How Professionals of Color Say They Counter Bias at Work

From left, Ramon Ray, an entrepreneur; Emilia Sykes, a state representative in Ohio; and Dr. Ashley Denmark.CreditCreditRamon Ray, Office of State Representative Emilia Sykes

By Christine Hauser
December 12, 2018
The New York Times

An African-American man in a suit was handed car keys by someone who thought he was a parking attendant. A black lawyer was patted down by guards at a courthouse, even though his white colleagues entered without a search. An African-American politician was told she did not look like a legislator.


Such encounters are the plight of many people of color in the United States, highlighted in October when flight attendants questioned the credentials of a black doctor while she was trying to treat a passenger in distress.

When the physician, Fatima Cody Stanford, later explained that she always carries her medical license to help disarm skeptics in situations like the one she had experienced, other professionals said they, too, had developed strategies to brace themselves for people who will doubt them.

Those in professional fields historically dominated by white people, including law, medicine and politics, say that the pressure to be prepared for these moments can feel particularly acute. It affects how they dress, what they carry in their wallets and how they behave.

In interviews, about a dozen people described their efforts to ward off bias at work because they supposedly do not, as Dr. Stanford put it, “look the part.”

Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, 46, a New Jersey entrepreneur, always dresses in a suit or a sweater. But he has still been asked by strangers to park a car, or been handed luggage or a coat to hang up. The bias, Mr. Ray said, was an assumption that he was “the help.”

He is also aware of the racist assumption that black men are menacing. It has prompted him to modify his behavior in ways that include keeping his distance from white female strangers, especially in isolated places like parking lots.

Dr. Ashley Denmark

Black, Hispanic and Latino people make up a low proportion of medical school graduates in the United States. Several doctors described their experiences with implicit bias, or unconscious assumptions about race.

Dr. Ashley Denmark, 34, has overheard patients say they have not seen a doctor, even though she just examined them.

“I will go back, and round again, and say: ‘Hey, you didn’t remember seeing me? My notes are in the chart,’” Dr. Denmark said.

“It plays to a bigger problem that we have to normalize our presence in the field,” she added.

Dr. Mallory Whitley

Dr. Mallory Whitley, 33, emphasizes to patients that she is their doctor. “I have been handed a tray before and asked if I am there to take their order,” she said. “If a nurse walks in — say, a white male — that is their doctor all of a sudden.”

She is also aware of how she delivers her orders. “I tend to not speak a certain way at work,” she said, “to make sure in other people’s eyes I am less menacing or less aggressive.”

It isn’t just black professionals. Hispanic and Latino people, Asian-Americans and people of other races have also reported encounters with bias.

Dr. Gricelda Gomez, 31, who is Latina, said she was helping herself to a supply of scrubs recently when an unfamiliar white nurse challenged her, assuming she was not a doctor and snatching her badge away after she did not provide her name.

Dr. Gricelda Gomez

“The default is never ‘you are the physician,’” Dr. Gomez said.

Such assumptions that she is less qualified than other professionals are rarely overt, she added. “This is the tricky thing about bias and talking about it,” she said. “It is not macroscopic anymore. It is all underlying.”

After the encounter with the nurse, she stopped wearing the badge that identifies her as a doctor on her hip and started displaying it more prominently.

“I pin it right in the middle of the V-neck,” she said.

Dr. Gomez, who also recalled being accused by a colleague of playing the “minority card” to get into Harvard Medical School, said she worked twice as hard to be perceived as competent as her white colleagues.

“The default is ‘Oh, she is Latina — she squeezed by because she is a minority,’” she said.

Anthony Denmark

Anthony Denmark, 33, a lawyer in South Carolina, said he avoided wearing informal clothing on his firm’s casual Fridays.

Mr. Denmark, who is married to Dr. Denmark, has been patted down at courthouses where white colleagues walked in without a search, he said. In his car, he hangs work badges from the rearview mirror so he will always have identification within reach.

“At times I have had to show my license to my own clients before they believed that I was the attorney working on their case,” he said.

Kyle Strickland, an analyst at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, said, “I want to be able to say people should not have to wear a suit to fit in.”

“But at the end of the day,” he added, “you are still a person of color in America, because we have not necessarily confronted the issue of race head-on.”

Emilia Strong Sykes

In 2016, a black Ohio state legislator, Emilia Strong Sykes, 32, asked why she had been singled out for a search entering the Statehouse. “Well, you don’t look like a legislator,” she recalled the guard saying. After a pause, he said she looked “too young.”

Ms. Sykes braces for such encounters. She dresses conservatively, keeping her badge visible and unfailingly displaying her legislative pin. “I am very mindful of it,” she said. “You don’t want to be the black legislator causing trouble.”

She has also instructed her aide to greet visitors at her office entrance, so there is no question that the black woman they encounter sitting at the representative’s desk is, in fact, the legislator herself.

“There is something that triggers those thoughts that ‘she is not supposed to be there,’” Ms. Sykes said.

Rahmah Abdulaleem

Rahmah Abdulaleem, 43, a Muslim lawyer, said her evolving head scarf choices reflected her efforts to pre-empt bias. When she was starting her career in Georgia, she would wear a dark scarf, making the Islamic covering less jarring for clients or colleagues. As she became more established, she started to wear colors.

“It was for them to be comfortable,” she said. “Then I finally got to the point where: ‘This is not me. I am not happy.’”

But she still recalls clearly how a colleague told her, almost 20 years ago, that she needed to “tone it down so people will feel comfortable.”

