Catching Up With Canade

We recently sat down with contemporary singing sensation Canade. We talked about his goals for his latest musical offering, his background and the inspiration for his art. Canade is passionate and a little quirky, which only adds to his charm and authenticity. It's easy to see why live audiences love his relatable style and amazing voice.

The beginning

From the tender age of 7 years old, as an only child, Canade watched his grandmother sing in the choir and listened to his mother cover Anita Baker songs. For the past ten years performed at open mics, showcases, and talent revues both in the greater Atlanta area and NYC. Canade covers deep cuts and obscure nostalgic gems in his sets that most artists would never even think of. With his complex lyrical content and interesting arrangements, he gets back to what R&B/Soul music is at its core, honest and raw. Canade’s brand is a complete package of complexity and sincerity. His sound, a compilation of a wide range of influences, differs from today’s music - not manufactured or copied.

Visuals from Canade's Never Come Down Video

 Do you recall when you had your first “lightbulb” moment, and you knew that you wanted to sing professionally?  

I had two.  When I was 5, I had a dream about being on stage with a mic and I saw lights and shadows in the audience.  Another sign was the fact that my entire family sings, so the music kept calling to me.  Music is a generational thing for me. Years later, in 2011, I went back to it and it has created additional joy in my life.

What was the first thing you did to move towards your dream career?

I went to the studio and wrote and recorded a few songs. Shortly after, I found a vocal coach.

 What has been your greatest musical success to date?

Where I am right now. There have been lots of changes in the past year, the video and the sound. I decided to not suppress my talents anymore. I am glad to have musical freedom.  I have an EP coming out on Friday, May 1, 2020.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have stuck with my career from high school. I would have believed in myself more.

What does your music say about who you are as a person?

It says that I am eccentric and willing to take a risk, to do things people are afraid to do. It shows my range as a human being. It’s mysterious and revealing at the same time. It’s authentic.

What do you hope your fans get from your music?

That it’s ok to be free. To be free to experiment with new ideas. I used to be controlling and wanted things to go according to my plans. I learned that losing something is not always negative. This process has revealed my biggest support system.

If you had to describe your style to someone unfamiliar with you, or your style, or your music, how would you describe it?

Lenny Kravitz and Prince in both style and music.

When I watched the music video for “Never Come Down”, I got a powerful sense of happiness and self-empowerment.  Are there other messages in the song or the visual you want your fans to get?

The song means falling in love with yourself after all the struggles to get to your moment, and when it comes, be present and enjoy it.

What do you see next for yourself, a new album, touring, projects in the works?

I want to keep it a surprise. I will give you a little advanced info. I will release my first EP May 22nd which is available for pre-order May 1st.

Canade released his single Never Come Down this month, and the visual is astonishing! Check it out below.


The workplace

Do You Understand Me Now?

She sat behind me typing. She giggled, emitting the low sounds of superiority. Whoever this email is for she is giving them the business! After a couple minutes of listening to the satisfaction coming from my boss’ cubicle, I chose to continue with my work rather than speculate who and what the email was all about.

I connected my earphones to the Bluetooth on my phone, pulled up the latest episode of my favorite podcast, and went on with my day. Twenty to thirty minutes later I noticed I received a couple of emails. I thought nothing of it. I continued reviewing the required change transactions due before lunch and took a few moments to review my inbox before I headed out.

Email from Petty Patti

The verbal assault began with, “I think it’s time you work on your communication skills”. She continued with, “Several of your coworkers informed me that while you do a great job and they have no complaints about your performance, there are issues with clear communication when they ask questions and the responses you provide,”. She covered every word in this email with cotton-candy sarcasm and arrogance.

R and P February Issue
Check out the latest!

Did I mention she sits in the cubicle behind me? Yea, that’s right 4 feet away. Wouldn’t this be more productive as a conversation rather than an email? What kind of non-combative answer can you give to a shitty email like this one? The flippant way she delivered her feedback indicated my response would not be well received, she already decided my point of view was irrelevant. This bullshit is standard procedure with Patti.

She is the person who has the answers to all life’s mysteries in her tiny alabaster hands and will share them with you for a price. The price, however, is the complete surrender of your previous experience in exchange for her knowledge. Her way is the only way.

To my credit, I did not respond to her email right away. Patti had tunnel vision, but this was the first time I was a victim. For now, I would like to keep my piece of shit job. This meant I couldn’t cuss her out like my spirit commanded but had to find a strategic way to address what I felt the real problem was.


Of course, it's just me

I work in a homogeneous environment. In a department of 125, I am one of four Black men. I mention this because it’s at the core of this issue. Much like the diversity, processes and defined modes of communication are narrow within my department and company. There is little to no deviation in “the way someone should do things”. This has nothing to do with quality standards. It specifically relates the “communication” issue to personal style.

