Chicago, summer of 1996. Tatia (pronounced Tasha) Adams was a graduate of Savannah State University when she got a job working for Heart & Soul magazine, then MTV in Chicago. Invited to a pool party filled with entertainment luminaries reminiscent of a Hype Williams video set, she recalls, “I had never been to a house that massive! All these people were there. I was just in the cut observing.” But her friend Amy wasn’t having it. She kept bringing guys over to meet Tatia, and they wanted to meet her.
More impressed by the house than by her suitors, Amy introduced her to Mic (pronounced Mike) Charles Fox, practically the only guy who didn’t try to talk to her at the party. Like Tatia, he was career-oriented, and lived in Washington, DC, where she thought her career might take her next. Mic remembers, “I thought she was beautiful, but there were no sparks between us.”
Mic, who attended North Carolina A&T, worked at Radio One and was fresh out of a five-year relationship. For at least a year, the two were just friends, with true friendship the only benefit. “I would try and hook him up with my friends, and we stayed at each other’s home when we traveled.”
Tatia’s priorities were in check. “Coming from Savannah, moving to Chicago, I was on a mission. I would date, but anyone I dated would have to understand: it’s job, grad school and then us.”
At the time, Mic was further in his career—so he was supportive of her goals, and they encouraged each other. They had a great bond; but the tides turned one night at a club. A guy trying to talk to her got very aggressive. Mic stepped in and let him know he wouldn’t be talking to Tatia just any kind of way. After defending her honor, she said to herself, “I think I like him.” This was an uncomfortable feeling, she says. “I didn’t want to ruin what we had as friends.”
Everything stopped for a few months. No visits, no fun with her friend Mic. “Furthermore, I didn’t think he liked me like that. We were so cool, and I had tried to hook him up with my friends!” It was unsettling.
After about two months, he called. “Is everything okay? Haven’t heard from you in a while.” Tatia’s replies were curt, but the reality was, she was trying to sort out and dismiss her feelings.
Tatia, working for MTV, had an entertainment industry lifestyle. “I would rarely sleep. I worked 12 hours a day, then I’d go hang ‘for drinks’ after work, then go out to the club. Then, of course, we’d go to breakfast. This was, like, Monday through…” She pauses and laughs. “Monday through Sunday! It was nonstop! My friends and I worked hard and played hard.” But there was a point at which, going out with her friends stopped fulfilling her. Her friends noticed. But they also knew what she wouldn’t acknowledge: she missed Mic.
One night after the club, she went to breakfast with friends around three in the morning. “When I got home, it was 5:30 a.m. I felt a strong urge to call him.” While a call at this time of the morning is usually called drunk dialing, she couldn’t blame it on the alcohol; she didn’t drink at the time.
Mic knew who it was, but at 5:30am, he too had just gotten home from the club in his city and was half asleep. Realizing that this was not the most well thought out decision, she hung up the phone.
Forty minutes later, her phone rang. It was Mic. She apologized for calling. He said, “It’s cool, I’m just calling back to make sure you’re okay.” When they got off the phone, Mic had a strong urge to see her. He booked an eight a.m. flight to Chicago from D.C. with no warning. “I had to see her. It was a spur of the moment decision. But we weren’t a couple. So I remember thinking, this might be an unwelcome visit.” Before venturing to ring her bell, “I called her just in case…”
Tatia recalls, “He called me and said, ‘Look out the window. There should be a tall guy waving across the street. That’s me. I wanted to take you to brunch.’ You flew here to take me to brunch?!” The coolest. He flew back to DC that evening.
The couple did the long-distance relationship dance for a while until they both ended up with jobs in great jobs in New York City. Tatia took her marketing degree to heart. “I searched the best brands in the country. Playboy and Universal/Motown Records were among them.” Then she saw an ad on hotjobs.com for a college marketing job at Playboy that read “no calls please.” She called, wiggled her way into an interview and got the job.
This, too, was the late 1990s. Companies turned their focus toward the urban market and music culture, realizing the money they weren’t making by ignoring them. This allowed Black professionals to exercise their expertise in areas that actually mattered to them. Mic got a job as director of promotions at Atlantic Records, which elevated his esteem and portfolio.
Tatia left Playboy after a year and went to Universal/Motown Records. She started as a product manager. There for seven years, she left she as vice president of marketing.
“I think that anything possible. My dad used to say, ‘You see the world through rose-colored glasses.’ I just believe that if you want to do something, you work hard towards it and you do it.”
The couple lived in Harlem for a year. Mic started thinking, “I better lock this lady down! She was taking French lessons and started thinking over moving to Paris. I was like, wait a minute! I have this great job here. I can’t keep doing this jet-set relationship!”