“And that sticks with me,” Ms. Abdulaleem said. “I make sure that I am not the loud black woman. I want to be respected for what is coming out of my mouth, and not falling into a stereotype in their mind.”

Chicks Chat Career with… Alicya Sinclair


Alicya Sinclair. Award winning designer, founder and director of Sinclair London. A luxury fashion house designing bespoke wear for women. Their mission statement is; “We’re not here to change the world, we only dress the women who do.” Sinclair London are known for bringing Saville Row to women’s wardrobes.  We at Those London Chicks are pleased as punch that Alicya has taken the time out of running her business to speak with us.

We at Those London Chicks LOVE a success story like yours. We like to inspire by telling the story of women like you. Had you always known you wanted to get into this field or had you other ambitions as a child?

I’ve been quite lucky that since the age of nine I’ve always knew I wanted to be in fashion. It all started with a friend from school, we started designing clothes and our first company was called AK Clothing. For a short while I wanted to be a gymnast, but that’s didn’t last long.

What has been your journey…university, collage?

I never wanted to go to university. At the time I was looking, most fashion universities focused more on design rather than the making and production of actual garments. I wanted to leave school at 16 and go and do an apprenticeship but my parents wanted me to stay on school. So, I did my A-Levels and then after college I did a pre-bespoke tailoring course at Newham College. From there I completed my training on Savile Row at the Savile Row Academy at Maurice Sedwells. Some of the best years in my career. After graduating – still knowing I wanted to own my own business, I thought it was wise to go and work at a fashion house to gain the experience. I needed get to know the industry, build contacts etc. So, I became a studio assistant and a cutter for a couture company, which at the time was based on Beauchamp place in Knightsbridge.

Saville Row, not synonymous with women’s wear generally. How did that become a way forward for you?

chicks-chat-interview-alicya-sinclair-thoselondonchicksYour absolutely right! Savile Row has always been synonymous with men’s tailoring. In women’s wear there is more creativity with designing garments and I have always loved the aspect of bespoke and couture. At that time in 2013 there were very few female tailors on the row learning the craft, so it was daring for a female to launch a tailoring company, let alone become a tailor for a Savile Row house. So, me being the type of person I am, I said to my professor, “I could launch a women’s only tailoring house”. Which had never been done before. He thought I was bonkers but said it would be successful as it was something new and fresh!

“When I face fearful moments I do take some time to sit and think about it…”

Did you ever feel like giving up on your dream?

Oh many times! I would say especially when I came to a crossroads in my business and I was unsure of the next business move. It was quite challenging. I think when you try to do everything yourself and don’t share the journey with others it can be lonely when it comes to making sound business decisions. At that time, I knew it was time to start building a strong team. With individuals who had an extensive range of experience and who believed in my brand. My business mentor is a great calming influence. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience as he is a fashion investor himself. So he knows how the industry works. The ups and downs that the industry faces. So support systems like that really do keep you going when things become challenging.

In terms of your business you come across as fearless. Were you at all nervous starting Sinclair London, if so, how did you overcome the fear and do it anyway?

Haha! I would love to say I am fearless. I was 24 when I started the company and at that time I was very fearless. I wanted a business, I started it and didn’t look back. I think if I had started the company now 4/5 years on, I probably would be a little more couscous in the decisions I made. I think the trick is when you want to do something that can be life changing, is not to think about it too much and hold on to faith and leap! We are all humans and sometimes we can talk ourselves out of situations or career choices because we think about it too much. Then the fear factor kicks in.When I face fearful moments I do take some time to sit and think about it. I always only share with those who believe in what I do and ones that will give you sound advice as they can also be the ones who propel you forward into doing what you want!

chicks-chat-interview-alicya-sinclair-thoselondonchicksWho or what are your inspirations and why?

In terms of the “Who” my mother is a huge inspiration. She is a very strong woman and I have seen her mentor other business women who now have very successful careers. Fashion houses – got to love Ralph and Russo. I met Tamara when they were based in Mortlake before moving to Mayfair and she is so humble and open. I absolutely love the brand they both have now built into a 9 figure amount.

Do you consider yourself primarily as a creative or a business woman?

Ohhh interesting question. When I started I would definitely say creative as I was always designing and making. I think now, as I expand the business and my team grows I have heavier responsibilities than I would before which require a more forceful approach in business. I now can’t sit at my desk and design as much or sit at my machine and sew. It’s my job now to make sure I am always driving in new business, new customers, sales are increasing, the brand is heading in the right direction. Our marketing message is on point, make sure salaries are paid – there is a lot to juggle. So I would say now…. a business women. The transition has been a real journey and I feel like I have grown and developed as an individual and I am sure I will continue to do so.

Tell us about how you work. Do you have a S/S and A/W or is it a purely bespoke service?

When I started I focused on bespoke only. Making one off pieces for clients. Two years later I launched into ready to wear with financial help from a good friend of mine which was very kind of him. This allowed me to create a full collection which I got into 4 stores. But like all businesses you have to be thinking ahead which I never did at the beginning. So I went from S/S and A/W to simply “named” collections which I could launch as and when I felt like it. Not necessarily because the industry dictated it. The fashion calendar is changing so many designers are launching when it suits them and when they feel is the right time. So many brands now launch new pieces every two weeks to keep up with the demand of the consumer.


What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given that has struck a chord with you?