You may be feeling like “here we go with another of those speeches rife with righteous indignation regarding racism or discrimination in the workplace”. My response to that is, you’re damn right. If you believe these “speeches/ conversations” are too abundant in today’s culture this is likely where you should exit. Bye.

This is not my first time being ensnared in the codified feedback loop. Hell, it’s not even the second time. It is, however, the first time at this company, and with an obvious delivery. Much to Patti’s dismay, I could not give her the attention or the response she hoped for. She milled up and down our aisle all day, smiling and passing to give me the opportunity to stop her about the garbage she emailed me. I smiled and continued to work as if I hadn’t seen it. Just before I logged off for the day I sent Patti a calendar invite. I wanted to discuss and resolve this face to face as it should from the beginning.

This time, I took the advice of the experts. I wanted an entire twenty-four hours to figure out how to cuss her the fuck out in professional terms while keeping my job. Overnight I considered why the accusation insulted me. How was it possible to have two advanced degrees in communication yet still retain “communication issues”?

I wondered who told her that there was an issue, or was this confidential someone her duplicitous way of expressing her issues with me without revealing herself? I thought of just about every excuse to avoid making it about race, but there was no other explanation.

Patti and I communicated more than anyone else and there were no other instances of miscommunication between myself and other coworkers. Many White people assume that all people of color assume any type of feedback is racial bias. I like to make sure to check my bias before going there. Alas, there was no other reason.

Mentor who?

The next morning, as scheduled, I met with Patti to understand my “communication issues”. I gave her the floor and the opportunity to tell me what this was all about. She contemplated it overnight as well and came armed with an arsenal of vague reasons and remnants of veiled examples. Things like “I often come off aggressive when I explain ideas and my formal tone in written communication exhibited an attitude of inflexibility”.

Petty Patti whipped out an example of two emails written by Perfect Peter. Peter was after all her golden boy and an exemplary employee. He was easy to work with and never kept up a fuss. She often overlooked Peters ineptitude and his relaxed approach to completing tasks timely. He smiled all the time, and that is an important trait. Who knew appearing friendly covered a multitude of missing skills? “Perhaps, if you are willing, Peter can mentor you to bridge the gap on some communications skills you are missing.

At last, it was my turn to communicate with Patti. Patti did not consider having a variety of personalities and communication styles makes a team strong. I wondered if she believed my skills are weak because I use strategic language to communicate my objectives.

I asked her if she ever proofed any of the emails she received from Peter since I had yet to receive any communication from him that did not contain at least three typographical errors. I asked Patti if she will accept that perhaps I was not the one with the problem and that if possible to meet with those teammates who had issues with my “style” so we could work towards a better understanding.

Patti determined that this was another example of being confrontational and I should consider some mentoring. Patti and I reached a permanent impasse. She failed to realized I love myself and feel compelled to stand against poor treatment. I have no desire to be like or mentored by her protégé Peter.

Different does not equal inferior

Traits perceived as confrontational in Black men are authoritative or confident in White men. Direct communication is not a positive attribute in conjunction with my color. My intellect is not an asset unless accompanied by excessive smiling or subserviently communicated. The reality is it’s just too fucking bad.

Poor Patti, I am not sure what she will do with me. I have no intention of reducing myself to make her more comfortable. There will be no fake smiles or bending and scraping. Oh no, Patti may need to measure up. She should now manage and think strategically to make sure that my performance does not impact her. Potentially, she may even need to go onto the intranet to find the appropriate HR terminology so she can write me up! What will she do?

It doesn’t matter. Petty Patti, who has a management title because she remained employed with the company for the last eighteen years, will never diminish my self-love. All I’m thinking of now is what’s for lunch.

Always be willing to fight for yourself, and defy what they expect.


The Myth of Camaraderie

The Myth of Camaraderie

I obsessively checked my phone. Where is the damn reply I’m waiting on? I don't want to send multiple emails, but I will. Was I rude? Maybe I don't have a large enough audience. I faced the situation and sent another email, despite my better judgment. This time I made sure that I was nice and direct and clearly outlined my objectives.

The pitch

Me: “Men’s brand X” I’ve followed your social media accounts for some time. I also see that we could both potentially benefit from cross-promotion. Maybe we could collaborate on a project that will be mutually beneficial. I have some ideas of how this could work if you would like to get together to chat, or exchange emails please let me know. Look forward to hearing from you.

Them: I saw your first email. I am doing fine on my own. Please don’t contact me again.

Isn’t that the shittiest response! Sadly, it’s not the first time I received a similar response. I was not shocked. I was, however, surprised by departure from the account branding.