In 2002, Mic—always on top of his romance game—took Tatia to Paris and asked her to marry him. The following year they were married, in Thailand (where Tatia’s mother is from). “I always knew I didn’t want [the standard American wedding]. So getting married in Thailand was perfect,” Mic says. For their 10th anniversary this year, “I surprised Tatia with a trip to Copenhagen.”
After they had their first child, Tatia suggested they sell their house and travel the world. She meant it. Mic said, “Tash, that doesn’t make any sense, selling the house. After we do that, we come back to what?” Tatia appreciates this attribute in her hubby. “Mic is analytical. If both of us were willing to risk it all, I really don’t know where we’d be. I really don’t. He’s more, ‘Let’s think about this and dissect this.’ I guess you could say that he calms me down.”
Tatia’s father says he couldn’t have asked for a better son-in law. Tatia quotes her dad: “If there were more Mics in the world, there would be more happy moms and wives.”
“I’ve always had respect for Tatia’s parents,” Mic says. “Tatia’s father is a notable jazz musician, and we just click as family. I never understood people in a marriage who didn’t get along with their in-laws. I always wanted my in-laws to accept me as their own family.”
Mic, reared in North Carolina, was estranged from his father for most of his life. “My mom did a phenomenal job as a single parent. I call her on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day!” He continues, “The relationship between my father and I has always been difficult, but I was able to take care of him for the last weeks of his life.”
Fatherhood is an empowering, uplifting task for Mic. The Foxes have two children, 8-year-old Thailer (pronounced Tyler) and Sumari, 5. “I remember holding Thailer for the first time, and although she was only eight pounds, I felt the weight of the world in my hands. I was thinking, for the rest of my life I am responsible for this being. She will always know I am responsible for her. But I seriously thought to myself that day, this is why you’re here. This is your true purpose.”
“Sumari is strong-willed and systematic. If she asks you a question, she’s already thought about the answer. She talks a lot. You understand what she’s thinking by what she says. Thailer is more of a spiritual bird. Very sensitive. Sumari’s the opposite, she is just in-your-face!
“The other day, we were driving and Sumari said, ‘Daddy, I want to marry you!’ ” Why? he asked. “Because you’re the best!” When they get older and have boyfriends, he wants them to adopt the “if you don’t respect me the way my dad does, you will not be in my life” mindset. What’s most important for Mic is, “When they think of me, that they have great memories. I have some good memories of my father, but not primarily. I want my daughters to have incredible memories.”
The Fox family now lives in South Orange, New Jersey. Mic is an executive in the VEVO global marketing department, and Tatia has her own business, the New School of Etiquette. Growing up in the South, she learned of decorum and how to dine properly, and there were social circles set up to teach young girls that impressed it all upon her. “The real motivation was working at Universal and taking note at how certain artists knew nothing of social manners and graces.”
Doing her research, she knew there were other etiquette coaches, so she wanted to do something to set her apart from the rest. She was certified at the Protocol School in Washington, DC. While she has since worked with
Mariah Carey’s Career Camp and Rutgers University among others—on matters like how to interview for a job to business dining decorum—her primary passion is to teach children. “My first class for kids was offered for free. I hoped to get at least 10 kids that day.” But her charter class, held in her backyard, had 45 students sign up, many boys. “I can do this with my eyes closed. I get paid to do it and I truly enjoy it,” she says.
Since the birth of Thailer, Mic has video documented most of his life featuring Tatia Adams Fox. “Tatia is a strong woman, and she’s made me realize things about myself that I didn’t know. Some men may take issue with this, but I believe that women drive the train.” Mic believes the key to a healthy family unit is to be able to work well together, be spontaneous and maintain a fun household. “We’re going to live this life day by day,” he says. “And at the end of the story, we will have all these years and memories together.”
The Coolest Black Family in America is an EBONY.com original series: an ongoing look at the intricacies, layers and compelling beauty of African-American family life. Of course, The Coolest Black Family is not one family but many. In fact, we’ve found that there are as many Coolest Black Families as there are versions of cool. Also consider: family doesn't always mean mother + father + kids. What defines family is connected hearts and supported souls. Ride with us weekly as we crisscross the country in search of kinfolk whose cool is so palpable and real, it comes second only to their love. Think your cool fam qualifies? Email us at [email protected] (with Coolest Black Family in the subject line)!
Joicelyn Dingle travels to find the Coolest Black Family in America exclusively for EBONY.com. She splits her time between Savannah and Brooklyn. She is currently completing a documentary on the making of Honey magazine and the 1990s urban publishing era. Friend her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @editorialgenius.