A Black Man In A Blue Dress

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In my short blogging career I’ve come to realize that there are times when a subject matter often writes itself, as I find myself pretty much just having to navigate the proper words or context in a fashion that will hopefully inspire a healthy dialogue between both myself and the reader. With that being said, there is a flip side to this as well. There are occasions where you have a subject matter that won’t write itself, due to the fact it requires extensive research and also requires a certain level of sensitivity to be attached to it. So as I broach this particular subject matter, I wanted to be cognizant of how it may be perceived, but at the same time I wanted to be truthful in my walk and righteous in my stance. And for the record, words do kill just as much as people do, so it’s very important that we chose them with conscious wisdom.

As I begin my elocution on this subject, let me first preference by saying that I can care less about one’s sexual preference. I have a strong belief that the bedroom is a private matter and not a public matter. I am not one of those public affection displayers that kiss every five seconds and gaze into my wife’s eyes like hypnosis. In fact, I’m a pretty dialed down man for the most part. I enjoy holding hands in public, getting the door for my woman and dancing with her when the right song is playing. Back in the day this was called “courting”, something that these young and older cats could stand to learn a thing or two about (yes I’m old school to a fault). So, in moving forward with my procession of thought, I do recognize what the Bible has said regarding homosexuality etc; however it is believed that only Noah came close to perfection in God’s eyes with regards to righteousness. The rest of us are believed to have fallen short of his expectations and are believed to be sinners to some degree. If anyone claims to be removed completely from sin, then I truly hope that I am not standing next to you during a lightning barrage anytime soon. I will never claim to know what is completely right or wrong, as God is said to operate in the mysterious. I will quantify the idea of “sin” by saying that our personal, moral gauges seem to always let us know if we are in the wrong or right places; therefore, assess accordingly. Ok, now that my sensitivity training wheels have been established, lets discuss my topic: A Black Man in a Blue Dress.

I am a follower of trends, as I believe that trends are the truest indicators of what society’s actual pulse or temperament is. I have often turned to music, namely Hip Hop music, to get an understanding of the mental conscious of black youth. Hip Hop, over the past several decades, has been what I call “the town cryer” of our communities. If this seems far fetched, then let me theorize. In the 70’s (post Vietnam War), we would see the birth of Hip Hop in the form of block parties, as the struggling and misplaced youth of single parent households that saw black fathers die from war, become heroin addicted or incarcerated, searched for direction out of an impoverished community. The old adage is “when you don’t have, you pretend”. We would see this type of bravado being displayed in the song “Rapper’s Delight” (1979), as the ghetto dwelling M.C. boasted “after school, I take a dip in the pool, which is really on the wall…”. This song, laced in Disco rhythm, would introduce Hip Hop to the airwaves, therefore helping us to gain the “acceptance” into what was once denied to us, which is mainstream America. Now I’m not trying to give a history lesson on Hip Hop music, I just want to establish the conscious mentality and the type of music trend that derived from it. The 80’s saw songs like “White Lines” and “The Message”, which were the “now that I got your attention (Rapper’s Delight), let me tell you about our condition” songs. The “message” was that there’s “broken glass everywhere, people pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care. I can’t take the smell, I can’t take the noise, got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice”. So we went from wanting “acceptance”, which we got; then in turn we would send a “message” to tell the world what was happening in our neighborhood. Our next trend would be “opportunity” as people like Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin would get epiphanies and think along the lines of, if they “accepted” the “message” that was sent, then we now have an “opportunity” to create something that is marketable to the audience in the form of fusion, by combining rock music (MTV and Rock Music heavily ruled the early 80s) with hip hop lyricist, but making sure that the group or product was acceptable to both the streets (RUN-DMC resembled street drug dealers in their appearance) and metal heads alike (hence the guitar riffs and drum patterns in their music). The first Hip Hop song on MTV? RUN-DMC’s Rock Box. Ok, I feel like I’m getting away from my subject matter, so I’m going to transition my way into my subject matter in the form of my last mental consciousness that I like to refer to as “the flood gates”.

“The Flood Gates” should not be confused with reinvention. In order to bring forth new level of consciousness, much like resuscitation, you have to breathe new air into it. We saw elements of black consciousness with Rakim, KRS-1 and Public Enemy. We saw marketable transition with Will Smith and Queen Latifah. We also witnessed a rebirth of Hip Hop’s “message” in its migration to the West Coast with groups like NWA. Yes “the flood gates” were completely open. But much like any conventional great flood; someone, somewhere, is guaranteed to drown. We got “acceptance” and sent a “message” that there’s an “opportunity” available to all, and the “flood gates” opened up wide. Amongst those in the rapids of the flood were “the thinker”, “the marketer” and “the swindler”. Let us focus in on the latter.