This is the reality for M.O.C.’s in the online creative community. Do African-American men struggle to work collaboratively? Do they believe they have to ride solo to be great? I attempt to collaborate with people/brands that appeal to my audience who are mostly African-American. I have primarily attempted to work with M.O.C. I already communicated with and who represent a diverse age range.

Is this how it has to be?

I  find an utter lack of community, connectivity, and an overall lack of interest in communal growth. Communal growth as it pertains to cross-promotion and sharing creations across audiences. In general, there is nothing more than a bunch of bullshit and smoke blowing, both of which we could all do without.

One account proclaimed their “commitment to partnership”, and “dedication to collaboration and uplift”. I also remember the behavior they exhibited when they wanted me to follow and support their efforts. I understand that’s the game but does it have to be? What does that say to the people who follow you legitimately? None of this is required participation. It does, however, give each creator the opportunity to uplift a fellow creator and perhaps aid their personal journey. We all know there is power in numbers.

I began my journey as an online creator to share my passion for writing, personal development, style, and music. I don’t just want to share; I need to share. I want to fill the chasm where we miss leadership and scholarship. I am intent on spreading positive energy and promoting things I and other young men like myself are potentially missing.


On the other hand

I do not believe I am the only one who wants this, but my perspective is gripping and unique. I want to create spaces that celebrate men of color and raise the bar for intellectual discourse. Don’t get me wrong, we all indulge in less serious events or celebrity gossip. We throw in our two cents on a twitter dragging here or there. But that cannot be the total of our online existence, so I refuse to accept that finality.

I have observed a range of three responses from my outreach.

  1.  Collaboration emails go unanswered.
  2. Shitty responses.
  3. Disinterest disguised as time constraint or lack of follow-through.

Collaboration allows creatives to tap into larger audiences thereby increasing their success rate. This simple fact often goes unnoticed. Cooperative help should be transparent and clearly communicate that each individual offers their uniqueness It’s not a competition.

Could I be wrong? Do I have skewed expectations? Maybe what I have experienced is based on who I am as a creator, or maybe my audience is too small…unhuh that’s it. Some creators could have potentially reached their collaboration capacity or don’t they like what I do? I am ok with all of those possibilities. The problem is the lack of viability of those options.


Of course, I have not talked to every black man. That would be impossible and impractical. Over the past year I have attempted to collaborate with more than fifty different creators and of that fifty tries, 4 have been successful. It is probable some of that has to do with me, but I have also talked with others about their experiences and there is little shift in the narrative.

I have no naïve expectations of camaraderie simply because I share a gender and ethnic background with someone. I take the time to follow and support these people on top of ensuring the situation is mutually beneficial. They have all at one point discussed how they “want to give back”, “mentor”, and “create a collective of like-minded individuals” but when the offer exists the fear of diminished value spooks them.

I address the topic collaborative communities for A.A creators from my perspective as one. Basically, I am saying a lot of men are out there hustling as digital creators, but many of them are full of shit. There is probably some club or niche group somewhere pitching several fits and replying I have shared a bunch of bitter bullshit.

Ironically, I’m not bitter. I really want to draw attention to the issue and help move toward building something positive. “You can’t heal what you won’t talk about”.


Why I Didn't Just Buy a New Desk

I really do need a new desk. It is hard enough to plant my butt in the seat and get started, now I need stuff. My desk is too low, my monitors aren't big enough, and the padding in my office chair is shot to hell.  Every time I work on my to-do list this is all I can think of and not my goals. It 's amazing I ever get anything done at all, but I never give up the fight.

 Surely, everyone wants to be comfortable when they try to channel their creativity. We need everything to be there! O.K maybe not everything but most things right? Do you think of everything that's wrong when you start a project? Lately, I often ask myself why I can't focus on the task and not the tools, or is there is something else going on with me that I have yet to identify.


Think about where you are “right now”. Decide if your “right now” is on the path toward the future you see for yourself.

Maybe it's not just the project

Say you want to do something simple like start a new exercise plan. Maybe you begin by getting on the internet to look for a great piece of fitness equipment, some new exercise clothes, and maybe even an affordable gym membership convenient to your schedule. All those things are great, and in the end, you may need some of them. In the beginning, however, all you need is to get started. You have shoes already, you can walk outside, your neighborhood park can be your gym until you build a habit you can stick with. The same thing is true with your projects and anything else you want to accomplish.

There are all sorts of studies that talk about learning styles and things you can do to motivate yourself to stay on task. There are even findings that support procrastination as a way channeling your creativity. The truth is it was never really about the desk or the tools. The issue is feeling unsure about my ability to create and execute my goals. It's nervousness about how my work will be received and no doing anything means delaying failure, in my head at least.

