Tag Archives: men

Why are our young black men hurting?

 

I have just come from an awesome basketball camp sponsored by YOUNGLIFE. We had a great time of supporting and cheering on some terrific young men while we were there. My organization ThatSuitsYOU and Dr. Alex Ellis Tiedtogreatness were guest presenters. We donated over 150 ties and suits to these young men, which was a trememdous sight to see. We also encouraged them during thier tournament all the way to the championship. I figured this would be the highlight of the week and my job was done, boy was I wrong.

 

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Each night Young Life conducted a initimate smaller group chat with the young men. I was not ready for this. After seeing the guys eat, play basketball, try on ties, etc for most of the day I assumed they were during fairly well in everyday life. I was mistaken.  Our young men are in pain, they are hurting. Secretly hiding pain everyday that no 14-21 should have to hide. They are facing issues like

  • Living without a father in the home.

CNN recently reported that 68% of black households have 1 parent. Coming from a 2 parent household and being a parent now in a household I know how challenging it is personally to raise children with both parents. So being a sinlgle parent can be even more so. I am in no way am down playing single moms but I know the benefits that a father brings to the relationship of a young man. These young men have developed a strong resentment and hate for their absent fathers. They said they felt unloved, and abandoned.  Without their fathers being there, they are being looked at now to HANDLE the hole that their dad has left. So teenagers are asked to play the role of teenager/father in the household.

  • Lack of love/appreciate

They expressed a lack of love because they believe in alot of cases their mother treats them harsh because of the disrespect she felt from their dad. Being that he is not present they recieve the brunt of her anger. That misguided anger towards them is also displayed in front of their siblings which adds to their frustration. Also, because it is a single parent home their mother may have to work longer hours to pay all the bills for them to survive, which means less time, less communication, less interaction with the one parent that they have. Again, not to point the finger at her as she is trying to do everything that she can, but they see it as another form of neglect.

  • No one to talk to

Just the 2 issues we addressed so far can be stressful and now they feel as though they have no one to discuss these issues with. Their father is either in prison, dead or wants nothing to do with them. Their mother is working extended hours and has so many other responsibilities. They feel they can’t discuss these things with their friends because it will make them look weak, soft or vulnerble. And NO black male can have either of those characteristics because that is a definite death wish in their community. So they basically suck it up and keep everything bottled in until something triggers an explosion.

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This explains the anger we see in alot of our youth. This explain the solitude, the rebellion and misunderstandings. All children want is to be heard, to be appreciated, to be loved and supported. I believe alot of times we don’t give our young men a solid chance. They face these issues addressed here and much more. I didn’t even mention gangs, drugs, racism, unfair education, stereotypes, etc.  We mix all these things together into a young man, shake it up, let it sit, give him a diploma or GED and say go be a success in life, make me proud!!!

In conclusion there is big money in the prison system. 74 BILLION dollars worth. Any smart and savvy businessman that is in a business that deals with that much money will do whatever it takes to keep that going and to increase it consistently. That is only smart business. Knowing this, we have to be proactive in our thinking to not to expect our help for this growing issue of mass incarceration to come from outside sources. We have to be creative and tenacious to build programs, nonprofits, businesses to address and curb this problem. Their very lives are at stake. To see these young men share and cry and share and console one another was life changing. While TSY provided suits and motivational information and TTG did the same, it was the relationship building that truly made an impact.

Fathers, our young men need us bad!!!

After reading this call your sons, hug them, listen to them, they NEED US!!!

Tie training video

 

See more videos and photos from this awesome event on our social media pages

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@thatsuitsyou

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IF THE SUIT FITS. .WEAR IT!!!

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Just think of all the big occassions in a typical mans life….he is wearing a suit right? Whether it’s a wedding, or court date, job interview or heck even their own funeral.  Suits are worn on these occasions because men want to feel special and important.  Not only do they feel special but women love to see men look their best and a suit definitely  helps that to happen. A well tailored or fitting suit, with a power tie, cuff links, crisp shirt and polished shoes,  whoooooowe….

