Category Archives: Black Men

1001 Black Men–#603


On Saturday morning, my fabulous partner and I headed out to Livermore Premium Outlets with nothing but our wallets. We emerged a couple hours later with six pairs of shoes. Oddly enough, I wasn’t really planning to buy any shoes at all. I am, however, happy to say that those six pairs of shoes cost us less than we would have paid for three pairs at the normal retail price.

I haven’t made many mall trips in the last few years, and I haven’t purchased any new shoes since 2011. On Saturday, though, we immersed ourselves in the entire all-American shopping mall experience. We strolled, we browsed, and we even had lunch in the food court. There was a Japanese food stand that was handing out delicious samples of stir-fried chicken, and we chose to eat there.

The man in this drawing was in line right behind me at the food court. This was an interesting coincidence, given that I could count the number of Black people I saw at this mall on my fingers and toes. This is not to say that the crowd was not diverse. That’s one of the interesting things about the San Francisco Bay Area. There are so many different ethnicities present, that even in the absence of any one group, non-white people still might outnumber their white counterparts by a large margin. That seemed to be the case at the Livermore Premium Shops.

I chose to include this guy in the series because he was one of only two Black men I saw during my entire shopping trip (and I only caught a brief glimpse of the other man, out of the corner of my eye). The man in this drawing was also an interesting subject because his mustache and beard, the hair on his head, his eyes, and his skin were all different shades of the same color brown, kind of the way that a Crayola crayon and the paper wrapped around the crayon are basically the same shade, but rendered in different textures and different levels of saturation. It would not be entirely inaccurate to say that if this man was object, he would probably be a crayon.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#600


Today marks the 600th entry in my series of 1001 drawings of Black Men. Of course, the images in this series depict many more than 600 Black men, and some of my drawings include two, three or even as many as 30 different figures. Some of my subjects are drawn from life, some from memory, and less than a handful from photographs that I took on my phone.

Last Saturday night I found myself at the New Parish in downtown Oakland. The event was the WERQ! Vogue Ball. After the excitement of spending the day at the San Francisco Zine Fest, I was a bit too tired to enjoy such a high energy atmosphere, and I found a quiet corner in which to sit and do some people watching. This brother reminded me a little of a young George Clinton, if George Clinton had worn dreadlocks back in the day. That and the fact that he was wearing sunglasses indoors and at night made a deep enough impression on me that I immediately brought him to mind when I sat down to my sketchbook the next morning.

Ajuan Mance



1001 Black Men–#595


Lunch with my parents at Max’s Opera House Cafe was a lively affair. We were seated in the front section, close enough to see everyone who entered, but far enough away from the door to avoid getting a blast of chilly air with each new patron. We briefly made a game out of looking at the outfits of the entering customers and trying to figure out whether they were from the East Coast or California. My opinion of the man in this drawing? East Coast all the way. With his single-breasted khaki suit and olive green tie, he was dressed perfectly for summer in one of the original 13 colonies.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#593


Outside Farmer Joe’s Market, Oakland, CA.


There is something kind of amazing about a cool soul brother. Now, if you’ve spent any amount of time looking at the drawings on this website, you probably know that I also have much love for the not-so-cool brothers. In fact, to say that I have an affinity for Afro-geeks and Black nerds would be a understatement.

That said, the sight of a cool brother is affirming in it’s own distinct way. It’s a reminder of our power and resilience as Black people. The cool brother is the embodiment of one of our greatest survival skills, the ability to create our own sense of power and beauty out of and in opposition to the limited resources we have been given.

Consider these words from Black feminist scholar bell hooks:

Once upon a time black male “cool” was defined by the ways in which black men confronted hardships of life without allowing their spirits to be ravaged. They took the pain of it and used it alchemically to turn the pain into gold. That burning process required high heat. Black male cool was defined by the ability to withstand the heat and remain centered. It was defined by black male willingness to confront reality, to face the truth, and bear it not by adopting a false pose if cool while feeding on fantasy; not by black male denial or by assuming a “poor me” victim identity. It was defined by individual black males daring to self-define rather than be defined by others.

bell hooks inWe Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men–#591


Here’s another gentleman who is the likely parent, grandparent, friend, spouse, or guardian of new or returning Mills undergrad. I’m no Sherlock homes, but I’m guessing that he’s not a student, based on the fact that most of our graduate students are a bit younger than he seemed to be. I’m guessing he is somehow attached to an undergrad (and not a grad student) because those grad students who live on campus tend to move in on their own, without a dad, uncle, or grandpa in tow.

Ajuan Mance