Reality Check

For me, procrastination does force me to get things done when I have no other choice, but I am often dissatisfied with the result. I congratulate myself for getting it done in the little time that I allotted myself, while also thinking I could have done better if I had more time. That's part of the damn problem. I did have more time. I waited until the last moment because I told myself over and over that I would only need thirty minutes to type up my article.

It's true that I can complete a 1200 word article in thirty minutes. It will be mostly coherent, make some good points, and contain at least one relatively astute observation. Will it be great? No. It may not even be something I am proud of and that is the source of my fuel to do better!

It’s best that you realize that you can begin accomplishing your goals with what you have today. It will also help you if you find which set of circumstances create the most successful outcome for you because we are all different. The most important thing you can do is understand what you are doing today may not be working for you, or you probably would not be reading this article.

[bctt tweet="Change begins where you are not where you want to be and not with the things you think you may need. Unlock the shackles of “if I just” and get started with “ today I can”." username="Rexdmundo"]

You already have everything you need to accomplish the next step in your journey. Just get off your ass and knock it out!


Our Kids Aren't Ready to Have the College Conversation

"So, you going to college or..."? If you are anything like me and have kids nearly ready for life beyond high school that is where you are right now. You have had the college chat more than once and reached your limit for blank stares and half-answers.  The war between your pocket and your hopes for your kids are twisting your thoughts and your nerves.

What if your kids are feeling the same way you are? Maybe they want to give you a solid answer and they are just unable to figure it all out.

The dreaded conversation

Sitting at the kitchen table with my kids I decided to ask them the dreaded question one more time.  When the last words escape my lips, I immediately want to retrieve them. They both threw their heads back and exhaled deeply as if I was getting on their nerves. Neither of them realized how close they were to a throat chop, but we can save my karate fantasies for later.

They attempted to come up with an answer that would appease my curiosity, but would also resemble the truth. Epic failure on both counts. Their verbal constipation ended abruptly with, "Well, I think I want to do something with the law" and "I think I want to be a nurse?"- combined with a synchronized shrug and a slacked jaw supported by a palm and an elbow on my kitchen table.

My daughters sat staring back at me while their eyes revealed small contractions in their brains, but little else.  The upward lilt in their intonation let me know that they were not quite sure about the response but it was the best they could do. I simply said, "OK women". It was then I realized there was only one answer to this obvious mystery.

If they had clarity they would say...

Dear Dad,

We keep making up answers to the college questions because we know that you think there is synaptic activity between our ears. We are smart but we don't have any life experience. Also, we never want to have an entry-level position because those take too long. We want to have lots of money, be fancy, and exert the least amount of effort possible. We would also like to have a job that is at least as glamorous as an episode of Law and Order, Grey's Anatomy, or The Blacklist" (We don't have to get dirty for that right?).  This job should also comes with a title that will impress grandma's friends at church so that she doesn't keep saying how spoiled we are.


A2 Nash

Despite my moment of improvisation, you get the point.

Why ask our kids questions we know they can't answer?

Remember when you were 17? It has been awhile, but attempt to think back to who you were at that age. There are three very good reasons new graduates have no idea what they want to do with themselves after high school.

  1. They have no real world experience with which to decide what they are both good at and enjoy or will pay them at a rate to sustain their imaginary lifestyles.
  2. The only exploration they do in high school is on the successful completion of state-mandated tests and new features added to social media platforms. Basically, they have become really great at memorizing things and corresponding electronically about nothing.
  3. The people they are today, are not the people they will be in 4-8 years, so their hopes, dreams, and desires will shift before they ever complete the first degree program

Should they commit to earning a degree?

I asked a question on Facebook to see if any of my friends think about this issue and to see if we shared similar sentiments.

Many of the responses were exactly what I thought they would be, but a couple surprised me. Not all parents are on the " you gotta go to college bandwagon" like earlier generations. Not all recent future/ recent grads see themselves traveling the traditional path to success.

Why? Most people are just sick of piling on debt for a degree that has no guarantee for future success. I don't have a stack of cash sitting around waiting for my kids to leisurely figure themselves out, while I am able to help them, the "finding myself routine" just isn't in the cards. I do, however,  know where they could get a good sturdy pair of stilettos. Just kidding.

Coaching your kids into adulthood

Parents want the best for their kids, but they also want them to be able to get out and stay out. For that to happen you must have a chat about planning with them. College is not the only option and they will need the flexibility to try on a few options before they find a good fit.

College, like anything else, is what you make of it. If you know for a fact that your kid is not a self-starter, ready to milk college for all its worth, its beneficial to talk with them about alternatives.  Let them know that you are invested in their success as an individual whatever that will look like.

