Nasir Kenneth Ferebee Lives Life Black and Excellent As Ever

In celebration of Black History Month, Complex line producer Nasir Kenneth Ferebee shares 28 Things that helped shape who he is and how he views the world.

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Despite numerous hurdles and obstacles, Black culture is at the epicenter of what’s now and what will be next. The influence of Black creatives is undeniable as our talents span across mediums, platforms, and continents. While we share the universal kinship that is Blackness, our voices, thoughts, and ideas are all different because each individual has had his or her own experiences that ultimately shaped who they are. It’s through this diversity that we continue to thrive and explore what it means to be Black and unlimited.  

This year, as part of Black History Month, we celebrate the full range of the Black experience with 28 Things About Me, a four-part editorial series where members of our own community share their personal stories around Blackness. Here, Complex Line Producer Nasir Kenneth Ferebee opens up about his journey to living his best life everyday. 

Be sure to check out Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4. 

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1. What is the best thing about being Black?

The best thing about being Black is the epicness in our core being. The richness of our melanin, the hue of our skin, and the diversity of our hair textures is stunningly beautiful.

2. How is your personal style a reflection of your Blackness?

I love this question because in the beginning of my career I was afraid of growing out my beard because I didn’t want to be perceived as “aggressive.” It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I had the courage to not worry about how I was perceived, and rock my beard confidently.

3. What does Black excellence mean to you and how do you personify it in your day-to-day life?

To me, Black excellence means being brave, brilliant, and beautiful. Our swag is impeccable and truly unmatched. Black people influence American culture, which thereby influences world culture. It takes courage to live in a world that systemically attempts to oppress you and your culture when you have been so instrumental in building America. The very fact that we get up every day and choose life is a testament to our excellence.

4. What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Black and unlimited?” How is your Blackness unlimited?

When I think of Black and unlimited, I think of the pursuit of decolonization and the renewing of the mind and spirit to know that who we are—exactly as we are—is more than enough.  

5. What’s one lesson about Blackness that your family or an elder passed on to you that you still carry with you today?

The biggest lesson that I learned from my family about my Blackness is that the hue of my skin is beautiful. I experienced a lot of colorism growing up, and colorism, which derived from racism, has impacted the Black community for centuries—long before I was even thought of. It took me decades to renew my mind, love myself, and recognize that the darkness of my skin is immaculate and rich. That has been an important part of my decolonization process.  

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6. Where were you raised and how did your hometown environment influence the person you are today?

I was born and raised in Philly. My city taught me toughness, bravery, loyalty, and tenacity. I’m incredibly proud of where I come from and the character it gave me.  

7. What foods most remind you of home? 

Cheesesteaks, hoagies, blue shell crabs, and water ice are all nostalgic and remind me of growing up in Philly. Those foods are ingrained in the fabric of Philly.

8. What are some of your family’s traditions? 

One of my favorite traditions is during the holidays when my family gathers to watch sitcoms from the ’90s, and they attempt to teach me to play spades [laughs].

9. What is a hobby or interest that you have that isn’t typically considered a “Black thing” but is 100% part of who you are? 

One of the sports that I love to watch is tennis. I fell in love with it because I saw the Williams Sisters play. I’m forever grateful to Venus and Serena for their representation and having Black people see themselves in a sport where we often felt unseen.

10. What does your family name represent for you? In what ways do you look to honor the legacy of your ancestors?

Last names for the Black people that are descendants of captured Africans can bring up complicated feelings. Our history has been stripped from us so I may never know my real last name. One day, I want to honor my ancestors by researching as far back as I can go to discover my origins in Africa.

11. What is the Blackest thing you own and what does it mean to you? 

The Blackest thing that I own is my “Black & Excellent As Ever” T-shirt. It’s a bright gold shirt with that text and it always makes me feel extra Black and extra proud. Representing my people and my culture is of the utmost importance to me and improving the narrative around my community is my mission.  

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12. Why do you feel celebrating Black History Month is important?

Black History Month is imperative because we deserve to be honored, celebrated, and affirmed. The sorrows of our ancestors contributed to the founding of America, and their sacrifices deserve to be acknowledged.

13. What is your favorite Black invention and why?

My favorite Black invention is the Walker Hair Care System. Madam CJ Walker was able to accomplish something extraordinary by becoming one of the first documented self-made millionaire women in history. Black women are often left out of the conversation regarding strides that were made for Black inventions and wealth-building, so acknowledging Madam CJ Walker is imperative.