When you see a man walking down the street dressed like this, you don’t know if he owns the block or just has an interview on the block.  What a powerful feeling, what a confidence builder, what a great experience.

Unfortunately many men all over are missing out on these experiences because they lack the knowledge of the importance of dressing professionally and /or they lack the finances to purchase them.

I see so many of our young men who don’t know how to tie a tie or have never worn a suit. Many of them because they lack a male figure in their lives to show them and train them. I thank God my father was around to show and teach my brother and I. When boys lack these positive male figures in their life it can hinder them in so many ways. No disrespect to women who have done great jobs when they had to but I believe there are things that a man can bring that is truly significant in a young mans development

So my brother and I want to help young men experience that feeling of wearing a suit, learning how to tie a tie, and then showing others the same. We formed a non-profit called WWW.THATSUITSYOU.ORG. We recieve donated suits and ties and provide them to men who complete job training programs throughtout the country.

Men, churches, businesses, men stores all over contact us to donate clothing to us to assist us in our vision. We want to help men all over to get back on their feet and support their families.

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@thatsuitsyou

 

 

How do you see me?

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I remember this like it was yesterday. My family went on one of those shopping trips to Reading, PA to take advantage of all the discounted outlets. It was 1985, and I had to be about 14 or 15 years old. I was feeling grown, so a few of my cousins and I went off to do our own shopping. I had about $200 that I earned working during the summer. Within an hour I had a little less than $25 left—I really made the most out of the money I had and I figured I was done shopping. However as we were leaving I noticed a sign by the exit stating “All items under $20”. There were a pair of Polo sneakers that fell in this under $20 category. So I stared at the sign and the sneakers and began to calculate how much money I had left. Should I spend my last dime on these sneakers? Were they damaged? Did I really want them? All of these thoughts were going through my mind, and that’s when I sensed someone staring at me. I turned and saw it was a white woman who I figured was a supervisor or employee in the store. She then proceeded to say out loud to security positioned across the room—“Make sure all these sneakers have security alarms on them!!!”

Now, as a 14 year old boy I didn’t really pay attention to her motives until I got back on the bus and thought about it. I was in the store thinking whether or not I should make a purchase but from her perspective she saw me and assumed I was trying to figure out how to steal the sneakers. I was not dressed inappropriately, I wasn’t loud or menacing, I wasn’t posing a threat to anyone. I was just a regular teenager shopping in an outlet store. However, to her I was a black teenager in a store and that made the world of difference on her skewed perspective of the situation.

This experience has stayed with me for my whole life. My question is—what caused this biased view of me? If I were white or of a different race would she have reacted the same way. As I became an adult, I found out that the situation from years prior was not an isolated one. Time and time again I would experience similar reactions from people in various settings—the culprits were mostly white but other races as well were just as guilty (including black people). I walk down the street and people grab their bags or switch their bags from one side to the other. I walk into stores and security is alerted. Actually when I worked at a department store as a teenager they instructed us to make an announcement to security if 2 or 3 black males came in together.

I thought about it and realized that people spend a great amount of time watching television and surfing the internet. Most people get their information from either one of those sources—whether it is the news, reality TV, social media or some website. People utilize these outlets to educate themselves on many different matters. The images from most of these outlets overwhelmingly depict black people (especially males) as criminals, thieves, drug dealers, unintelligent, and unsuccessful. Thus, this is the image most people have of black men. This is the image people see when black men go into stores. This is the image people see when black men go for interviews. This is the image people see when black men walk down the street. This is the image police have of black men. This is the image the store employee had of me when I was contemplating buying those sneakers.

 

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As I think about it, mostly all of the heroes in movies or TV I watched growing up were not people of color. Blacks were actually the villains, the bad guys, the enemy. No real super heroes, no black men saving the day, no black men being celebrated and praised. They were depicted as the total opposite. Some will say, “well we have a black president now, and things have changed recently”. That is true to a degree but the last 6-8 years cannot erase the previous years so quickly in our minds and our perceptions.

