One of my fondest memories as an undergrad at Northwestern University centers on a time-honored tradition called “Tribute to Black Men.” Once a year, the fellas on campus would crowd into a darkened theater dressed in their finest dorm attire to be honored in a full-on variety show put on by their female peers. We recited poetry, sang, danced and performed sketches all for one purpose: to celebrate and uplift our brothers. We ladies spent weeks rehearsing and preparing for this spectacle, curating the messages that would make our male audience feel like kings. (Before you ask, the gentlemen exerted the same effort when it was time to shower praise and love on the queens.)
In retrospect, our meager budgets and busy study schedules didn’t allow us to make the production another Hamilton, but it was effective. For all the ways society tries to get us to turn on one another, this special evening offered us the opportunity to acknowledge the beauty, knowledge, strength and resilience of our brothas. It truly felt like a sacred space.
This edition of the magazine is no different. The Men’s Issue is a love letter to all the men in our lives who love, support and sustain us. We kick it off with our cover star, the incomparable Kevin Hart. This comedian, whose savvy and talent have paid off in the multimillions, is no joke. To snatch a phrase from another man I admire, Jay Z. He’s a business, man. That’s why instead of his usual (and admittedly) laughter-inducing antics, we focused our shoot on showing you the man behind the mic. He’s a boss. He’s a leader. He’s a rock star. He’s a strategist, and dare I say it, he’s deep-chocolate handsomeness in an assortment of Old Hollywood-style suiting. (Hope I’m not crossing a line and won’t get a visit from his beautiful new wife, Eniko.)
Hart, who is one of the most gracious and humble entertainers I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting, shares what motivates him, how he views the world with unrelenting positivity and gets specific about why he isn’t publicly pledging allegiance to the #blacklivesmatter or #allivesmatter movements. This father of two, who brought his adorable son to set, instead describes himself as an “alien,” able to see the world in ways that are different from those of his peers. Find out what that means by delving into the cover story, written by the talented Britni Danielle, our newly minted director of entertainment and culture.
Elsewhere in the issue, we explain how you can emulate Hart’s swag situation with a male-focused winter dressing guide and an assortment of accessories to complete any look. The Wellness section features insightful essays from Black men who have struggled with sharing their emotions, and I hope you’ll take the time to fully appreciate their perspectives. We all know now that encouraging the guys in your life to be Western-movie tough is a recipe for ruin.
That’s not all we’re offering up. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also direct you to our in-depth pre-election coverage since we’re on the cusp of saying goodbye to our beloved First Family. [Wipes away real tears.] Two political experts duke it out over whether our votes truly matter, and we examine local and state races that are just as important, if not moreso, than who ends up in the Oval Office. I’d be doubly remiss though if I didn’t tell you that in my opinion, you’d better get over to those dang polls and punch (or press buttons) like there’s no tomorrow. (Listen, my great-grandmother Mildred “Belle” Cosey marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and helped her fellow Black Mississippians fight for voters rights, soooo what do you expect me to say?)
This is an absolutely amazing issue, obvious and personal biases aside. I hope you’ll read it cover to cover, then hop online and check out EBONY.com to see digital-only exclusives accompanying a number of stories including one about Issa Rae’s new HBO show, Insecure.
Once you’re all done, make sure to send me an email, tag me on Twitter or creep into my DMs on Instagram to let me know what you think. In the meantime, I think I’ll dig up some of that old “Tribute to Black Men” footage and brainstorm ways to make that event—and its queen-feting counterpart—a national holiday.
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Senior Producer, EBONY.com