“Hire people that are more experienced than yourself! “ And I couldn’t agree more. I think my generation are so stuck on wanting success fast and having a youthful company which I totally understand. Training the next generation is the future; we bring fresh ideas, a new take on things. We are more fearless than the generation before. But nothing is as good as experience. I have been in the industry for 12 years and hiring a skilled team that have double the amount of years on you is great because there is always something that I can learn from them.

What are your short, mid and long-term goals for Sinclair London?

Short term goals are to make sure all the foundations are set. There are 2 roles in which I need to add and making sure we have the right systems in place. Expand our market share by expanding our product range.

Mid term goals 6 months plus – drive business forward by gaining more business through collaborations and partnerships. Which will allow us to invest more into our marketing.

Long term – Open our first flagship store in the UK and begin to expand overseas in the US and Europe first.

As a ‘boss’ what would you say is your management style and has it evolved?

One of my favorite books is “The Rockefeller Habits” by Verne Harnish. It’s a brilliant book and talks about the priorities and systems all businesses need to have to create a highly successful company. I have used this book as an inspiration to create a management style that works for me. So every Monday at 8:30am I have a management leadership conference call with my operations team which consists of 5 of us where we look at what the main goals are the that quarter and then we break it down month by month then week by week. Following I have a production meeting with my girls to talk about what clients we are making for and then financial calls with my account. I have designed an internal system where I post updates of what’s happening internally and externally in the business where the whole team can read in their leisure. I personally think it’s really important to keep your team engaged and inspired about what’s to come. So a few good systems we have in place and I am sure more will develop as time goes on.

Finally, what advice would you give to a young designer hoping to break into the industry?

I would say firstly build your support network and develop relationships. From mentors, entrepreneurs, investors and network as much as you can. Everywhere you go try and build those strong relationships as you never know when you will need to call upon them.

Find someone who you like the route they have taken in the industry and reach out to them for guidance – people are always willing to help you if you are genuine.

Develop a plan on the type of designer you want to be and why. Where you want to take the business. One thing I learnt from my mentor is developing a time plan which funny enough started out on a napkin which I still have today.

And most importantly – Listen. Be humble, don’t think you know it all. Take constructive criticism gracefully and learn about the industry. Self education is the best power tool. I think if you want to be successful in business you have to have a genuine interest in it. Learn what makes other brands successful, how they do it and why.

Thank you Alicya

Thank you Karen

Interviewed by Karen Bryson

Alycia Sinclair

Michael B Jordan – GQ ‘Man of the Year’

Michael B. Jordan Cover-GQ-December-120118-01 - ii

With the mega-success of Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan has suddenly become one of the world’s biggest leading men. Quite an achievement, sure, but the aspiring mogul is aiming way, way higher than mere movie star.

“I want to be worldwide,” Michael B. Jordan tells me, describing his movie-star aspirations: like Tom Cruise, like Leonardo DiCaprio, like Will Smith.

We’d been talking about the kinds of opportunities given to the very biggest male stars at the very top of the upper echelons of Hollywood. I ask him, why Tom Cruise

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“Great actor, movie star. Everywhere, hard worker,” Jordan replies.

Why Will Smith?

“Great actor. Extremely hard worker. Focused, business-savvy movie star that can open up all over the world. Those are things I want.”


“Why Leo? The Pussy Posse?” I ask.

“Pussy Posse? Woooooooow,” he drawls. “That’s…your words not mine, man,” Jordan says, putting his hands up, professing zero awareness of DiCaprio’s once lascivious circle of ’90s-era pals. “I didn’t even know that existed. Cool name,” he says with a laugh, revealing a dimple as deep and dangerous as a sinkhole in Florida pavement. “Leo,” he continues. “Patient. Makes great choices. Has an air of elusiveness.”

Jordan wants to be the sort of star who is unimpeachable, and he’s found himself, at this stage in his career, suddenly in a place where he can express those lofty ambitions without anyone suggesting he has delusions of grandeur.

He’s telling me all this in an empty tapas restaurant in an Atlanta hotel. He’s a little tightly wound, even though he’s dressed to relax—Adidas pool slides, socks, Nike joggers, and a gray Stadium Goods hoodie that wants to be loose but can’t. He’s got less than 12 hours to learn lines and get some decent sleep before a 5 a.m. call time on the set of Just Mercy, the new film he’s starring in alongside Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx. The biopic, centered on death-row lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s best-selling memoir, is one of the first projects Jordan’s new company, Outlier Society Productions, is putting out into the world. Hollywood, Jordan says, is getting better for creators of color, “because we’re starting to realize our worth more and what we bring to the table.”

It was just over a year ago that he was here in Atlanta, filming Black Panther—the film that completed his journey from wiry child star to soap-opera actor to full-on celluloid idol. If it was 2013’s Fruitvale Station that made everyone realize, damn, that kid can act, and Creed, two years later, that made everyone realize, damn, that kid’s a star, it was Black Panther that catapulted him to new heights.

We take it for granted now that the Wakanda salute is as recognizable as a peace sign, but Hollywood executives were never sure Black Panther would do what it has. That’s because the industry had never seen anything like it before: a Marvel movie with a predominantly black cast, a story rooted in Afro-centric mythology, a film with a full-blown Kendrick Lamar album for a soundtrack. And Jordan was different, too, cast to play against type as Killmonger, a hotheaded Malcolm X–like antihero who had his hair in strategically emulatable twists.

michael b jordan - black panther


When its director, Ryan Coogler, who had previously teamed up with Jordan on Fruitvale Station and Creed, was given a budget of $200 million, he was also given the burden of proof: Show us what a “black film” can do. Black Panther became a cultural revolution. Wakanda is now part of the lexicon; children throw Black Panther–themed birthday parties and clutch action figures. More important to the suits, it was a financial win. The movie made $1.3 billion and is the only Marvel project earning genuine Oscar whispers. Jordan quickly rap-rap-raps on the wood table when I mention it. “Let’s not jinx it,” he says.