It can be stated that a lot of crimes are committed by blacks so these media outlets are just displaying the reality. However if the only interaction of black people you have comes from what you see on TV or discover on the internet, then your perception of blacks in general will be off. Image plays a tremendous role in life. If a black man goes for a job interview but the person interviewing him has a distorted perception of black men then his chances of getting that job are greatly diminished. If a black man starts a business and his potential clients have a distorted image of blacks then he will suffer because people won’t trust him to run an excellent business.

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10993463_788746271181023_6895259486174446207_oThat is why I am so happy for the work we are doing at That Suits You. We first and foremost try to change the image that black men have of themselves—this is of utmost importance. Once a person has a positive image of themselves they are more prepared to handle the adversities of life. We give presentations and work to encourage men young and old to help each other to achieve greatness in life.

We work with programs all over NYC who train men to get back to work or to start their own businesses. Once they have completed their training we provide the icing on the cake by donating suits, shirts and ties to them to assist them with their outer image. The suits are only a reflection of how they feel on the inside. We know that not everyone may not see a man differently because he’s in a suit, but we know that wearing a suits greatly helps men in increasing their confidence, strengthening their inner image, and getting their lives back on track.

We may not be able to change everyone’s perception of black people but we can definitely help men have a better perception of themselves.

 

THE EFFECT OF A SUIT ON A MAN

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When I was out of work and trying to get back into the workforce someone reached out to me and helped me tremendously. A mentor of mine who saw that I was beginning to make positive changes in my life took me to a suit store in Brooklyn and purchased me a brand new suit, shirt and a tie. I will never forget that moment, I practically cried from the emotions of another man buying me these items without wanting anything in return. That moment was etched in my heart until this day. It is that moment that I think about constantly when we give back to the men we serve today. It is that moment that got me started and keeps me going.

While cleaning out my closet of older suits I decided now was the time to make this dream of assisting men with professional attire a reality so I started That Suits You, a nonprofit organization that provides suits to men looking to get back into the workforce.

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The journey of starting the organization involved collecting suits from family and friends. I was amazed at the results I was received. My wife and brother joined the team and we began holding suit drives and reaching out to churches, businesses and individuals all over. I have found that people don’t mind giving these items if they know it will be helping people. The idea of men who have completed training and are ready to work but do not have anything to wear to their interview is heart wrenching and very sad to see. However when we see their face when we present them with a suit, tie, shirt and occasionally shoes, all at no cost to them, it is priceless. That same emotion I felt when I received my suit is what we strive to do to these men. When I received that first suit I felt empowered, I felt important, and I felt like I could take on the world. We want the men we assist to feel the same way and we have seen it time and time again.

There is something about a man in a suit. There is something empowering about it. Women love to see them, and men love to wear them. A man in a suit, says he is working, he is making things happen, he is successful. That may not be the reality but it gives that perception. When people see young men saggin their pants, that statement speaks volumes to the world. That look says they are not working, they are not being positive and they are not being successful. Although that may not be true, that is the image it portrays. A lot of times men dress that way because they haven’t been taught better or they don’t have the means to obtain better. We want to be a part of changing the culture, look, dress and perception of men all over. We want to be a part of teaching men to dress better. We want them to have that look of a well dressed man. Once I had my first suit, I wanted to wear them more and more. I believe once we get a man in his first suit, he will have that same feeling.

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We recently did a job conference workshop with NYC College of Technology, where we donated ties to some of the young men who came. We also taught men how to tie a tie and did mock interviews with the young adults. However to me, the most powerful part of the day was the time we spent speaking and sharing to everyone there. Having the opportunity to pour my heart into these young people was priceless. I shared with them about starting a business and seeing a dream become a reality. I also expressed the importance of dressing appropriately and being professional in everything you do. That Suits You places us in position to give back to teens and young adults and hopefully steer them in a positive direction to being a success story.

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