A few ideas to start your chat

  • Remind them to compete with no one and everyone. Meaning, always do your best, but never compare your journey to anyone else's.
  • Success lies at the intersection of happiness and financial stability.
  • Degree's are tools, not guarantees.
  • Just because a path is traditional, doesn't mean it's for everyone. Never be afraid to freestyle as long as you can commit to making your choices work for you.

Don't forget to share your thoughts with me. You may have some ideas I didn't.


Reality TV Finally Got Real

Heavily scripted shows are more sensationalized life situations than they are representations of what most folks would consider normal. We know the situations are orchestrated but the reactions are real. Thus, we get manufactured reality. The foundation of each episode rests on actual events happening to real people, but sometimes the outlandish behavior causes us to forget they are not fictional characters. Not only that, but they often seem forget they are real people as well. I sat dumbfounded as Simone revealed her truth in front of the cast and everyone watching, I couldn’t help but think about the unspoken narrative.

The second installment of "Married to Medicine" reunion special aired. Did you see it? The episode was shocking, to say the least. Normally, these kind of shows are my guilty pleasure and I watch them as a way to escape or remind myself that other folks have worse shit going on than me. However, this episode was a little more real than "reality T.V." normally is. I have no words that can replicate the intensity of Simone's emotions.

Did you see what I saw

The authenticity in her eyes and the anguish in her voice leveled me. Her refusal to accept less than she deserved as a wife broke any character-driven fantasy to the contrary of her current reality. All the cast members were in tears as she explained why an unbreakable relationship was, in fact, susceptible to same maladies that millions of others experience. We witnessed the demise of a marriage in its final stages. I believed this couple had most of the necessary elements to go the distance until I watched the episode where Simone repeatedly accused Cecil of being emotionally closed off.

Before we go any further, check out part two of the reunion.

I sat watching as Simone revealed her truth in front of the cast and everyone watching, I couldn't help but think about the unspoken narrative.

Broken boys are marrying broken girls and trying everything imaginable to hold families together.

They say it's because...

In hindsight, isn’t that always the story. What we see on the outside of relationships is different from existing in it. I wonder how many of people at home recognized what she shared went well beyond what she articulated. I saw a real-world example of damaged personal development and how it is dividing modern marriages.

Husbands and wives have argued since the beginning of time, but there is something very different going on in contemporary marriages. People get married and bring all the broken places left unhealed from childhood into the lives of unsuspecting participants.

I think that we all know about absentee parents. I have heard it so often I am now tempted to roll my eyes when the expression is unleashed into a conversation. Yet, there is still validity to the correlation between a positive example and the lack thereof.

What we do know is...

Jobs, money, success, or celebrity are not enough to heal the holes created by absentee parents. Stories of fathers that didn't give their daughters the validation they need or their sons the requisite instruction of how to be a husband/ father are familiar narratives. Mothers who never showed their sons how women like to be treated, or their daughters how to receive/ give love in return have populated American society with children operating adult bodies. We are overrun with adultescents trying to fix traumas experienced during childhood.

How do we expect men and women to exist as complete individuals capable of sustaining life-long relationships? How do you complete a task without an adequate idea of what completion or success at that task looks like? With help, of course!

We need our young adults to heal and to solve the riddle prior to settling into long-term relationships and creating families. This means you should figure out your shit before you destroy someone else's life. It is not okay to knowingly allow someone else to become emotionally dependent on you when you are not able to depend on yourself. You knew you had daddy/ mommy issues years ago, right?

You can't heal what you won't talk about

It is absolutely necessary to create an environment where authentic communication in a relationship is normalized.

This will mean that traditional notions of stoicism need to be revised and in some ways eliminated. Vulnerability does not equal emasculation.

So often successful men and women believe their success is a substitute for wholeness. They believe they can buy their way out of the process, but it actually creates an opportunity for their internal damage to be revealed in a much larger way. When we have financial peace of mind, we have more time to see things that would ordinarily escape our attention. It allows us to focus on things that make us happy or fulfilled beyond economics.

Thankfully, we are beginning to turn the corner. As evidenced by some younger adults, more men/ women are available to their children in ways that matter. More mothers/ fathers are finding the balance between parenthood and take increasingly active roles in raising children in ways that they never have before. Considering all this, we still find ourselves in a situation where there is plenty to be done, but the situation is hopeful

Always, without fail, pay attention to what you allow your ears to hear and your eyes to see.


Do You Know Where You Stand, Because I Do?

Welcome to the "Do you know where you stand" series. A snappy little way to grab a nugget of info while we get to know each other better. I created this series as a reaction to the lack of direct communication almost everywhere. It's chance to promote honesty, infused with a little humor and maybe even a little sarcasm. We could all use a good laugh but that doesn't mean we can't learn a little something along the way.

