ALWDNY . Mr. Na'eem Douglas
2016 | Location: Brooklyn, NY
WELL THOUGHT . Part 1 : What is the defining principle you attempt to live your life by?
I would say, “Love is King.” I actually got it tattooed on my ribs. No matter what your ideology is, if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you would always treat that person the right way. I guess that’s how I try to live my life and then I try to look good while I’m doing it too. I was interviewed by someone else but I told this guy this too. One time I was college and in college you have all types of test and all other stuff. I didn't study for this test at all. I had no idea what was going on in this class. And I’m walking up to the class, and she goes “Na’eem, Damn! You look good today.” I say “Yeah! I’m about fail this test, so I might as well look good while I’m doing it!” I think, dress how you feel. I try to wake up every morning and feel good. So why not, show that through how I dress.
Recognizing his Philadelphia upbringing and mantra of love, I ask "Were you inspired by the City of Brotherly Love?"
It was believe it or not, I think it started from—it sounds so “cheesy” but, I’m a huge Marvin Gaye fan. So his song—I forget the name of the song but in the song he says, “Go and find the place where love is king.” Its on the “What’s Going On” album but that resonates. If you show that love and talk to some body and appreciate some body else the way you want to be treated, its almost like—theres a 'meem' that says, “I love me, the way Kanye loves Kanye.” Its something crazy like that. Thats why I did the Love Project. It was around that same kind of thing. I think that type of stuff is contagious.
Part2 : What key decision in your life would you define as the turning point or pivotal moment that brought you to your current state of success?
I would say—going away to college. Everybody probably doesn't have to go away to college but I would suggest it. And I would also say “Go away.” You don't have to go across the country but I was far enough away, where it was a pain in the ass to get back home. So it would force me to—be on your own, figure stuff out for yourself. It also allowed me to get away from the rift raft from where I was.
I went to Franklin Learning Center High School and I went to Mansfield University. Its in upstate Pennsylvania. When I decided to go there, I didn't have this master plan in my head of “I’m going to go far away to school!” It just kind of happened that way actually. I was suppose to go to Kings College. Thinking I was ballin' and like, I was all that. Oh yeah "We're going to give you a scholarship. $10,00o to come here." I'm like, "Oh yeah, cool. Alright." By the way "It cost $40,000 to go here." Guess I won't be going there then. This guy from Mansfield called me up, "You want to come to Mansfield?" I'm like, "No. Not really." He said "Well, I'll pay your way over." I ended up being awarded a Governor's Scholarship and then a RA. I went to school fairly cheaply but going away was probably the best thing I did.
WELL READ . What was the first book or books that were of major influence to you?
My dad gave me two books. One was, From Superman to Man and edited by J. A. Rogers. From Superman to Man is the coolest book I’ve read, because it is the first book, that I really got into. It's about this porter, who works on a train car in the times of segregation. I think he starts in New York. Its him, and I think the guy is a senator or he’s a congress person. But they have this debate, going back and forth and the senator is this bigot, saying all types of crazy stuff. The porter is just dropping all kinds of knowledge. By the end of the book, he turns this senator’s mind around like, “I guess black people ain’t—hoodlums.” The other book is Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Its a “OK” book. But From Superman to Man is definitely the book right there. I try to gloat about my dad every chance I get. I say that he is my black history. Whenever I see him, thats how I connect to black history. He has by far, had more impact on my life than—anybody.
WELL SPOKEN . What public figure over the past century do you most respect and admire?
I’m leaning toward Bill Clinton. Thats only because I’ve seen him in action. Trying to be a student of history, this guy is thee best politician, in a generations' time. There is no denying his political acumen. He was impeached and left office with the highest approval ratings since Kennedy. If anyone can be half as good at whatever it is they do as good as he was as a politician—you would be ahead of the game.
WELL GROOMED . What was the first thing you were taught as a young man about your appearance?
I remember them calling me peezy head. We were younger, when going to get fast food was like a reward. I remember walking into KFC on 52nd Street and my pop goes, “Uh Oh! Na’eem got waves!” I was like, “Ah Yeah! I got waves.” I remember the brush being in my back pack and brushing my hair all day long. Whats funny is—my pop would have to dress up for work everyday but it was my mom, who made sure I was put together. She would dress me in bowties and all kinds of quirky stuff. My mom would dress me but my dad would be my example. But I do remember he had this massive amount of ties. I remember being little going like, “Man! You have all of these ties?” He’s goes, “Yeah. You need them for work.” I said, “Oh, I want to work!” He’s like, “Slow down. You don't want to do that now.” I was looking at my closet. It had to be a couple years ago. And I look and I say, “Damn. I think I got just as many ties as my dad now.” And its because I work!
WELL DRESSED . What persons, genre of music, or era have most influenced your personal style?
I’m going to say, the 60’s and a little bit of today, with a like modern kind of way about it. We talked about Malcom X before. That dude was sharp. He was all about—being sharp. It’s means so much but you don't have to be in a suit and a tie in order to be presentable to somebody or presentable to the world. As long as its neat. The coolest thing about being a reporter is that I am on the streets talking to people. I remember, I am in Brownsville, and I’m talking to these guys and what not and I had just talked to a barber. I’m outside setting up the camera that's out on the streets. The guys inside was like, “Yo! Who’s that?” The barber was like, “That’s a reporter for News 12” They were then like, “Damn Man! He looks just like us!” He was like, “Exactly.” The barber then comes out and I am like, “I can't put you on TV with your pants at your ankles.” He’s kind of like, “You’r e right.” Nobody’s saying you gotta have a suit and tie or anything like that—just be neat. If you want to add your flare or whatever it is you want to do with it but—be neat. I’m not always wearing a suit and tie but I want to make sure that its neat. Even though I used to straight be like this all the time. I think I only had one pair of sneakers. I didn't need to do this, in order to know this, even though what I was wearing is neat, the way people still treat a black dude with a suit and tie, as oppose to jeans and sneakers is still mind blowing. It is funny how people think. You got the black President. You got all kinds of shit going. It’s still crazy how people still kind of judge by what you are wearing, even if it is still neat. So that is even more of an incentive for you to not have your pants around your ankles. Because they are already going to think something of you if you are wearing jeans period. At least have them up around your waist.
Do you think that these facts have propelled black style over the past year?
I think guys in general who like to dress up, have not just been catered to as much for so long. Its been a lot easier now, to get involved in that kind of arena. Before, if I wanted to sell you a shirt, I had to find a manufacturer, which was difficult. I would have to have a store and all this different infrastructure. Now, I can relatively easily find someone who could do it on a smaller scale and I don't have to have a brick and mortar store. I can sell it online. It’s like a spectrum of suit and tie type of wear. You have preppy, you have people who want business attire and then you have the mixture of both. There are so many different avenues you can go with that, it’s been so difficult to try to get some of that stuff, that people saw there is a demand for it. Why not do it? Now, if someone sees me walking down the street and they say, “Oh. I like what he has on.” Its easier for them to actually go and try to get whatever it is they see on the streets now. And I think guys want to dress better and nicer. There is a market for guys who just want to look nice. I was talking to my dad about it. There is a market of people that I went to high school and college with who are getting more successful and they are willing to pay for something that is going to last. I think, that is something that America—wants to do. The stories that I’ve done on the Brookladelphian, people are interested in but I notice people really gravitate to those small shops that are doing something kind of quirky and unique. I think people are willing to pay a little bit extra to have a kind connection to whoever they are buying their stuff from.