The Color Theory: Embrace Your Culture for Black History

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

As we all know, February is Black History Month. With racial injustice being brought to national attention within the past year, this time around feels a lot more important compared to recent years.

Said best by N’dea Yancey-Bragg of USA Today, “Black History Month recognizes the contributions African-Americans have made to this country throughout time. Specifically this year, on a national scale, we reflect on the continued struggle of racial injustice.”

For those interested, how did we get here?

Early Beginnings

The story of Black History Month dates back to 1915, almost fifty years after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. The founding fathers of this celebration, Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, were dedicated to promote accomplishments made by African-Americans. They wanted these newly profound leaders to embrace their culture, while being put on a higher pedestal for the whole world to see. 

Photo: Matheus Viana – Pexels

Before 1976, Black History Month was “Black History Week” – formerly known as National Negro History Week, residing between Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays (who were important advocates of black lives).

Rising philosophers and leaders in the civil rights movement (such as Malcolm X, John Lewis, James Meredith, and Martin Luther King Jr.) brought awareness of the Black identity. Thus, evolving “Negro History Week” into the modern Black History Month.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Today’s Impact

As said in my previous post, we started this whole pandemic with lots of uncertainty. But there seems to be a forecast of hope on the horizon. With heartbreaking events, such as the death of George Floyd and many other countless names, became eye-opening for our nation. This year’s celebration, the on-going focus is heavily reflective of last summer’s Black Lives Matter Movement.

Although some may argue, just this year alone, this particular “reflection” is overly emphasized. Somebody once told me recently, “Well, why are people finally recognizing our struggles now? Why are people finally bringing up this issue after so many decades of pain?”

I hear you, my friend. But recognizing this issue now is better than never. We were bound to face the issues of police brutality, racism in the workplace, ignorance, and every injustice the black community has dealt with throughout the history of this country.

Nichelle Smith of USA Today agrees, “The short answer: Forward. Through still-difficult times to the other, better side. There’s no going back to a “normal” that never worked well for Black people anyway.” 

Everyone has been through a lot this past year. What’s keeping us alive is for us to keep progressing and pushing forward as individuals.

Current Sting President and Editor-at-Large, Leonard Robinson, also agrees to my philosophical advice as said in his last post: “The big thing that happened? Humanity got better at simply…being alive”. To put it in perspective, every day (hopefully), we are becoming more tolerant to our neighbors.

Photo: Scott Olson – Getty Images (via NPR)

The Colors: Symbolize Through Wear

With this celebration going on now, and still in a worldwide pandemic, the most common way to express your heritage and “blackness” is to dress up for the culture.

Dressing in a way can be considered as a reflection of one’s cultural values and morals. Think of it symbolically: there’s a story or meaning behind certain colors and patterns.

The colors red, black, and green have always been associated with African-descent and used as the colorway for Black History Month – inspired from the iconic, Pan-American Flag (or known as the Black Liberation Flag). Said by NPR editor, Leah Donnella: “Red stood for blood — both the blood shed by Africans who died in their fight for liberation, and the shared blood of the African people. Black represented, well, black people. And green was a symbol of growth and the natural fertility of Africa.”

I’m not saying you should wear red, black, and/or green to support this national celebration – but only my suggestion. You could go even further into embracing your culture by wearing traditional wear, such as head wraps and fine prints.


Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting and writes The Color Theory, an influential fashion column.

The Color Theory: Symbol of Justice

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Like I said before in a previous post, we are closing in on a pretty shitty year. Although 2020 has been a wild ride for many of us, I know I am not the only one that is super happy that Trump is finally being kicked out of the office.

With our new president coming into the horizon, there are still social issues we face in a very divided country. In this week’s post, for me to talk about politics after this year’s election is only “fitting” (pun intended).

We started this year with uncertainty, but many people can say that we are ending it with a shining glimmer of hope. But with Biden becoming President, we have to realize that this is just the beginning, this country still has a lot of work to do.

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez

One of the biggest obstacles that President Biden will face in his first day in office is racial inequality. Over numerous decades, we have seen tragedies and murders of innocent black lives. 2020 has shined light upon from the events of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other countless names from this year alone. 

More names memorialized here (via CBS News)

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

I digress, but let’s not forget that The Color Theory is a fashion column. Like I said in the past, hoodie season is now in full effect. Hoodies have transcended fashion in so many ways, but also social-political movements as well.