Swindler is derived from the German term Schwindler, which means “promoter of wild schemes”. Hip Hop would see Sean Combs, take this to great heights as he would take what was once considered “underground” or “hardcore” hip hop artists like The Lox, Mase (originally known as Murder Mase) and the Notorious B.I.G (BIG meant Bullet In the Gut not his weight) and would turn them all, with Notorious being somewhat of the exception, into R&B divas, presenting them to the mainstream audience drenched in diamonds, dressed in sequin outfits, rapping about material possessions while advertising major labels of companies in their lyrics like Versace, Christal, Moschino and Chanel; just to name a few. None of the aforementioned companies were relevant to urban communities, nor would they reinvest in urban youth, however, this era of “balling and shot calling”, with shiny suits and designer saturated lyrics, took the once urban male who was still in his masculine form wearing loose fitting jeans, baggy sweaters and boots; and feminized him. Now let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with dressing nice in a tailored suit “that fits you” or wear cologne and look polished and groomed; that’s not who I’m addressing. I am addressing what is perceived as “the way to get where you are going” by resigning to the blueprint or precedent set by those who are empowered and influential. To suggest to young black men, who Sean Combs can relate to being that he grew up in a single parent household with his mother, that masculinity is borrowing from the wardrobe to that of a female is both dangerous and irresponsible. Black men have had absentee father issues to begin with and usually reside under their mother’s guidance due to whatever applicable scenario that fits the situation at hand. The last thing a young black man, who needs role models in order to aspires to become one himself, should ever have in his thought process is that acceptable behavior is abandoning your children and searching through your mother’s closet to borrow her clothes. I’m not talking about gay versus straight men, I’m addressing influences of acceptance. If you are a gay black man, fine, be a role model for those who are just like you. But if you are heterosexual black male, then why are you toeing the line or “gender bending” for the sake of financial gain? Why influence an impressionable mind with ideas that are not suited or conducive to the struggles that both black men and black households face on a daily basis? We have young black men walking around with their pants hanging off their behinds like its a fashion statement, not understanding that they are mimicking prison etiquette for a male who is looking to be intimate with another male inmate. Yes, “the swindler” will serve a lioness her own cubs and call it pâte, not understanding the genocidal regurgitation that is being committed. From Sean Combs, comes Kanye West (also from a single parent household as well) promoting jeans that barely fit and show off the male sexual reproduction organ while exposing the buttocks as well. The last time I checked, we called that advertisement; but who are you advertising to? And to make matters even more complex, Kanye is wearing supposed “kilts” that look more dress like in appearance. Outright alarming. This feminization of straight black men was never in the forefront of my thought process until an interview Dave Chapelle did with Oprah Winfrey. He recalled how when he was working on set with Martin Lawrence for the movie Blue Streak, that he was approached and somewhat harassed by a bevy of producers who were insistent on him donning a dress for a scene in the movie after he emphatically stated no several times. Chapelle would go on to elaborate to us on how he found it disturbing that black male comedians were always placed in dresses to conjure humor. It was then that I realized he was correct, as all the greats: Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, Tyler Perry, Ricky Smiley and Cedric The Entertainer, all have worn women’s attire in front of the camera. Although entertaining, it brings up the question as to why this has become an unremovable staple in the black comedic package and now a relevant page inside the Hip Hop handbook? What is the driving element fueling the engine behind the feminization of the black male? Is it initialized by corporations trying to tear down the black male image or is it a self inflicted black gun wound driven by lust and greed? Either way, the trend is headed down an extremely destructive path that is lending credence to the potential annihilation and extinction of the black male figure. We need, now more than ever, to pull up our pants, tuck in our shirts, groom our hair and put the dress down. It’s time to man up.

In the wake of D.J Mister Cee’s latest allegations of soliciting transvestites for the second time in a short span of time, it made me wonder aloud, why is he hiding who he is, especially given the active element of feminism that exists in the mainstream? If you are gay, then be gay, it’s your inalienable rights to be so. But if you are not gay, then ask yourself what is behind your promoting of feminism to straight black men? It’s one thing to be manicured, dressed to impress and be well groom, however toeing the gender line becomes actively gray in many, many ways. Free expression is one thing, but cameras make role models; like it or not. We owe responsibility to viewers, nothing more, nothing less. We cannot continue to show up to the dance sporting a trimmed beard while wearing a blue dress. Imitation is a form of flattery, however, imitating ignorance is just idiotic. Be aware of the trends you follow.

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