniferfisherjewelry.com. (Far right)
On DeAngelo: Psycho Bunny shirt, $125,
psychobunny.com. Versace swim shorts,
$475, versace.com. Earring, subject’s own.
On Milan: Rosa Chá top, $125, and bottom,
$105, both at rosacha.com. Jennifer Fisher
earrings, $400, and bracelet, $395,
jenniferfisherjewelry.com.
Page 85: On DeAngelo: Psycho Bunny shirt,
$125, psychobunny.com. Versace swim
shorts, $475, versace.com. Miansai
bracelet, $85, miansai.com. On Milan: Rosa
Chá top, $125, and bottom, $105, both at
rosacha.com. Jennifer Fisher earrings,
$400, bracelet, $395, and ring, $295, all at
jenniferfisherjewelry.com.
Page 86: (Counterclockwise from top left)
On Milan: Daniel Patrick hoodie, $160,
danielpatrick.us. Onia bikini bottom, $95,
onia.com. 21HM earrings, $26, 21hm
boutique.com. Hysteria by Happy
Socks socks, $24, happysocks.com. On
DeAngelo: Daniel Patrick sweatshirt, $275,
similar style at danielpatrick.us. Frescobol
Carioca swim shorts, $250, frescobol
carioca.com/us. Billionaire Boys Club cap,
$55, similar styles at bbcicecream.com.
Earring, subject’s own. (Middle left) On
DeAngelo: Lacoste L!ve sweatshirt, $130,
lacoste.com. Earrings, subject’s own.
(Bottom left) On DeAngelo: Lacoste
L!ve sweatshirt, $130, lacoste.com.
Vilebrequin swim shorts, $250, vile
brequin.com. Montblanc watch, price
upon request, montblanc.com. Earrings,
subject’s own. (Right) On Milan: Eres
swimsuit, $530, net-a-porter.com. Jennifer
Fisher earrings, $295, jenniferfisher
jewelry.com. On DeAngelo: Billionaire
Boys Club sweatshirt, $165, similar styles
at bbcicecream.com. Everest Isles swim
trunks, $265, matchesfashion.com.
Earring, subject’s own.
Page 87: On Milan: Oye Swimwear
swimsuit, $350, oyeswimwear.com.
Claire’s cap, $20, claires.com. On
DeAngelo: Daniel Patrick top, $175, similar
styles at danielpatrick.us. Vilebrequin swim
shorts, $250, vilebrequin.com.
Page 88: On Milan: Eres bikini top, $260,
net-a-porter.com. Love Culture pants, $25,
loveculture.com. Jennifer Fisher earrings,
$575, and ring, $295, both at jennifer
fisherjewelry.com. On DeAngelo: Everest
Isles shirt, $285, matchesfashion.com.
Adidas Originals shorts, $30, adidas.com.
Earring, subject’s own.
Page 89: (Top left) On Milan: Daniel Patrick
hoodie, $160, danielpatrick.us. Onia bikini
top, $95, and bikini bottom, $95, both at
onia.com. 21HM earrings, $26, 21hmboutique
.com. Jennifer Fisher bangle, $395, and ring,
$295, both at jenniferfisherjewelry.com.
(Middle right) On DeAngelo: Adidas
Originals shorts, $30, adidas.com. Earring,
subject’s own. On Milan: Eres bikini top,
$260, net-a-porter.com. Love Culture pants,
$25, loveculture.com. Jennifer Fisher
earrings, $575, bangle, $395, and ring, $295,
all at jenniferfisherjewelry.com. (Bottom) On
DeAngelo: Frescobol Carioca shirt, $230,
frescobolcarioca.com/us. Agolde shorts,
$168, revolve.com. Earrings, subject’s own.
On Milan: Agolde jacket, $228, revolve.com.
Onia bikini top, $80, and bikini bottom, $80,
both at onia.com. True Religion shorts, $139,
truereligion.com. Jennifer Fisher bangle,
$395, and ring, $295, both at jenniferfisher
jewelry.com. º
LIP SERVICE
113 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
84
B ENJO ARWAS
Page 31: Tadashi Shoji top, $228,
similar styles at tadashishoji.com. The
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.com. MAC lipsticks, $19 each, mac
cosmetics.com.
Page 32: Cynthia Rowley top, $325,
cynthiarowley.com. Flaca Jewelry
earrings, $125, flacajewelry.com. Pat
McGrath Labs kit, $60, patmcgrath.com.
Page 33: Ramy Brook dress, $595,
ramybrook.com. Flaca Jewelry earrings,
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lipstick, $13, thelipbar.com.
Page 34: LC Lauren Conrad dress, $50,
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lipstick, $29, bobbibrown.com. The Lip
Bar lipstick, $13, thelipbar.com.
ON HIS MIND
NOTES FROM
A NATIVE SON
CULTURE CURATOR EMIL WILBEKIN CONTINUES TO
BREAK BARRIERS FOR GAY BLACK MEN. HE RECOUNTS
HOW HE FOUND HIS TRUTH—AND SHARED HIS DARKEST
SECRET—WITH HIS BIGGEST FAN
I
114 ESSENCE .COM JUNE 2018
Wilbekin and his mom (inset); at the
launch of the Native Son initiative.
