Black is black

On a more frivolous note… I bought a copy of Ebony magazine in Botswana, with a cover story on ‘The 25 coolest brothers of all time”. There were:

  • Barack Obama
  • Don Cheadle
  • Billy Dee Williams
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Quincy Jones
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Richard Roundtree
  • Denzel Washington
  • Sammy Davis Jr
  • Bob Marley
  • Ed Bradley*
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Adam Clayton Powell Jr*
  • Gordon Parks*
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Miles Davis
  • Walt Frazier*
  • Jay-Z
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Malcolm X
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Prince
  • Michael Jordan
  • Marvin Gaye

Leaving aside the three or four I’ve never heard of (*), I’d have left out Prince and Lenny Kravitz on the grounds they both try too hard (as the article says, cool should be effortless). Snoop Dogg is just a tad too sleazy and sexist, and I’m not sure that Tupac really deserves to be singled out – I’d probably have opted for Dr Dre, just on the basis of talent.

As for omissions – Sam Cooke without a question of doubt (see above pic if you really need persuading). Michael Johnson, the athlete – not just for his remarkable running style, which always looked like a cartoon character running off the edge of a cliff, but also because he’s a decent commentator these days too – and seems like a really nice guy. And while we’re on athletes, how about Tommie Smith and John Carlos? Maybe John Coltrane rather than Miles Davis? And Nelson Mandela – for the shirts, as well as everything else.

And can I make a special case for Billy Ocean? No, I thought not.

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