Close up of Michael B Jordan in a shearling hoodie and turtleneck with a snowy backdrop.
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When Jordan was filming the fourth season of Friday Night Lights, creator Peter Berg pulled him aside. “You’re going to get tired of waiting for the phone to ring and being told what to do and being on set and listening to a director all the time,” Jordan remembers Berg telling him, encouraging him to take control. “You got to write your own stories. You got to create your own properties. You gotta create your own I.P., and then you can dictate how things go.”

Berg’s advice stuck with him, says Jordan, who knew he wanted to dictate the course of his career from the very beginning. When he was 11, Jordan was told by a receptionist in his doctor’s office that he should model. And with the support of his parents—his father, Michael, a former Marine; and his mother, Donna, an artist and a social worker—he did. From there, he spent chunks of his childhood in the car, driving with his parents to acting auditions.

By 14, Jordan had landed on The Wire, playing Wallace, a baby-faced drug dealer with cornrows and a heart so good that David Simon, the show’s creator, knew killing him off would be the most emotional gut punch the series could deliver in its first season.

Michael B Jordan and Idris Elba - The Wire

“Everybody liked me too much,” Jordan recalls with a cocky smile. Nobody expected the death, and everyone was destroyed, Jordan remembers: the cast, the crew, the audience. Devastating, yes, but actually a fairly good indication of how he’s become a film star. He was so likable, he had to get a bullet in the chest. And in the roles he took next—Vince Howard on Friday Night Lights; Alex, a love interest with a heartbreaking backstory, on Parenthood; Oscar Grant, an innocent Oakland man gunned down in an act of police brutality, in Fruitvale Station; even a blind patient with a mysterious illness on a single episode of House—Jordan showed a talent for worming his way into hearts and building a little nest there so that viewers couldn’t bear to watch him die or suffer the tiniest bit. That remains a superpower of his, he suggests, “just making people feel.”

When he was 19, Jordan moved to Los Angeles. Eventually, the whole family did, too. Very early on, he resolved that he wouldn’t just accept the stereotypical roles on offer to young black actors. Before he got Fruitvale, it was a struggle: He was frequently offered auditions for parts that felt at best like variations on Wallace and at worst like stereotypical “thug” roles.

michael b jordan - fruitvale station

When there were good parts, he disliked auditioning and seeing kids—his friends—all going up for the same roles. He hated the feeling that the rule of one—there can be only one successful P.O.C. at a time in a white-dominated industry—was at play. “You feel like you’re pitted against each other, in hindsight. I was like, ‘Damn! Everybody should be able to, like, work and grow and eat together. We’re not. Well, then, I guess there’s not enough roles.’ ” Even then, the solution seemed obvious to Jordan: “I guess the only logical thing to do is to create more roles.”

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Hollywood is getting better for creators of color, “because we’re starting to realize our worth more.”

These days, Jordan is in the DiCaprio-ian position to make choices about roles—specifically the ability to turn things down. He and his agent, Phillip Sun, say they now take a color-blind approach to choosing Jordan’s projects, which may sound like a naive post-racial platitude, but they’ve been using it to underwrite a smart business plan for Michael, Inc. “Obviously, there are certain roles in film and television that are specifically African-American, usually period pieces,” Sun tells me. “But why, if he were just an actor, why would he be limited to only those roles? He was like, ‘Why should other people be held back like that? Why shouldn’t stories from different points of view be told more frequently? What is holding people back from doing that?’ And at the end of the day, we all know in Hollywood: It’s star power. If you have the star that wants to lead the way in that way, they’re going to do it.”

Jordan took roles that were originally written as white, like the Human Torch in Fantastic Four. Creed put him at the heart of a franchise that had previously been a star vehicle for a white actor. Coming up, he’s got a remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, in which he’ll play the titular character previously portrayed by Pierce Brosnan and Steve McQueen.

Jordan is doing more than expanding Hollywood’s perceptions; he’s created a new template. “I remember when it used to be like, ‘He’s the next Will Smith,’ ” Jordan says. “Now I’m the example of the next—they’re looking for the next me.”

Michael B Jordan stands with a wolf in snowscape.

Jordan makes much of Operation Worldwide look easy. But there are certain elements of fame that remain a struggle. He doesn’t have a multistep plan for being good at celebrity. He finds it tricky, especially in the post–Black Panther glow.

For a long time, Jordan’s best method for staying above criticism was to just be remote, he says. A tactic borrowed from the insight of another actor he emulates, Denzel Washington.

“One of his famous quotes is, like, ‘Why would I pay to see you on the weekend if I can see you every day during the week?’ ” Jordan is paraphrasing Washington, who was actually paraphrasing Sidney Poitier, but the point is simple: A star ought to cultivate a sense of inaccessibility. “I didn’t want it to be like, ‘Oh, there’s Mike again.’ I want it to be like, ‘Oh shit—Mike’s here.’ ”

Leave them wanting more (which they always do) became his line of defense. Often when he opened up, or tweeted, or was photographed in a club, it became grist for interpretation—and for a stretch there, seemingly everything he did was misinterpreted, he suggests.