I found the courage to tell my parents...
on the phone: “I’m gay. I like men.”
My mother screamed and recited
scripture. My father replied, “I always had
a feeling.” We cried. We yelled. It was
horrible. “We are packing up everything
and sending it to you,” my mom said. As
an adopted child, I had abandonment
issues. This was the worst-case scenario.
My brother, Erik, who is a cisgender
(straight) man, became the glue of our
family. I had come out to him the year
before. He was questioning and accepting and had a request: “Don’t run away.
Be patient with Mom and Dad. Educate
them about your lifestyle.”
After some therapy, painful holidays
and a year of little communication, I had
the confidence to be my authentic self
with my parents. There were awkward
moments, but I was determined to live my
life with pride and dignity. My mother felt
that as a Black man I did not need another
strike against me. Would I lose my job?
Would I get beaten up? Would I die?
I came out in the middle of the AIDS
crisis as the world witnessed a generation
of men disappear. When I was appointed
editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine in 1998, I
was the first openly gay Black man to run
a major publication. When we won the
National Magazine Award in 2002, it was
historic. A New York Times reporter
Emil Wilbekin is a former editor-at-large
at ESSENCE.
INSE T, PERRY HAGOPIAN . WILB EKIN , COU RTESY OF NATIVE SON .
love the man I am becoming: a
combination of the great men I
admire. My father, Harvey Earl
Wilbekin, who was a gentleman of his
word with a fierce work ethic. Wylie
Ferguson, my high school art teacher,
who was worldly, modeled for GQ and
had studied with Picasso. Cultural icons
such as Gordon Parks, André Leon Talley
and James Baldwin, who were mavericks.
But it was my mother, Dr. Cleota P.
Wilbekin, who shaped my character. My
dad was like a best friend. My mom was
and is the love of my life.
When she died last year from
congestive heart failure at age 86 on
June 3—20 years to the date of my
father’s death—my world collapsed. For
two years I had watched her go from a
vibrant Capricorn to a shell of her former
self. Our roles reversed, as I had to care for
her like a child. This was the woman who
graduated from high school at 16 after
integrating the tennis team, received her
bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music,
married my father after meeting him on a
blind date, went to law school while
pregnant with my brother in the 1960’s,
adopted me six years later, earned her
Ph.D. and worked as a judge while
juggling a family. She also participated in
13 civic and social organizations, served
as our church’s minister of music, was a
master quilter with pieces in the
Smithsonian and acted as historian for the
National Bar Association. Boss.
I loved my mama, but the pictureperfect Instagram posts of warm
embraces didn’t show the work it took for
us to get there. In 1991 I was 22 and
“finding myself” in New York City with
mom hounding me about getting a
girlfriend. I had come out to myself, but
not to my parents. It’s that gray area
where many LGBTQI+ people decide
our sexual identity and place in the world.
interviewed me and asked if I was gay.
“Well, I am now if it’s in the newspaper.”
There was no turning back.
I became a poster boy for Black gay
men. At Vibe I made sure we included
stories about LGBTQI+ issues and HIV/
AIDS and advocated for awareness. I was
diagnosed as HIV-positive during this
time, a fact I would hide for 14 years. My
friends knew, but I didn’t tell Mom. I visited
my doctor frequently and take daily
medication—something I will do for the
rest of my life.
Three years ago I was in India meditating on my next chapter. While journaling
at a spot overlooking the Arabian Sea,
I heard a voice say: Black gay men. I
returned home ecstatic. I looked on my
bookshelf and saw Notes of a Native Son
by James Baldwin. It was the perfect
name for a movement to empower Black
gay men with Baldwin as an ideal icon.
At the Native Son launch in 2016, I
bared my soul and shared I was HIVpositive with the room of 50 Black gay
professionals, including Don Lemon,
DeRay Mckesson and George C. Wolfe. I
couldn’t lead without living truthfully to
my brothers. It was liberating. There was
one issue—I hadn’t told my mother.
I went home to Cincinnati shortly after
for the holidays to learn how to make my
mom and her mom’s famous pumpkin
bread. Recently released from the
hospital, she was too weak to bake, but
strong enough to supervise. It was a
tremendous time baking 200 loaves for
loved ones and talking over gospel music.
We learned The New York Times had
covered the launch. Mom was elated.
While making the last batch, I told her,
“I’m HIV-positive. I have been for 14 years. I
am undetectable, which means that I
cannot pass on the virus.” “What took you
so long to tell me?” she asked. “I was
ashamed,” I admitted through tears. After
a few moments, my mom told me how
proud she was of me. Then she loved on
me like never before, rubbing my arms
and holding my hands. “You look healthy
from the inside out,” she said with a smile. I
had shared my darkest secret with my
mother, and she still loved me, maybe more
than ever. I was free. I am a Native Son.
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© J&JCI 2017
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