Here’s Why That School Principal Tells Young Black Men to Wear Ties

It’s true—attire counts for only so much. But in a judgmental world, young black men should have a clear understanding of just how much appearances count.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks about his My Brother’s Keeper initiative with students from Chicago’s Youth Guidance program Becoming a Man in the East Room at the White House Feb. 27, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks about his My Brother’s Keeper initiative with students from Chicago’s Youth Guidance program Becoming a Man in the East Room at the White House Feb. 27, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It’s unfair, but for young folks—black and brown men in particular—in a lot of professional and social contexts, their window for making impressions is narrow. They can be hardworking and smart, but then still quickly be sized up based on how firmly they shake hands, whether they taste their food first before adding salt to it, how confidently they make conversation in different surroundings and, yes, if they look like they’re comfortable wearing a tie.

Better to learn that in high school, I think, than after getting turned down for a job.

David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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