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Category Archives: black men

                       

My wife, The Hot Little Number, has two smiles. One is a nice, warm smile appropriate for everyday use. Its a perfectly pleasant smile and I always enjoy seeing it. It pales in comparison however to smile #2.  That one is bigger, brighter and blazes with raw, megawatt sex appeal.  I like that smile.  Lately I feel like I don’t make it appear often enough, so anything that does is intriguing to me.

Now, I have to confess that intrigued was not my first reaction when I saw the new Old Spice “Look at Your Man” commercial the other night for the first time.  The Hot Little Number is looking at him, then looking at me, then looking at him, and by the time the commercial is over, she’s got the megawatt smile going and she’s cracking up.  I’m feeling a little perturbed. I ask the Hot Little Number, how the heck do they think they are gonna sell me Old Spice with that pitch?. She laughs and says “they’re betting that I’m the one buying the smell good.  I’m thinking , yeah, damn right, cuz I’m not feeling like shelling out my hard earned cash for some Old Spice after Mr. Pecs finishes comparing and contrasting my mild flabby flab with his rock hard abs.

Later on, I run into an online ad with the same guy at You Tube.  In this one, you get a choice of watching his spot again or finding out ways to romance your woman. I think to myself, okay, something I can use and click through for some of this assistance brother man is offering, which turns out to be kinda cool.  So I decide that the whole Old Spice “Look at Your Man” campaign is not quite so foul.

The other thing that struck me about this commercial is how times have changed.   I wonder  if the Old Spice marketing folks believed this ad would be effective to capture the buying attention of white women? Old Spice using a sexy black man to sell the product is just a weird contrast to the Old Spice commercials I think I remember from my youth.  Didn’t those all used to have like this handsome Nordic white guy with a corn cob pipe in his mouth in a seaman’s jacket with the smell of the sea about him? (or is that the Irish Spring commercials of old?).  Now, unless Old Spice is now competing with the likes of Drakar (Yes, I’m dating myself) and such for the black male fragrance top spot, I don’t recall Old Spice being marketed to brothers or their women, but without a doubt this ad is clearly designed to get the attention of a black woman. Its effective too, if the back and forth glances of the Hot Little Number are an accurate judge. So brothers, tell me, how does this ad strike you? How did your woman react? If you are a white female reader, tell me, does this ad make you think about adding some Old Spice to the shopping cart? Anybody had a new bottle of Old Spice show up in your bathroom recently?

UPDATE: My wife, the Hot Little Number, just bought me some Old Spice.

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We’re losing a generation of young black men. Trapped not only within geographic ghettos, but cultural and mental ghettos, with walls built out of dependency, ignorance and a poverty of vision. Young men with better than average intelligence, but with minds and imaginations left to wither on the vine in progressively failing public school systems.

Young men and boys growing to adulthood in female headed households, without fathers or even father figures. Drowning in a degenerate and spiritually bankrupt miasma of rap music, drifting through extended family networks tethered weakly to incomplete family units with no idea what an intact family even looks like except for Cosby reruns.

Now, these poorly educated, improperly socialized, fatherless boys are adrift in a faltering information age economy indifferent to their lack of skills, initiative or circumstance and its not working out.

Meanwhile they are coddled and indulged by mothers or grandmothers or girl friends and baby mommas who shelter them in basements, spare bedrooms or apartments into adulthood and beyond to a point where their instinct for dignified independence is dulled and senile.

I have such drifting young men in my family and you probably have one or two in yours. Whats to be done? Send them to war.

We should be encouraging, exhorting, cheering on these unemployed and underemployed boys and men to join the military in droves, droves I say. Employment, opportunity, training, benefits, values, honor, duty, country, God. Its all right there, everything they are not getting as they slowly molder on momma’s couch. They are drifting through a failing economy while the military’s offer of opportunity and advancement is ignored because momma is afraid her baby might get shot. So we let them drift and rot into stunted manhood, stumbling through our cities, urban zombies of disfigured and maimed potential leaving neglected children in their wake.

Wasn’t there a time when mommas told their young men “you got to get out of my house and stand on your own two feet”? When the barber at the shop would say “if you don’t know what to do with yourself, join the service”. Now we eschew such advice, and why? Because its not cool for black boys to go to war, to go serve anymore? Because somehow we think we’re selling out to send black boys to the military? Its crazy talk. There is no honor nor value in being undereducated and unemployed and incapable of supporting a family, but we indulge and tolerate that very outcome for multitudes of our young men despite the fact that military service is a readily available alternative.

The armed services have often been the leaders in providing opportunity, in demonstrating equality and a culture of merit. Its a place where a boy can learn how to be a man, where he can be tested in the fire and forged into something stronger. Its structure, its discipline, its hierarchy. Its a job, its honorable and instead of ginning up yet another midnight basketball program over at the church, maybe we ought to be ginning up the armed services urban recruit escort program, to walk our boys right from that high school graduation where they picked up that worthless diploma and into their billet in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marines.

In the service of the presidency

I’ve been pondering a variety of impressions and vibes being thrown off by this historic transition that is occurring.

I marveled and laughed out loud as I watched a clip of President-Elect Obama’s visit to the White House to speak with President Bush and saw the unmistakable swagger of a black man as Barack Obama walked down the hallway with the President. Brothers and sisters all over the country noted it too, from my mother in Ohio to the brothers at the barbershop down the street.

I thought about the inspiration that Obama is giving to black men in America. I believe its out there, a palpable, tangible upward effect on the psyche of brothers, the presence of a black president. I know that I’m aware of it. Its not a sudden thing, but a slowly growing feeling. Forget “I wanna be like Mike”. I wanna be like Obama. I’m catching thoughts running through my head like quicksilver…”Obama did it. Now you gotta do your thang”.

I wonder if something akin to it but in a weird reverse way, might be happening in the minds of white people. Is Obama’s triumph causing some whites to gradually begin to perceive black men in general in a different, more positive fashion? Will bosses and managers who didn’t perceive potential in the brother that worked for them take a second look with a new eye? Might their not occur a major shift for the better in perceptions of black men, fueled by the success of Obama, that lifts all boats as it were. Will his success become the standard for what society assumes black men are capable of? I wonder.

I’ve thought a time or two that I’m glad to have a president who has some “cool” factor. I’m glad to have a president (at least for now) who’s election was greeted with joy and thanksgiving and good will around the planet. I’m glad to have a president that makes the world think that America is still on the path of perfection in the pursuit of its ideals.

Lastly, I wondered about life in the White House for the next four years.

As the Obama’s prepare for their installation as the First Family of the United States, I wondered about the feelings of the White House residence staff. Many of them are African American, some who’s family’s have had a long association in the service of the presidency. After so many years, to serve an African American First Family in the White House must seem a thing to marvel at. With what feeling of pride and earnest, sober bonhomie will they greet their arrival?