Shit sure ain’t sweet, so why they keep dressing us up like it is?
Do I believe in the emasculation of Black men? I most certainly do.
Do I believe in hyper-masculinity too? Most definitely.
More importantly though, I feel like whatever traits that the popular media has perpetuated as whatever the opposite of hyper-masculinity is, is exactly what is beginning to emasculate us.
Why is it that the faces of this “We men and we strong, but we got feelings too,” movement, all look like they’ve been eating rice paper sandwiches three times a day?
Look at this picture of DMX. Obliterating the confines of gender identity, dressed like a whole ass dominatrix. He looks like he’s patiently waiting for Trent Reznor to clear a sample for Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. DMX been acclaimed as one of the most sensitive wordsmiths that Hip-Hop has seen. He also spent roughly two hours keeping Jet Li in check on “Cradle 2 the Grave”, a task that takes a significant amount of personal and social brawn to excel at.
And why are we acting like Thug Passion was never a thing? I just now recently came to realize that 2Pac’s friend on “Never Had a Friend Like Me” wasn’t a girlfriend…it was about a plain ol’ friend, that was a boy! Like someone you stayed in on a rainy day, playing NCAA Football 06 with for hours. For the longest time I swore that Pac was penning a love letter to a devoted romantic interest, in actuality it was a heartfelt ballad showing the importance of genuine male-to-male friendship.
Times like this is when I wish The Outlawz would’ve never let the honorable brother get inside that motherfucking bathtub.
Every time I log onto Twitter, I see some oiled up brother with high cheekbones and a striped shirt modeling for some European fashion designer, making the same face Prince made when Charlie Murphy’s crew clowned him and The Revolution for playing basketball in some blouses. Go on Apple Music right now, he’s there, staring right into your eyes trying to get you to stream his latest “R&B” project. To tell you the truth I’m tired of seeing all of this and I’m tired of seeing it being championed.
I just find that the depictions that we’ve been receiving as of late force a certain visual narrative where being sensitive, or rather, experiencing entry-level human emotions, equates to young Black men being forced into this Paper Magazine-fostered, pastel colored, “When I sneeze it sounds like Minnie Ripperton harmonizing,” vacuum. Every Black man I’ve see that’s been categorized under this “black boy joy” label seems to have tapped into this non-threatening, socially acceptable aesthetic. We can smile hard as shit and wear tan overalls and eat all the vegetables that we want, I mean shit, we deserve to. But in the scope of what America has been for us since the very first day I woke up black at least, we haven’t earned the right to let our guard down completely. The powers that be have done their job so well at obfuscating our identity as Black men that we’ve seem to forgotten that the “Milly” in “Milly Rock” is short for militant.
Even our women are subject to this media-driven perpetuation of what a “care free black woman” looks like. Not all of them have natural hair and clear skin and collect them shiny rocks y’all be leaving on your window sills. A lot of the true “care free” ones have been ignored, because we spent too much time in the past shitting on them for showing up to school in Chinese slippers only to retroactively dickride their style choice when Rihanna would do it a decade later.
With all this being said, yes, let me repeat, I do believe that hyper-masculinity exists within the Black male commune. But it’s a social derivative of insecurities and deficiencies that are not being addressed or obliterated with hashtags, shea butter and GQ spreads. We need to seek to empower and fortify our collective identities away from these contrived aesthetics and most importantly these outlets that use us as props to prove how socially conscious they are while simultaneously rocking us to sleep with the comfortability that occurs after the fact. The media dictates enough about our culture already, and it’s beginning to pacify us on fronts that we often fail to consider.
Redefining gender roles and identities is not solely showcased or dependent on portraying in contrast, the polar opposite of what each entails, it’s about discerning the complexities of identity beyond forced imagery and hashtags.
If I’m sitting on my front porch with a .357 magnum, five Rottweilers and a box of Godiva chocolate, listening to Labi Siffre, I demand to be acknowledged as a multi-dimensional Black man, that cried when J-5 died in Blankman and wasn’t really feeling when they put Young Thug in that dress on the cover of “Jeffery.” The complexities of the Black man’s psychological make-up and our social sense of selves that derive from it need not be compromised in favor as what’s trendy or aesthetically accepted by media entities who have a hard enough time already understanding us as Black people entirely.
Do not call me, or any of my brothers “care free black boys,” because every day, when we wake up black it seems as if we've got something new that we should be caring about.