It doesn’t matter whom he’s actually dating; the world has its own ideas. He can be friendly with his Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong’o and tweet at her, and if the tweets seem suggestive, the two must be dating. It happened last February, when he tweeted, “Bring them chocolate cakes back. You ready for round 2? #youknowyouwantthis.”

The flirtation turned out to be part of an MTV game show called SafeWord, not an indecent proposal, as fans had hoped and were determined to make true. (In our defense, those tweets were basically erotica.) He’s found it difficult to navigate the expectations—for what he says, for whom he dates—that his fans place on him.

Which is why a question about his relationship status drives Jordan inside his sweatshirt. “I don’t even know how you’re going to write this. I’m so nervous even talking like this,” he says through a layer of cotton.

These days, Jordan insists he’s single. “My career is awesome. It is going great. There’s other places in my life that I’m fucking lacking at. I’m very mature and advanced in a lot of areas of life. Dating may not be one of ’em. My personal life is not. I don’t really know what dating is.” He pauses, cuts himself off.

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“How do you go anywhere normal, chill, just getting to know somebody?” Jordan asks, trying to describe the scrutiny he deals with. “That part of dating is tough.”

He tries a different approach. “But it’s like, I could meet you, right now, boom, right here. Me and you sitting here chilling, whatever. Meal, whatever. Somebody could be over there, see this. And all of a sudden, you’re my girl now.”

I wouldn’t mind this, I say. My personal stock would rise.

“Let it rise, girl, let it rise,” he says generously, then is instantly serious again. “So then they’re going to talk about you, they’re going to find out who you are. They’re gonna find out what your Instagram is, they’re going to find us in that. And all the fan club and everybody else is going to find out who you are, and now you and I are forever associated with one another. So now, how do you go anywhere normal, chill, just getting to know somebody that you just met, that you may not—may or may not—hit it off at all? That part of dating is tough.”

Jordan quickly adds, “Now, I’m not saying options aren’t there. I’m not saying that. But as far as, like, the nuance of dating, it’s just not the same. I’m just going to keep trying to work on myself and build this empire.”

The constant romantic speculation frustrates him. As does the impression among some of his black fans that he spends an inordinate amount of time with white women. He’s always a bit surprised when he seems to disappoint his core group of fans. “Like, damn,” he says. “Of all the places that I’m getting this, it’s coming from here?”

One example: This past summer, Jordan went on vacation. He was bouncing around Europe. He went to Italy. He got on a boat with childhood friend Sterling Brim, the co-host of MTV’s Ridiculousness, and a bunch of women. A bunch of white women. A picture popped up online; headlines called it a “Milky Mayo-y Boat Tour,” a “Beckies Only Boat Party.” For fans who felt that Jordan represented black culture, it seemed like a betrayal.

“Michael wouldn’t say this,” Brim tells me over the phone. “I will. He was getting on the boat, but that was my girlfriend. I have a white girlfriend,” vaguely suggesting that all the white women on the boat in Italy were friends with his girlfriend.

He went on Instagram Live to offer an explanation and really committed to an extended women-as-types-of-milk metaphor: “I like milk. I like chocolate milk. I love chocolate milk. I like almond milk, strawberry milk. You know the Cinnamon Toast Crunch? You know what I’m saying, the milk after that? I like that, too. That’s pretty good.”

It didn’t help.

He sighs, sits up, slides his hands into the kangaroo pouch of his sweatshirt. “In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have. As I was doing it, all my boys, everyone, were just like, ‘Mike, put the phone down.’ But I was like, ‘Nah, I need to get this off my chest.’ I just felt like it was unfair, I guess. I just felt emotional at the time.”

He’s learning to practice some restraint now. Earlier this fall, a quote he’d given Vanity Fair was poorly received. “We don’t have any mythology, black mythology, or folklore,” he told the magazine. “Is this your king?” asked several tweets, turning Killmonger’s most famous line back on him. Jordan read those tweets. Instead of responding, he just stayed quiet.

“I want to make this thing so my family ain’t gotta worry about nothing. I want intergenerational wealth. I’m going to have fun writing my will.”

“I meant we don’t have black mythologies and folklore that’s on the big screen and small screen, period,” he tells me, emphasizing the part of the quote that was missing when it went viral. “And I want to help bring those to the masses, the same stories, bedtime stories, that I was being told of Anansi the Spider and the story of Hannibal and Mansa Musa and all these historical figures!”

Why does it bother him so much? Why does he even read the comments? He shrugs. “I’m human. I’ve got people, friends or whatever, in my life that always want to give me the news and the scoop,” he says.


Recently he announced a purposeful course correction regarding his carefully curated inaccessibility. He’s changing strategies. “I wanna start to connect with you guys on a more personal level so challenging myself to give MORE of me,” he wrote in a caption on Instagram, promising us the gift of himself, raw and unfiltered.

“I’ve been inspired by Will and what he’s done with his social media as of late,” Jordan says, referring to Smith’s recent and explosive commitment to taking part in dance challenges and embarrassing his kids across social media—to the delight of millions upon millions of rapt fans. “Before that, you didn’t know that much about him. That’s why we’re looking at his posts like it’s the best thing since, like, Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, because we haven’t seen this side of him, ever. He’s earned that reveal.”

He admits he’s still trying to figure out his personal formula for fame: “How much to give, how much not to give. What’s off-limits, what’s cool to share, what’s not.”

