CHARLES BLOW

CHARLES BLOW

One of the most persistent statistical bludgeons of people who want to blame black people for any injustice or inequity they encounter is this: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), in 2013 in nearly 72 percent of births to non-Hispanic black women, the mothers were unmarried. 

It has always seemed to me that embedded in the “If only black men would marry the women they have babies with…” rhetoric was a more insidious suggestion: that there is something fundamental, and intrinsic about black men that is flawed, that black fathers are pathologically prone to desertion of their offspring and therefore largely responsible for black community “dysfunction.” 

TA-NEHISI COATES

TA-NEHISI COATES

 In one of his more interesting comic sketches, Chris Rock compares one group of African Americans, "niggas," to another more wholesome group, "black people." "You know what really bugs me about niggas is the way they always take credit for stuff a normal man would just do," says Rock. "Like, 'I raised my kids.'" 

By Rock's definition, I know exactly where I belong among African Americans today. For I am sure that even for this meager deed of fatherhood I am performing, I deserve a lot more than credit. My mission sounds simple enough: carting my young son through West Manhattan to visit another friend, working in Chelsea. I have logged enough baby hours to earn the title "stay-at-home dad," so I'm not exactly new to this. But our trek into the city elicits terror because of three converging factors: 1.) I am a hefty 6'4" black male--- anything can happen. 2.) It's Manhattan---everything might happen. 3.) My son is 7 months old---something always happens. 

DEVON STILL

DEVON STILL

When I revealed Leah’s battle with cancer to the public and put my football career on hiatus, people called me a hero. But I’ve never thought of myself in that way. I think of myself as a father who would do anything to care for his child. If that makes me a hero, then it’s time to acknowledge every dad who puts his children’s needs before his own. Any father wants what’s best for his children—but it doesn’t end there.

PHIFE: A TRIBE CALLED QUEST

PHIFE: A TRIBE CALLED QUEST

On March 22nd the world of music lost PHIFE DAWG, and I don't know about you but it felt like loosing a treasured friend from back in the day. One with whom I shared too many head boppin' moments with. As a tribute to the man, the group; ICON MANN men actor/poet OMARI HARDWICK , star of the hit show POWER, and James Lopez, Head of Motion Picture for Will Packer Productions pay their respects in verse and audible. Much respect to Artist Demont Pinder for the original portrait. There will never be another. R.I.P Phife.  

SEYDOU KEITA

SEYDOU KEITA

Leaders are often self-taught. They are not inclined to follow the rules set by another. There is a inspired vision that drives them to make it real, and achieve what has consumed their mind's eye. This is the case of Malian photographer SEYDOU Keïta who without any prior photography experience, or resources, emerged as one of the greatest Portraiture Photographers of the 20th Century. Born in Bamako, Mali in 1921, Keïta did not have his first solo show until more than sixty years later in 1994 in Paris. Now recognized internationally as the father of African photography, Keïta's uncompromising lens displayed the beauty, strength, majesty, and swagger of ebony with only the most minimal of resources. Popular lore has it that he only took one photo per person in order to conserve the few film resources he had.

SWIZZ BEATZ

SWIZZ BEATZ

Disruption comes in all forms. It is a language that leaders know all to well. Born to the same status quo as others, they look at the system and see the improvements that only they have the ability to engineer. Such is the case of Grammy award-winning, super producer Kasseem Dean, aka SWIZZ BEATZ, who is positively changing the business of education, health care, and art.  Swizz emerged on the rap music scene at the tender age of 16 with a board full of beats -not samples- that launched the Ruff Ryders era of music domination. Since 1994, Swizz has been creator of chart-topping singles and albums for the likes of Beyonce, Chris Brown, DMX, Eve, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Cassidy, Noreaga, Musiqsoulchild, Ludacris, Rakim, Pusha T, and many others. An avid art collector, in 2015 at Art Basel, Swizz announced the pre-launch of THE DEAN COLLECTION, an art fair/mobile gallery featuring a personally curated ensemble of the world's most renowned and emerging artists on the scene today.

FILM: HALF OF A YELLOW SUN

FILM: HALF OF A YELLOW SUN

Seductive is the mid-sixties Nigeria depicted through the eyes of two affluent sisters whose lives are ravaged by the outbreak of Nigerian civil war. Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejifor and a fresh-faced John Boyega—before J.J. Abrams and Star Wars came calling—lead this beautifully shot film starring sirens Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose. A well curated score and soundtrack anchored by the legendary Miriam Makeba completes the unforgettable immersion.

ARCHITECT DAVID ADJAYE

ARCHITECT DAVID ADJAYE

There are those who talk about the future, and the shape of things to come-and then there are those who build it. In the case of internationally renown architect David Adjaye he prefers the later. Nearing completion on the final edition to the Washington Mall, Adjaye is building the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Most recently he was shortlisted by the Barack Obama Foundation to build the official Presidential Library in Chicago. A project that will surely fit nicely in a portfolio that includes the urban regeneration of 160 acres of the Naguru-Nakawa areas of Kampala, Uganda with our featured Culture scion Ozwald Boateng, in addition the building of Msheireb's Downtown in Doha.

ICON MANN SYLLABUS: BOOKS WE LOVE

ICON MANN SYLLABUS: BOOKS WE LOVE

When diving into a modern literary work, I relish the journey of discovering the author's connective tissue. Who inspired them? In the case of Americanah author, the Nigerian born Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie it is the late-great father of post-colonial fiction Chinua Achebe. About Achebe she says, "Chinua Achebe will always be important to me because his work influenced not so much my style as my writing philosophy: reading him emboldened me, gave me permission to write about the things I knew well." Men, strong layered Black men are who Achebe knew better than most. They were always central to his work. ICON MANN if you did not attend Bard College in the '90s or later at Brown University, then you missed out on having a front row with one of the greatest literary voices to emerge from the Continent to date. Allow us to make a proper introduction and give you something transformative to binge this weekend.

JAM SESSION: FELA KUTI

JAM SESSION: FELA KUTI

Tell me what is not to love about a man who paved his own way in the world -literally and figuratively marching to the beat of his own drum. Nothing-you love it all! Born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, but you can call him FELA KUTI, or just FELA. He was the musician, composer, political disruptor, and human rights advocate who dared to say 'Music Is The Weapon,' and mean it. Born and based in Nigerian, traveling by van to gig, living in a compound with his squad, Fela refused to be moved by any force that was not an Afrobeat.

LYNETTE YIODOM-BOAKYE

LYNETTE YIODOM-BOAKYE

You've heard it said before. We've all heard it said before, "You black man come from kings." Yet when confronted only with the visual references of our collective oppressed history it can be difficult to see beyond the negativity and stereotypes that have penetrated a reality that all to often provides not foundational basis for one to assert that you Black man do in fact come from kings -or better yet that you Black man have as much a place in modernity as anyone else. British artist LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE for great measure missed that narrow minded diatribe. Her impressive, and high-coveted art work is emotive and intimate in a way that makes one say, "YES!"   Yes, I know that guy in the pink shirt.  Yes, I know those eyes, and that smile. It's my father, brother, uncle, lover, husband, friend. Yes, I know that Black man, and he knows me.

ICON MANN SYLLABUS: BOOKS WE LOVE

ICON MANN SYLLABUS: BOOKS WE LOVE

The first Jamaican to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for literary fiction, and he did so skillfully crafting a narrative around 15 prominent characters in the assassination attempt on the iconic Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley. MARLON JAMES penned A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS, a tour du force that shows the reverberating power of connectivity as it exits the late 70's rum-soaked coasts of Kingston to an expanse reaching the crack wars of 1980's New York City.