14. What piece of Black history are you most inspired to have experienced in your lifetime?

Undoubtedly, seeing Barack Obama become the President of the United States was the biggest piece of Black history that I experienced.

15. Which prominent Black historical figure speaks to you most and why?

The Black historical figure who means the most to me is Bayard Rustin. He was one of the pivotal fighters in the civil rights movement, but he often kept a low profile because he was a gay man. I’ve always found his story heartbreaking for how he had to shrink parts of himself to be a part of the movement.

“Last names for Black people can bring up complicated feelings. Our history has been stripped from us so I may never know my real last name.”

16. Who would you say is your best example of Black love? How have they influenced you?

My favorite fictional example of Black love is Martin and Gina on the Martin show, as well as Beth and Randall Pearson on This Is Us. My favorite real life example of Black Love are the Obamas. Each one of those couples embody joy, respect, integrity, consistency, and patience which are all of the components that make up a healthy relationship. I’ve learned that love is only half the battle, and there are so many other factors beyond love that makes a partnership work.

17. What TV show from your childhood defined the Black experience for you at the time and how did that impact your view of the world?

The TV show that defined the Black experience for me during childhood is A Different World. That show changed my mindset about the education level that was possible for my life. It represented Black culture by showing fraternities, sororities, step teams, and a quality education. It inspired me to go to college and to pursue the career that I have today.    

18. How important are HBCUs to the Black experience?

HBCUs are extremely important to Black culture. They preserve our history and give young Black people a safe space to explore their education, art, sports, and social skills. I didn’t attend an HBCU and I sometimes wonder how it would have shaped my career for the better.  

19. What does Black culture mean to you and how do you represent it every day?

I represent Black culture everyday by simply waking up and choosing life. As Black people we are often bombarded by messages that we’re not enough. We experience this messaging in scenarios like the policing of Black women’s hair in the workplace or the dangers of a Black man walking in a hoodie. So for me to wake up, choose life, wear a shirt that states “Black & Excellent As Ever,” and share my Black boy joy with the world…that is revolutionary. 

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20. If you were making a playlist that would be the soundtrack of your life, what song would be your intro and why?

If I were making a playlist with the soundtrack of my life, the intro song would be “Dreams & Nightmares” by Meek Mill. We’re both from Philly and the song is a mixture of grit and glory, which is incredibly reminiscent of what it’s like growing up in my hometown.

21. What song would be your outro and why?

The outro song would be “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” It’s the last song on her debut album. It’s reflective of how far she has come in the world and I can relate to that.

22. What’s your favorite movie with a predominantly Black cast and why is it so special to you?

My favorite movie of all time is Boyz N The Hood. The story impacted me greatly. It showed an example of dedicated fatherhood that was beautiful and refreshing to see. It also sparked my love of Black Los Angeles culture and made me fascinated with neighborhoods like South Central and Leimert Park, which is where I live today.

23. Who is your favorite Black actor/actress and what about their on-screen work appeals most to you?

My favorite Black actress is Regina Hall. She has incredible range and subtlety in her choices. Her performances are always nuanced, especially in The Best Man Holiday and Support The Girls. My favorite Black actor is Jeffrey Wright. He morphs into every one of his roles and becomes nearly unrecognizable.

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24. Who is your favorite Black artist? What is it about his/her art that speaks to you?

My two favorite Black artists are Beyonce and Jay-Z. What they represent for the culture as genuine artists is unmatched. Their music, style, and business acumen have changed the pulse of Black culture for decades. 

25. Which modern day Black creative(s) do you admire most and why?

Tarell Alvin McCraney is brilliant and his writing is stellar. The way he moves effortlessly from film, theater, television, and being a professor at Yale is awesome.  

26. What piece of Black literature has had the biggest influence on you and why?

A Hungry Heart by Gordon Parks was an extremely pivotal book for me. Gordon lived an extraordinary life filled with art, travel, love, and family. He was the epitome of a renaissance man.

27. If you could travel to any Black nation in the world, where would you go and why?

One of my biggest travel dreams is to explore West Africa, specifically Ghana. All of my Ghanaian friends tell me that I don’t need a DNA test and that Ghana is definitely my home country so I look forward to going there one day.

28. What do you want your legacy to be?

Personally, I want to go down in history as a man of character, kindness, faith, and family. Professionally, I want to be known as a mogul who employed thousands of people that needed an opportunity to thrive in the entertainment business. 

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