Just when you thought it was over

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Black history month has ended.

However, black history is longer than the days your ancestors spent in the cotton fields.

Let’s not only embrace our rich melanin for 28 days.

Luckily, this year we had an extra day to celebrate!

Let’s not only unite for 672 hours.

Stop pulling the trigger of a glock 40, and start pulling our brothers together.

Let’s not only acknowledge our worth in 40320 minutes.

Let’s spend every second using our gifts to motivate individuals to build empires.

For instance, Grammy award winning artist and creative director of Yeezy Season 3, Kanye West, released an album called “The Life of Pablo.”

In his song ‘FML,” he states “God I am willing to make this my mission, to give up the women before I lose half of what I own.”

West used his voice to speak to individuals destined for greatness but who are jeopardizing their work because they’re consumed by an addiction.

But every black man does not have to be a rapper to express their black identity.

Besides, all black men don’t have bars, despite the fact that so many are behind bars.

According to Michelle Alexander, an Ohio State University law professor and civil right activist, there are more black men behind bars than were enslaved in 1850.

Black men are intrigued by other forms of art, such as photography and fashion design.

Juan Veloz, a self-taught photographer from Brooklyn, N.Y., is eager to create photography nonstop, as he continues to discover faces that are unappreciated in the fashion industry.

“I would to do amazing editorials with models who are considered to be underdogs,” says Veloz.

Amongst all the talented photographers in New York, I can only imagine the challenges a black photographer faces.

Photographed by Juan Veloz
Photographed by Juan Veloz

“I feel as if the only person holding individuals back in life are themselves,” said Veloz. “My confidence has improved throughout the years. Rome was not built in a day and neither was my confidence.”

Many young black men have been slaughtered by police, and it has motivated Veloz to reach for his fullest potential as he develops his creativity.

In today’s society many black individuals are discouraged to work for success due to the lack of color in fashion, music and media industries.

However, Veloz believe you have to own that you’re black.

“We have to encourage ourselves more and stop letting society corner us,” said Veloz. “Trust your gut. When you do create you create for yourself, let the color of your skin move through your creativity and above all believe in yourself like no other!”

Through the challenges, Veloz has gained confidence and the opportunity to work with Michael Williams, a fashion photographer. He has improved as an artist. “I am not in the same spot I was in last year,” said Veloz.

Veloz has filmed videos for MonicaStyle Muse, a fashion YouTube vlogger. “Growing and learning about myself as an artist, I see myself still creating, getting my mother out of the hood,” said Veloz. Next Veloz wants to open his own photography gallery.

Another example of a positive black male figure is Wes Woods, a fashion designer from Bowie, Md., and a graduate from N.C. Central University’s Human Science Department.

Wood was just a sophomore when he developed a clothing brand called Original Crackage in October 2012.

There aren’t many black mainstream designers in the fashion industry. Woods said it’s been difficult and challenging to reach different markets.

He says you can’t get discouraged but you have to believe in everything you do.

“I don’t only use black models because I want my brand to be appealing to all audiences,” said Woods.

Fortunately, Woods has broken into the fashion industry by applying his knack of creativity.

“In today’s time no matter of your race, creativity can never go unnoticed,” said Woods.

Many people label black fashion designers as “black” designers and Woods said considers himself as both.

“I am black and proud, but I rather be referred to as a fashion designer,” he said.

Woods said he is motivated to embrace his individuality through his designs and to accomplish things he never imagine.

His mission is to create clothing that can be accepted by people all over the world for its innovative and original look.

“I just kept grinding, pushing, designing, and working strategically until more opportunities opened up for me,” he said.

Original Crackage was showcased in New York Fashion Week. Wood also was granted the opportunity to showcase his designs in Europe.

Model wearing Original Crackage designed by Wes Woods.
Model wearing Original Crackage designed by Wes Woods.

“I’m thankful that my designs are accepted, it’s a blessing,” said Woods. “It’s a great feeling.”

Woods work speaks for itself, but he pushes other individuals to be just as diligent.

“When it’s all said and done, it’s either you achieved your goals or failed,” said Woods. “You don’t want to be in the position where you felt like you came up short because you only get one shot at this.”

Woods has grown by producing collection after collection.

“It’s made me a more devoted worker and I have more value for my accomplishments and my talent,” said Woods.

Woods is a full time designer who knows consistency is big. He is currently developing new product types and collections.

Juan Veloz and Wes Woods, are building their own empires.

As these two black men have done, we have to build our own legacies.

They say history repeats itself, so let’s make our name redundant.

We cannot live forever. But we can be forever remembered.

 

Wes Woods Instagram: stripeking_

Juan Veloz Instagram: jveloz

MonicaStyle Muse Instagram: monicastylemuse

 

Although the imprisonment statistic for black men is increasing every day, Melquan Ganzy decided to take a different path. As a unique maturing man, he has learned to live for what makes him truly happy. Ganzy lives by the quote, “Individuality is the key to living for one’s truth.” Ganzy is a senior mass communication student, who’s also minoring in apparel design. Upon graduating on May 14, 2016, he hopes to attend The New School of Parson in New York City. His ultimate career goal is to become a prominent black fashion creative director and editor. Fashion is his happiness, and freedom of expression. Words from Melquan Ganzy: In my journey as a college student, I’ve grown to live with patience and remain true to one, knowing that everything happens for a reason. It depends on one whether he or she decides to dwell on challenges and to allow the situation to retain one from reaching their fullest potential in life. Staying true allows one to accept the things that possibly permanent. Unfortunately, everyone experience difficult challenges in life, but fortunately everyone has a story. My story could be a positive influence on the next person. In all, I will continue to be patient and true.

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