Michael B Jordan poses with one foot lifted on top of a tree trunk.
This all-brown fall fit is, like, the 87th coolest thing Michael B. Jordan did in 2018.Coat, $1,495, coat (beneath), $995, pants, $348, and beanie, $248, by Boss / Shoes, $1,550, by Santoni / Socks, $21 (for three pairs), by Gold Toe / Watch, $21,000, by Piaget
Michael B Jordan sits on a tree trunk with an owl perched above him.
The Winter Three-Piece Suit: The ultimate winter-style flex? Matching your overcoat to the rest of your fit. Here’s how it’s done with Prada’s famed luxury nylon.Coat, $3,430, shirt, $670, pants, $810, shoes (price upon request), gloves, $350, by Prada / Beanie, $40, by Bricks & Wood / Sunglasses, $495, by Ermenegildo Zegna

For all the milestones Jordan has been notching, he’s left one item conspicuously undone since he moved to Hollywood. He never got a place of his own. So, a few weeks after we meet, he’ll finally be moving out of the home he shares with his parents, into a not-yet-selected bachelor pad that will have a pool, he promises.

For the foreseeable future, he’ll have little time to enjoy it, though. The promotional tour for Creed II looms large on his calendar. It’s a movie he’s proud of and a project he’s worked hard for. Reprising his role as Adonis “Donnie” Johnson, Jordan endured a grueling training schedule to get his body to new levels of objectification-bait for the film. “I wanted to be bigger than I was in the first Creed. More shredded than I was in Black Panther. I just wanted to see evolution,” he explains. “When I look at Creed now, I’m like, ‘I look like a kid.’ I look like a 20-year-old punk.”

michael b jordan - creed 2

I admit to Jordan that I had to hide my eyes in a pillow during all of the fight scenes during Creed, I was so concerned about his face.

“You didn’t watch the fights? That’s the best part!” he exclaims, pushing back his hood. He loved playing Adonis, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, and loved being back in the ring for the sequel and having fists fly at him. “If you’ve never hit someone in the face,” he jokes, “you should do that one time, just to get it out your system.” He punched four people in the face during the making of Creed II.

Beyond the ring, Adonis is dealing with a lot. The film questions relationships. Parenthood. Compromise. What does young love look like nowadays? What do you sacrifice in building a legacy?

When it comes to his own legacy—a word that’s on Jordan’s mind a lot these days—he seems far less concerned with the sacrifices and way more excited about the upside of what he’s building. “I want to make this thing so my family ain’t gotta worry about nothing,” Jordan says of his empire. “My mom and dad, my brother and sister, my nieces, my future nieces and nephews, my future kids—everybody is going to be good. I want intergenerational wealth. I’m going to have fun writing my will. Oh, my God. It’s going to be so much fun.”

Michael B Jordan sits on a tree trunk with a wolf laying in front of him.
Coat, $2,180, shirt, $1,150, pants, $890, by Marni / Boots, $1,450, by Santoni / Ring, stylist’s own

Allison P. Davis is a senior writer at The Cut.

This story originally appeared in the December 2018/January 2019 issue with the title “Is This Your King?”

Note:   Michael B. Jordan shares this years title of Men of the Year with fellow Actors Jonah Hill, named ‘Director of the Year, and the break out star of, the highly  successful movie, “Crazy Rich Asians”, Henry Golding, who was named ‘Star of the Year’!  GQ also introduced their first ‘Woman of the Year’, the incomprable Serena Williams.  As GQ has previously done, they each have their own separate cover for this issue.

Michael B. Jordan Cover-GQ-December-120118-01 - ii



“Becoming Michelle Obama”



Michelle Obama Cover - Best

First Lady Michelle Obama graces the December 2018 Cover of Elle Magazine, as she takes off on a national tour to talk to America, and to promote her new book simply entitled, “Becoming Michelle Obama”. If the Robin Roberts interview was any indication, it seems like it will be an incredible read.

I’m still dreaming about that Michelle Obama/Kamala Harris run for 2020, but would settle for a Joe Biden/Michelle Obama ticket as well.

I just can’t get enough of our girl Chelle, from the south side of Chicago.








Idris Elba Is PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive 2018: “It’s ‘an Ego Boost for Sure”


November 06, 2018 04:48 AM

Sure, he might have already received the title of ‘Order of the British Empire’ for his services to drama — but Idris Elba has now been crowned Sexiest Man Alive!

From his breakthrough role in America as drug kingpin Russell “Stringer” Bell on HBO’s hit series The Wire to his commanding portrayal of Norse God and Asgardian gatekeeper Heimdall in Marvel’s Thor franchise, the British heartthrob, 46, has become one of Hollywood’s biggest — and sexiest — stars.

So what did Elba think when he first heard about his latest title? “I was like, ‘Come on, no way. Really?’” the actor tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “Looked in the mirror, I checked myself out. I was like, ‘Yeah, you are kind of sexy today.’ But to be honest, it was just a nice feeling. It was a nice surprise — an ego boost for sure.”

Idris Elba as PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive

Elba is PEOPLE’s 33rd Sexiest Man Alive, joining a long list of Hollywood’s hottest, starting with a then-29-year-old Mel Gibson in 1985 to last year’s pick Blake Shelton.

Though he was an athlete at his all-boys school in London, playing first-string football, basketball, cricket, hockey and rugby, the actor insists he went through an awkward phase first. “I was very tall and skinny,” says the 6’3″ Elba. “And my name was Idrissa Akuna Elba, okay? I got picked on a little bit. But as soon as I could grow a mustache, I was the coolest kid on the block. Grew a mustache, had some muscles, bonkers.”