This is the one and only time I will do an introduction to the series, and I wanted to leave a couple of instructions before we dive it.

The rules

  1. I am not necessarily talking about anyone specifically. If you recognize yourself in something I say, whose problem is that? We can all do a little better.
  2. Feel free to call bulls*hit on anything I have written. We don't have to agree to get along.
  3. Let's have some fun!

Diving right into Bruno Mars

I want to clear the air about the Bruno Mars foolery. The convo about Bruno and his "musical stylings" has been a hot topic for the last week! I mean, everyone has had something to say. If you are one of those folks who is gainfully employed or simply don't give a shit about it, here is a situation summary in one picture.

Can we take a collective deep breath? Cultural appropriation is a big deal. I don't want to dismiss the merit of an issue that continues to plague a culture that continues to overcome unnecessary adversities time and again.

However, half the people complaining about appropriation looked it up before they tweeted/ updated their status on Casebook so they could do the bare minimum, spell it right. The other half was so busy defending the talent of their colonizer cohort that they forgot a key ingredient, talent.

Is Bruno really all that talented? He has some good bop's and a couple of smooth vibes, but nothing that couldn't be duplicated with a good budget and an even better producer. I am almost positive he isn't writing most of his music so...

The key to the debate is the acceptance, promotion, and celebration of black culture as long as it is packaged in a non-black body. Nothing about that is new, but we can fix/change this by discontinuing support of things that don't serve us or further economic and social equality.

Example: Black Panther is a key instance of the economic power people have by supporting or not supporting a product.

If folks are gonna argue over change and equality the minimum they could do is educate themselves on the dynamics of the situation. Focus on what matters!

Stay smart


Experiencing TV Through Colored Lenses

This past weekend I watched Seven Seconds. It’s a mini-series from Netflix starring Regina King, Russell Hornsby, and Clare-Hope Ashitey. It’s a damn good piece of drama and if you have not seen it you should. It is heavy, deep and wrought with all kinds of emotions. Every episode drips with intensity, so you should probably make sure there is plenty of wine around as you watch. Believe me, it will take the edge off.


The show is newish, so I don't want to include any spoilers that may prevent anyone from watching it. After I finished the last episode, I sat watching the credits scroll by, something I normally never do, but this time was different. I thought, what’s different about this show that captured me so completely?

What shocked me

Honestly, everything shocked me. The situation, the acting, the characters, and most of all it was the feeling. What the hell was this all about? So many residual feelings returned to my mind. I sorted through the torrent of thoughts that surged in at once and realized that I was severely bothered by the feeling that much of what just happened on-screen could have just as easily have happened to me in life. That is if I lived in Jersey City and was still young enough to ride a bike for fun and not exercise. I realized that as a black male, I inherited an unwarranted cultural invisibility.

I’ll just zoom past the part where I talk about how much I love Regina King, and how I have since she was rocking a mushroom on “227”.

I see it this way

I have not accepted or succumbed to this notion as a personal value. Nonetheless, that does not negate or disavow the viability of the concept. It exists; however, in my life I choose to be an exception.

I use cultural invisibility as an expression to articulate a feeling that I suspect most men from my heritage have felt and rarely shared.


Racial invisibility requires the African-American male to be a faceless, inauthentic being devoid of personal character yet retaining assigned characteristics from historical and current cultural tropes. Keep in mind none of this has anything to do with the person themselves, but more to do with the state of cultural affairs, music, TV, films and any other medium that requires creators to draft versions of black men that remain recognizable to society at large.

I don’t intend to be heavy, but I want to explain my perception of racial invisibility specifically and how "Seven Seconds" amplified this concept in a way that had me shook.

This is what we are not

Black men are not just characters from hip-hop videos, sports endorsement commercials, or personifications of characters from “realistic” crime dramas. It’s really that simple, but I want to be very clear. My point is to bring attention to the way I, and those like me, are often denied recognition as people. How we are more often singled-out as a representative of an entire race, or as a caricature PEOPLE may not remotely identify with personally.

For example, I love hip-hop music. I mean, who doesn't right? There is this one guy in the office who I believe has a younger son. I mention his son's age because younger generations have less rigid notions of what people should be and what they should like in general. I can always tell when his son has come to visit for the weekend. Without fail, he will stop by my desk in the morning to try out his “new cool” on me. You know, things like the latest hip-hop song, or an expression he is now using without understanding the meaning or the implication.

You would think that after the last three years he would have learned, but alas he is persistent. Even when I know exactly what he is talking about, I feign ignorance just to deny him the privilege of landing an assumption correctly. Silly rabbit, I will never participate in your misguided shenanigans. He is operating under a set of generalized assumptions that all black men understand and take part in hip-hop culture. I do, but this is not anything he has ever asked or validated.