Consider this: in the mid 70s, for some, hoodies were seen as a sign of rebellion and crime. Denis Wilson of Rolling Stone says “from its association with punk and hip-hop to skater culture, the hoodie has a history of being adopted by youth-driven communities once relegated to the fringes, imbuing it with an iconoclastic, sometimes criminal, subtext. Mainstream fashion may embrace it as a practical article of clothing, but it never lost that edge”.

Things like this creates racial biases. For people like George Zimmerman, creates a divide and fuels more to the fire. This negative connotation of hoodies meant that people like Zimmerman think innocent kids like Trayvon were “up to no good” just because they had their hood up – and to call it self-defense is absolutely shameful.

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Nowadays, some can argue that the hoodie can represent a symbol of defiance and progression after the tragedy of Trayvon Martin back in 2012. If you remember the protests at the time, a great number of Americans donned the hoodie. Marching and chanting “We are all Trayvon Martin”. Hundreds of supporters walked in a Million Hoodie March in New York – and then other gatherings in other cities (Linton Weeks via NPR).

So hoodies do not necessarily have to be a symbol of anything – as this particular piece of clothing should be representing your aesthetic and nature. Let’s be realistic, everyone in America owns at least one hoodie. Troy Patterson from The New York Times Magazine puts it best: “A black guy in a hoodie is just another of the many millions of men and boys dressed in the practical gear of an easygoing era. Or he should be”.

All I am really saying is, racism has been passed down from hundreds of generations. It’s up to all of us today to start a different mindset for many generations to come. Everyone owns a hoodie, everyone poops, everyone dies, so let’s learn how to love and forgive each other.

Photo Credit: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

What Dave Chappelle said in his most recent appearance on Saturday Night Live, predicates to everything I am telling you now. Watch it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from his monologue:

“All the white people who feel that anguish, that pain, that man, they think nobody cares – Maybe they don’t. But let me tell you something, I know how that feels. I promise you, I know how that feels”

“You’re a police officer. Every time you put on a uniform, you feel like you’ve got a target on your back. You’re appalled by the ingratitude that people have when you would risk your life to save them – Oh man, believe me. Believe me, I know how that feels. Everyone knows how that feels.”

“I don’t hate anybody, but I hate that feeling. That’s what I fight through, I suggest that’s what you fight through”

Although we may have another old white man back in office again, let’s not be mistaken for this: we have to hold him accountable just like any other President before him. We are in an era of progression – an era where we want to love each other and live off the simplicities of life.

In his transition plans, via Build Back Better, it states: “President-elect Joe Biden is working to strengthen America’s commitment to justice, and reform our criminal justice system. As the former District Attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has spent her entire career fighting for justice for the people, and equal justice under law”

The Biden-Harris administration will work with Congress to pass police reform legislation including:

  • A nationwide ban on chokeholds.
  • Stopping the transfer of weapons of war to police forces.
  • Improving oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard.
  • Creating a national police oversight commission.

Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting and writes The Color Theory, a bi-weekly fashion column.

The Color Theory: Finding Your Style

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

I don’t know about you, but fall has always been my favorite season of the year. This is the time to experiment with different arrangements – ones that are already in your closet combined with ones that you recently just “copped” for the chilly season.

Our bodies change over time every year, as well as that favorite sweatshirt that keeps shrinking in the wash – no, just me?

Anyways, that’s why we shop for new products at every tilt of the Earth’s axis. Seasons change and so do we. Like I previously said in my last post, a change in season can possibly mean a change in your wardrobe.

BUT it does not entirely have to be that way. Of course, you can always stick with the same style that you identity yourself with.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

“But what if I don’t know my style? Or what if I don’t associate myself with an identity?”

Well first off, you actually do have a style! What’s great about streetwear, is that there are no limitations at all! Streetwear is a combination of styles from numerous subcultures, according to Bobby Hundreds of Complex.

Take a look at your closet and notice what all of them have in common. For example, see the similarities that you have for your upper body wear. Compare all your graphic tees, gym/workout shirts, button-ups, hats, jerseys, blouses, dresses, tank tops, or whatever you may have.

Do they all have the same color scheme? Do they all have similar patterns? Are there any cultural ties with them? How do all of these shirts make you feel?

If you are still having trouble figuring that out, find pictures of yourself from the past and start comparing your outfits off of that.

