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: 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 Importance of The Color Theory and Why Your Sneakers Are Your Foundation for Streetwear

Photo Courtesy: Jeff Dominguez (The Sting – University of Baltimore)

You do not have to be a total “sneakerhead” or a “sneaker connoisseur” to know which shoes are the best when it comes to streetwear. It really all depends on which colors you have to complement your shoes based on your knowledge of The Color Theory.

The Color Theory proves that every color (no matter what shade, intensity, and other combinations) have an immediate effect on each other. Marcie Cooperman, professor at Parsons University of Design in New York and color theory expert, explains the importance of the Color Wheel. “The color wheel helps people visualize colors, and understand what to do with all the opportunities,” Cooperman says.

Color Wheel (Photo Courtesy: HGTV)

So how do we know which colors complement each other? Color Harmonies.

They are basically a set of different color combinations calculated to make a specific color theme. There are six main types of color harmonies: analogous, monochromatic, complementary, split complementary, triadic, and tetradic. Click here to experiment with different colors.

Photo Courtesy: Jeff Dominguez (The Sting – University of Baltimore)

What does this have to do with sneakers?

Some sneakers already have their own color theme, in which they might feature up to four or five colors. Your safest bet is to probably wear neutral colors (such as black, white, beige/tan, and gray) for your top and bottoms. Or match the scheme from your shoes and work your way up.

Photo Courtesy: Jeff Dominguez (The Sting – University of Baltimore)

Don’t go overzealous on the brighter spectrum of your color theme, but layer dark and lighter shades of your “fit”. For example, if you have a pair of sneakers that contain a theme of yellow, blue, green, and white; my suggestion is to wear a matching yellow graphic tee, black or gray shorts, white socks, and those dazzling shoes.

Take a look at your sneaker collection and observe all of its colors, whether it be your favorite Nikes or your favorite pair of Converses. Small details like the sneaker’s laces, tongue, soles, and toebox are things to look out for.

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