Moving forward

In Seven Seconds, one of the primary characters fell victim to the same trap to which many suffer. He was denied basic rights and respect because of generic perceptions of black men that equate to worthlessness and invisibility. These ideologies are too liberally applied to men of color. I do not believe that black men are the only group of men who operate contrary to generalizations or detrimental perceptions.

I do, however, believe that the pervasiveness of this issue is more malignant and harmful to black men in terms of economics and freedom than just a general sense of well-being.

“The persistently marginal social status of African-American men in society is a major concern to the black community. It is a matter of widespread belief that racism is a primary contributor to this predicament and to the marginality of the African American community in general”.

What does that really mean?

It means that racism is just not new. None of this is new-organized forms of society require that there be at least one marginalized group, right? It also means the African-American community is well aware of the conditions under which they operate. Recently, the theme of “healing” this problem has trended. I am all for it.

What I am not for is the assumption that the healing requires permission. Reality never required permission. The reality is African-American men are as varied and complex in character as men from any other ethnic heritage. The persistent mistake in conversations of healing is the assumption that recognition or agreement is required, neither are.

I don’t know anyone that needs confirmation of the rain falling outside for it to be true or that standing in it will result in being wet.

These ideas are simple

The invisibility of the African American male as an individual is just as simple and apparent. In fact, most things are THIS simple. Complexities over inequities and divisive rhetoric only become convoluted when one group lacks the wherewithal to accept their own bad behavior or seeks to deny the validity of the other group’s experience. This idea was expressed several times in the series, and I have expressed it several times in my own life. It was this that stirred my connection.

Russel Hornsby, who played the father in this series said:

“I think this is the first time on film that I’ve had an opportunity to feel three-dimensionally,” he said about his character, Isaiah. “This character is not stock. He’s not an archetype. He’s a father grieving, living, trying his best to love in spite of things.”

Every word of his character assessment is correct. It is just a damn shame that instances of these characters, especially characters representing black fathers, are so sparse. This specific character had some misinformed ideas about gender roles and parenting, but that is what solidifies the performance as whole and authentic.



Made or Paid to be Bad

The recent surge of films and network television shows featuring a strong female lead thrills audiences. Some of my friend’s attribute this to the increase in female screenwriters, directors, and producers. The rest believes there is an increased availability of scripts for female characters.

A survey from Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that women made up 29 percent of main characters in 2016’s top 100 movies, a 7 percent increase over 2015.

I think there is a variety of opportunities contributing to this change. Progression never really happens at the hands of one thing, but comes from different contributing factors that chip away at the normative expectations. It’s more like transitional conditioning that facilitates change.

Survey says

Audiences are beginning to reject the dominance of male protagonists, especially in the wake of sexual harassment revelations, and want to discuss the need for increased female visibility both in front and behind the camera. The conversations are everywhere and we see them often turn from “ look how great of an opportunity this for women” to “damn men suck, what the hell took so long”. I consider myself a forward thinker, and I have to say I agree. What did take so long? Specifically, what held up diversity and gender equality in entertainment.

Truthfully, women have waited a long while to have the same opportunities as men in nearly every industry, so I’m not surprised here. Knowing something is true doesn’t wipe away the yuck you feel when you hear slimy facts given life through verbal expression. It’s historically undeniable. There are other cross-sections of people who inhabit this same conundrum as women. To maintain focus here, I will leave that for another time.

I have thought about this for a while, and the results are in:

I'm thinking

Shout out to the ladies

To all the intelligent, driven, successful ladies reading this, I hear your voices. As much as possible, I understand the transition you are going through.  It is thrilling to see that your voice and more realistic representations of your life are now available on demand.

For decades, women exploited on T.V. and in films.  Actresses have been typecast and portrayed as one dimensional.  You are tired of the relegation to the kitchens, classrooms, and nurseries. Recently, your due has become more available, and positions as directors, producers, and writers you have deserved for so long can be inhabited.  I salute you, I honor you, and I say it’s about damn time.

Where is this going

Now that your season of success is in full swing, are you planning to exact your revenge on all men?  The rampant success of female-powered shows has fueled revenge writing.  The frequency of articles that annihilate men, often astutely, demolish the B.S routines that acted out on women have increased in great measure.  The neck-and-neck race of fuckboy articles surpassed only by articles that cover racism, or Donald Trump.  (I know those are much the same thing)

Some will say what's the problem.  If men are behaving badly, why shouldn't we call them out on their injurious behavior?  The problem is, you are using the same broad-stroking brush to paint the male character, that you were once the victim of.  I am not demonizing female authors/bloggers, but there is a female population of writers carelessly assassinating the character of "good dudes".