When he’s not being one of Hollywood’s brightest stars, Elba might be deejaying in Ibiza, kickboxing in Thailand, or designing his own clothing line, not to mention planning his wedding to his fiancée Sabrina Dhowre, 29, a model, to whom he proposed in February. But picking the happiest moment of his life is easy.

“Being witness to the birth of my children is the biggest and best thing ever,” says Elba, who has a 16-year-old daughter, Isan, and a 4-year-old son, Winston (both from previous relationships). “I’m super doting, big hugs, kisses, lots of love-yous. I’m sure my daughter’s like, ‘All right Dad, chill out.’ My son is still at that age where he loves a cuddle.” ***

“Idris joins acting icon, Denzel Washington, as one of only two (2) African American men to ever grace the cover of People Magazine, with this distinction.  Denzel was named People Magazine’s – Sexiest Man Alive, back in July of 1996!  Some twenty years later in 2016, People Magazine honored another actor of color, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, with this title.  Stay-woke America…  Good-looks, beauty, style, class, and talent, comes in ALL shades.  As a black man, we will take this recognition for Dris graciously!!!  In my culture, when one ‘wins’, we all win!”





6 Coats That Will Stand The Test of Time

Blue Coat Pic and 6 Classic Coat Article


Any halfway decent coat should keep you from turning into a human icicle — but staying warm, dry, and stylish simultaneously takes a bit more thought. Fads, by definition, come and go. Instead of focusing on the trends of the day, we’ve focused our attention on six coat styles that have stood the test of time. Use the information here to educate yourself on the history and anatomy of these classic coats. Once you’re familiar with the basics, you’ll have the tools you need to invest in a coat so timeless that your children will be fighting over it after you’re long gone.

The Pea Coat

Men's Coat Guide: Pea Coat

The pea coat is a thigh length double-breasted coat popularized by the navy, designed to shield seamen against the biting chill of the open sea. To this day, its nautical origins have stuck and many modern pea coats have anchors engraved on the buttons. A pea coat features a double-breasted button closure with a wide notched collar and lapel. Traditionally these coats are made of heavy, scratchy melton wool in either navy or black. As the years have gone by the wool used in making pea coats has softened and the colors available have broadened.

If you’re just beginning your coat collection, a black pea coat is a perfect place to start; it’s timeless, versatile, and warm.

The pea coat allows the wearer to transition from formal to casual with ease. Shrug it on over a T-shirt and jeans and it instantly adds a component of laid-back sophistication. Wear it with a button-up shirt and a pair of slacks and it fits in seamlessly. If you’re just beginning your coat collection, a black pea coat is a perfect place to start; it’s timeless, versatile, and warm.

The Trench Coat

6 Coats That Will Stand the Test of Time: Trench Coat

Trench coats trace their roots back to World War I, where they were named after the very trenches they were worn in. Thomas Burberry designed trench coats for the British military and later implemented his own special water-repellent fabric known as gabardine. This new fabric was sturdy, lightweight, weatherproof, and could easily be worn over everyday wear. Because of gabardine’s numerous positive attributes, the trench coat transitioned easily from military attire and into mainstream fashion.

Trench coats pair well with both casual and formal attire and make a great all-weather all-occasion coat.

The trench coat is traditionally a long coat that extends to the shins, is double-breasted with wide lapels, and is belted at the waist. A key characteristic of the trench is the numerous details in its construction. A wide vent extends across the back of the coat to allow for more movement and the shoulders are often graced with decorative epaulets. Belting on the cuffs is also common as well as a turndown collar, usually worn flipped upwards. Although a double-breasted closure is traditional, single-breasted versions are also available.

Trench coats pair well with both casual and formal attire and make a great all-weather all-occasion coat. Whether you’re an aspiring heartthrob, à la Humphrey Bogart, or a mysterious sophisticate, à la Inspector Clouseau, the trench coat is an iconic and a solid coat choice. A word of warning: wearing a trench coat when the weather doesn’t warrant it may have you looking like you’ve got something to hide. Anyone wanna to buy a watch?

The Overcoat

6 Coats That Will Stand the Test of Time: Overcoat

Due to the fact that an overcoat is intended to be worn over a standard suit, it tends to feature a wider cut. Generally, an overcoat is constructed of high-quality wool fabrics that are designed to withstand harsh weather. Its original construction includes a single-breasted closure, notched collar, flap pockets, and a welt pocket at the chest. When an overcoat is lighter in weight and intended for less extreme weather conditions, it is often called a topcoat. When it is heavier in weight it is sometimes called a greatcoat.

When an overcoat is lighter in weight and intended for less extreme weather conditions, it is often called a topcoat.

The overcoat has a minimal and features little in the way of ornamentation. This simplicity is the reason that it pairs well with most suits. Because this coat is intended for more formal affairs, a dark or neutral color may prove to be a more versatile investment. Though subtle in its styling, this classic coat has graced the shoulders of some of history’s most intriguing characters. Al Capone, for one, was known to don this number over his classic pinstripe suits during his devious dealings in Chicago.

The Car Coat

6 Coats That Will Stand the Test of Time: Car Coat

The car coat was initially designed to keep drivers warm from the wind while driving old fashioned open cars. Its slight A-line cut and wide cuffs were intended to allow a full range of motion while driving. The car coat is customarily made of heavy wool and features a flat front placket over its closure to shield from wind and rain. A typical car coat is thigh-length with a straight collar and two welt pockets. The type of closure varies between a zipper and buttons, though buttons are most common.

