Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fashion Conscious

It might take a while but I’m going somewhere with this folks, hang on…

Sometimes when I speak with friends who have careers that are socially more "aware" than mine, I get a little confused about my passion for all (more like most) things style and media related. Example? My boy KZ teaches math to high school kids in his native Newark, NJ and mentors teenage gang members after work. He does this despite knowing that he could easily earn more dough with his undergrad engineering and graduate degrees in psychology. Knowing this has, on occasion, made me pause about my own aspirations as an editor. Another example is the time I had what I thought was a particularly rough week at work prior to going on a road-trip with some girlfriends. Right before I started to rattle off how frustrated I was about this, that and the third at my own gig, I asked my girl MoMo - who happens to be a pediatrician - how work was going for her. At the time, she was finishing up her last year of residency and had been assigned to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. She proceeded to tell me that her unit lost three babies that week. She ended her story by explaining that the hardest part hadn’t even been the actual deaths (although that was obviously heartbreaking) but having to tell the parents that their child didn’t make it. Needless to say, I received a healthy dose of perspective and everything I was feeling about my magazine job felt really, really insignificant.

But sometimes, I am reminded that style goes much deeper than most of us give it credit for and even I am surprised at how powerful it can be. This happened to me twice recently. A couple weeks back I wore a Barack Obama tee shirt (with a pencil skirt and heels of course) to work. By lunch, I lost count of how many times someone commented on the shirt. Young and old, male and female - the shirt garnered quite a bit of attention. Now while I admit that I am not *exactly sure who I’m voting for at this point (I’m not educated enough about any of the candidates yet) I am so excited that Obama is even in the race. Every time I think about Bloody Sunday (Goggle it), especially because I have so much family in Selma, AL, my pride for Obama running just increases. I’m reminded of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. My $20 tee shirt sparked up many thought-provoking conversations - ranging from universal healthcare to the war in Iraq. Yep, sure did.

The second epiphany was just last Thursday, September 20th. I, along with countless others, wore black in support of Mychal Bell and the other Jena Six members. Now, in NYC, wearing all black is as common as yellow taxicabs but on Thursday it meant so, so much more. It felt good to see folks on the subway, on the block and even in the boardroom taking a stand against injustice in their own way. My girl CM couldn’t pull an all black ensemble together so she tied a black bandana around one of her wrists. Whenever she explained what her homemade cuff was about, as she was forced to do throughout the day, she informed someone else about the case.

So, God didn’t see it fit for me to be a teacher or a doctor. I do what I do for a living because (most of the time) I truly love it. I didn’t design that Obama tee shirt nor did I put out the mandate for folks to wear black on Thursday. Still, I have found and will continue to find ways to give back what I can, when I can, to those who I can because it’s my style. And style goes way beyond clothes or profession. I guess we sometimes have to be reminded of what we already know.

*Though I’m not exactly sure who is getting my vote, I’m definitely leaning towards Obama. I’ve heard him speak live twice, most recently last month at the NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists) conference in Vegas. He was informative, charismatic and didn’t at all appear to be a talking head like so many politicians. For those who are fearful that he lacks enough experience for the president slot; he posed the question, ‘Where has experience gotten us the last seven years?’



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