In the first of our TLoM Profile series, we had a chance to break bread with one of our good brothers, Jason Andrew. Not only is he a #menswear veteran, he's an entreprenuer and a new father. Our conversation covered a variety of topics, here is just some of what we discussed.
When was the moment you realized you wanted to follow your path? And, what were some of the obstacles you encountered?
I always wanted autonomy over my schedule so my career path was just one of many that facilitated that. I was always present to avoid a field that was firmly dictated by market/economy forces. I saw too many generational peers with degrees that, unless they attended top-tier universities, couldn't effectively offset debts accrued for their diploma. I didn't want to be so plugged into the matrix that I was victim to it.
What are some of the things you are struggling with right now?
I think it's a struggle for a lot of folks to siphon the real from fake and getting in touch with things that actually matter. I struggle with the need for validation from likes and views. Social media is now a currency and it's hard to unplug when everyone around you is affixed to their screens. In some spaces your relevance is dictated upon your presence on a multitude of platforms. I believe it creates artificial highs. I struggle with not getting away from this rat race and being pulled in time and time again like the tide.
"At this point my soul is not for leverage, monetary or property exchange."
What is your recipe for a healthy relationship? Romantic or otherwise.
Staying off the gram and not allowing naysayers into your life. It's about energy and not everyone will share joy for your joy. The game has changed in so many ways everything is recorded or else it didn't occur. You can keep health in your “situationship” with some discretion. On that note I feel Jay-Z's 4:44 captured a lot of relational undertones at their best when he said "I'd f*** up a good thing if you let me" and " My consciousness was Mike's (MJ's) common sense." So many quotable lines if you're in a reflective space to absorb. Otherwise, I say have fun make those mistakes but do learn from them and if nothing else temper the ego/humble yourself because we are all flawed.
How do you define masculinity?
I believe masculinity is best defined by generation and era. I feel that classically it has been a construct that has damaged a lot people’s inert happiness and inclinations. I think these things re: labels need new parameters; how do you define responsibility is how I interpret the question. Above all else is a wellness of yourself and the others around you physically but more so psychologically. Masculinity is simply wellness of your community.
What would you say are the successes and shortcomings of the media's portrayal of men of color.
It doesn't matter much how the media portrays us (men of color) it's how we as a majority reinforce types and don't reach for greater due to social constructs that hinder hamper and disable our mobility. The media can only exacerbate what exists. I think of Chi-Town and I've had friends whose homes have been invaded at gun point but that too speaks more to a greater social imbalance. Look at the Detroit water crisis and it real simple people of color within certain communities are not given the humanity extended to others and to be blunt the media at large isn't shining light on that as much as stereotypes. Why undercut Timothy Caughman (re: criminal history). He was a black male slain in broad daylight by homegrown terrorist who is cognizant and travels from his home state of Maryland to kill "black people in NYC" However, in later media reports extoll his remorse and humanity re: he didn't want to put his family though more pain, like it's ok to hunt without a license. Pun intended.