I would say, think deeply about how your clothes represent you and how they make you feel. I know this is cliché, but it always stays true to any advice, do not worry about what other people think about you. Let’s face it, we all live in a world (or country, should I say) where people do not care about how you feel inside. As I saw on Twitter from the other day, “be your own cheerleader”. In most basic terms, be confident in yourself!

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Finding your style does not happen overnight. Tan France, co-host of Netflix’s Queer Eye and guest instructor for Masterclass, says “I’ve helped thousands of people to find their personal style and find a look that makes them feel good about themselves. The most important step I tell my clients is that they must make an effort”.

To add onto that, I believe having the patience with yourself and getting out of your comfort zone is important as well. It takes time and a little inspiration to kickstart a new wardrobe.

Remember, your body is your canvas. You are taking all this time to invest in your aesthetic and showcasing on how you present yourself.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Also, don’t be so “pressed” about limiting yourself to one specific identity.

If you like the outfit that you got on, if it reminds you of something (ex: say you wear overalls with a striped shirt – hence, the 90s and The Fresh Prince), wear it out!

Everyone should always feel comfortable and confident on whatever they are wearing. If you have any doubts about that particular outfit, maybe it’s not the right time to wear it. But also, do not trash the outfit. Save it for later!

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

To sum all of this up, I am proposing “The Triple C Rule” as a method to find your aesthetic – Comfort Zone, Consistency, and Confidence.

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Take time to shop around and try new stuff on. Do a little bit of research and get some inspiration from your family members, friends, an influencer, or whoever it may be.
  • Be consistent with your closet. Find shirts, jackets, shoes that represents you the best.
  • Be confident!

Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting and writes The Color Theory, a bi-weekly fashion column.

The Color Theory: Denim is Not Going Anywhere

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

For some, a change in season can possibly mean a change in your wardrobe. Coming into this newly fresh fall season, you might switch up your style and experiment with different combinations – maybe wearing more baggy clothings, rather than ones that feel tight around your jungulars. Or just tweaking it up a little bit that best fits your aesthetic – maybe wearing more colorful shirts, rather than wearing all black everything (I promise you, I am not judging!).

But the one thing that never goes out of style, no matter what day of the year it is: Denim.

We all have it, whether it be your favorite jeans or that one timeless jean jacket that came from the 90s. Denim has always been the frontier of the fashion industry, according to fashion historian Emma McClendon.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Over the years, denim has transcended the fashion industry. In her book, Denim: Fashion’s Frontier, McClendon explains that denim has transformed from a “working class fabric” to everyday dress and high fashion since it’s creation by Levi’s in 1873.  Its image has shifted throughout history as a symbol of the American workforce, youth, rebellion, sexuality, social-political movements, and the ephemeral quality of dressing “cool and edgy.”

Notably, denim is currently the world’s leading fabric, and has been for the better part of the last century. For most people, denim clothes (whether it be jeans, jackets, or shirts) is always a great choice for any wardrobe.

According to Statista, the global market for denim accounted for almost $90 billion US dollars in 2019 alone. This year, the current jean value is up to over $110 billion US dollars so far; and it is projected to increase to $127 billion by 2023. To say the least, denim is not going anywhere anytime soon.

You can look at other statistics of the denim industry here.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

So you are probably wondering, “Ok Jeff, I get it. Denim is in style. But how can I incorporate it into my outfits?” Well, you basically have two options: wear something that complements your denim or wear double denim.

Lets say your favorite jean jacket is the piece that you want to stand out. Take a look at its color/shade – hence the name of this column, The Color Theory. Lighter shades of the denim blue complement lighter colors, such as white, yellow, and rose/pink. Similarly, darker shades complement dark shades of the color spectrum, such as black, grey, and red.

What about wearing double denim?

That is totally fine, but be cautious. Wearing denim on denim can make it look like you are wearing a uniform, or maybe a jumpsuit (unless that is your approach, that is fine too!). Double denim isn’t really all that bad though, just keep in mind you can still look good as long as the two pieces of denim are matching shades.

Photo: Jeff Dominguez – The Sting

Since fall is here, traditionally some people start to look for outfits for the colder weather. It seems like almost every year, we buy a new pair of jeans because naturally our bodies change over a period of time. Plus, having those same jeans lose its color and size from washing it over time is also a huge factor. But I would say though, probably the hardest part about finding the perfect jeans is having your ass fit in them – and for the guys like myself, having your jungulars breathe too (those damn, skinny jeans!).

Jeff Dominguez is the Communications Director for The Sting and writes The Color Theory, a bi-weekly fashion column.