For example, I googled fuckboy, and here are the results.  Notice anything?

90 percent of the search results return an article that does exactly what I just described. Television and films, like Veep, Atlanta, Insecure, Magic Mike, How to be Single, or even Empire, feature one guy minimum,  that just can't seem to figure out how to behave appropriately in a relationship. Also, I recently read a listicle that provided some anecdotal character analysis of male characters on current T.V. shows.

This is not all men

I mention this here because all the characterizations represent a type of real person and should be represented in entertainment programs that reach for the same type of verisimilitude that audiences crave.

We all want authenticity, things that represent people we have encountered.  I am in line with the rest of the audience.  The issue is the translation from storytelling to the nearly insurmountable rhetoric that has become the common weekly feature on almost every female-led entertainment media outlet.

In all things, do your best to keep your mind and eyes open. There is only one way for information to get in.





See You Beyond Your Job

I stood there thinking I can't believe things turned out this way. I am that guy, you know the one who takes great pride in getting it right the first time, and always exceeding expectations. At least I always thought I was that guy.

The week even hell rejected

Ever had one of those weeks where it seems like nothing went right? Well, that was this me this week. It's annual review time at work and let's just say that my performance appraisal didn't go anything like I thought it would. I imagined going into my manager's office to receive a shiny new bonus and accolades to boast about in the break room. Instead, I left thinking WTF just happened?

I could go into details. Like maybe my car tire went flat, the washing machine stopped working, or the kids got bad grades at school, but why bother. The fact is, no one really cares about my sob story or the tiny violin I'm playing my sad song on. By this point, the old me would be knee-deep in snack cake papers and empty hot Cheetos bags so since my fingertips are not red and my breath does not smell like warm Star Crunch I consider that a win.

Learning during the storm

This week did have a bonus. This is the part you care about. I discovered I am more than my job. Not only that but that my self-worth is and should be wholly independent of my career. You care because that means it's true for you too.

Isn't that groundbreaking! Ok, fine it's not but it was news to me and I suspect it is news to some of you as well. I never realized how much my self-worth is tied to what I do for a living. It sucked to realize that many of the positive things I think and feel about who I am are directly connected to something that I have no control over, other people's opinions. Why the hell did I think my VP title made me who I am? I wasn't always one and I think I liked me before.

Have you felt this way before?  Do you wear a subtle smirk when you tell people your job title, or how long you have been in your profession? C'mon I know you do. I saw you talking a bit louder than normal on your mobile phone when you came into Starbucks, so we would all know just how important you were while you ordered your low-fat latte with skim-shenanigans. It's ok. Look good feel good, I get it.

The why helps the how

Do we blur the delineation between professional performance and personal value because we spend more time at work than we do with our friends and families? Is there any wonder that somewhere along the way we misplaced our ability to separate our personal pride from out professional pride? It's true, one side does drive the other, but one is representative of your being and the other only represents who you are in a particular capacity. "You may lose your job someday, but you’ll still be you"

At work, you are a resource to a company, in life, you are an autonomous entity. How you drive your corporeal being is where you should center your self-esteem and pride.

For men, this is especially true. We feel our value is intrinsically connected to what we offer in the workplace which translates to how effective we are at handling our fiscal responsibilities. When we do poorly at work its traumatic. It affects the way we feel about who we are.

Take back your power

Don’t mistake what you do for a living for what you offer as a human being. We sometimes get busy making an impression we forget to be what want others to think we are.  Status is inconstant, just like wealth. When you are old and rocking a pissy diaper, people will remember how you treated them, and not what you filled your résumé with.

[bctt tweet="“The biggest reward in life isn’t financial benefits. Those things are great but they don’t fill up your life, only living a life of substance will. Maya Angelou taught me an incredible lesson. Your legacy is every life you touch.” O. Winfrey" username="Rexdmundo"]

Today, I want you to know that you are more than your job too. Don't wait until you are sucking wind in a performance review to figure out that you are still an awesome person regardless of what the management team thinks about you.

They say each one teaches one, so this is my contribution.


The Best Street Style From New York Fashion Week: Day 2

Did you even go to New York Fashion Week if you didn’t wear a beret, tiny sunglasses, or both? Based on the street style yesterday, no. Statement accessories were the hero pieces of the day. The controversial chapeau kept popping up in green, in red, and in fur. As for the sunglasses, people took their cues from Rihanna and The Matrix. There were colored lenses, teeny-tiny angular pairs, and oversize owl-like glasses. Pro tip: Pair them with a fanny pack for extra clout.

Puffer coats were everywhere, but the best was a full-length one with Frida Kahlo printed on the back multiple times.