The car coat is a utilitarian coat that isn’t heavy on the details but gives stylish minimalism to any outfit.

The car coat is a utilitarian coat that isn’t heavy on the details but gives stylish minimalism to any outfit. It can easily be dressed up or down and is a great basic for your everyday adventures.

The Duffle Coat

6 Coats That Will Stand the Test of Time: Duffle Coat

The duffle coat adopted its name from the rough and tough wool fabric it was originally made of: duffel. Like many coats, the duffle coat owes its popularity in modern day fashion to its military origins. Duffle coats were a garment of the British Royal Navy during World War I and II and its iconic toggle closure was designed to be able to be fastened and unfastened while wearing gloves out at sea. This coat usually has three to four toggles known as “walrus teeth” that are fastened with leather or rope loops. Its oversized hood was originally designed to allow room for a naval cap to remain on underneath. This coat also features a buttonable strap at the neck and two patch pockets. Besides the toggles, a defining characteristic of the duffle coat is its fuzzy tartan lining. Modern versions of this coat usually end at about hip-length, although more original versions extend to the knee.

This coat is usually worn casually because its bright characteristics would drastically dress down a formal outfit.

This coat is usually worn casually because its bright characteristics would drastically dress down a formal outfit. The duffle coat is perfect for running errands or grabbing drinks with a friend.

The Parka

6 Coats That Will Stand the Test of Time: Parka

When it comes to weathering the elements, the parka is king. It was initially conceived by the Caribou Inuit to cope with extreme Arctic climates during hunting expeditions. Back then, parkas were constructed of caribou or seal skin. The parkas of today are made from lightweight synthetic materials and lined with down. These updated materials have added bulk to the original design and contribute to the modern parka’s puffy look. It is not uncommon to hear a parka referred to as a “puffer” coat. A parka ranges in length from waist-length to knee-length and generally features a large and fur-lined hood and a zipper closure.

When it comes to weathering the elements, the parka is king.

Though some use the words “parka” and “anorak” interchangeably, this is inaccurate. An anorak is technically a pull-over jacket as opposed to the parka’s open-front coat structure.

The parka creates a sporty look best suited for casual attire and makes for a fantastic outer shell to your other cold-weather layers. You won’t want to find yourself caught in a blustery snowstorm without one.

Warm Regards

After the purchase of a tailored suit and a great pair of dress shoes, a classic coat should be the next item to check off your list. Staying warm and stylish is effortless when you select one of the iconic coats mentioned above. Which style will you be adding to your closet next?


American design house Coach has announced actor and producer Michael B. Jordan as the first global face of the Coach menswear business. His partnership with Coach will include global advertising campaigns for men’s ready-to-wear, accessories and fragrance, beginning with the spring 2019 season. The partnership will also include special design projects with creative director Stuart Vevers and philanthropic endeavors with the Coach Foundation.

Michael B. Jordan for Coach - coach-michael-b-jordan-announcement-092018-PR

Founded in New York more than 75 years ago, Coach began as a men’s accessories brand and has built its reputation on leather innovation and craftsmanship. Today, it is a global fashion brand defined by a free-spirited attitude rooted in New York City. Jordan, a star who is redefining Hollywood standards as a leading man and producer, creating opportunity and empowering the careers of others, is also a long-time friend of the brand and shares Coach’s belief in the modern American Dream and values of optimism and inclusivity.

“I’m honored to be joining the Coach family and have so much respect for Stuart Vevers’ vision,” said Jordan. “I’m looking forward to jumping into the creative process and exploring fashion through a different lens.”

“Michael is cool and authentic, and he really embodies the Coach guy,” added Vevers. “I’ve had the chance to get to know Michael over the last couple of years. He always looks great in Coach, so it felt really natural to build our relationship.”



I had the pleasure of participating in a wonderful webinar in Washington, DC, on Tuesday April 18, 2017.  The AARP webinar entitled “From Passion to Profit”, was all about people learning how to turn their passion into a business venture.

I was honored to share the panel with two other incredible entrepreneurs, Andrea Viera of, located in D.C., and Amy Reed of, located in Ashburn, VA. The webinar was hosted by renowned musician and wine producer, Marcus Johnson, the founder and owner of

If you didn’t get a chance to tune in, I have attached a video from the webinar, in which some great information was shared for anyone thinking of turning their passion into a profitable business. If you have yet to try Marcus’ Flo brand wines, they are absolutely incredible!  And as always, visit us a, for all of your custom menswear needs.

Michael Alan Humphrey Sr.





“Style is primarily a matter of instinct!” Bill Blass

Bill Blass was a heralded American fashion designer of both men’s and women’s wear, who graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York. He was a 7-time Coty Award winning designer, who was also honored by FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), with it’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

I have always loved his quote regarding ‘style’, but is that to say, either you have style instinctively/intuitively, or you don’t? I don’t think so, as I do believe that developing great style is something that can be taught, encouraged, and/or self-enhanced! I truly believe that either through classroom training, great mentors, self-education, learning from history, and practice, the ‘intuitiveness’ that accompanies great style, can be attained by those eager and open to learn. I am ALWAYS learning!

It is important to note above all, that style is relative, as it’s definition is not the same from one individual to the next, and that too should always be respected! Know the greats, learn from their iconic ways and design aesthetic, spend some time in a museum, read, take in a Broadway or Off-Broadway show, travel to experience different cultures, read some more, and develop and nurture your own stylistic genius and instinct!



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