In the ’80s era of hip-hop, if a Black boy wanted a Thriller jacket, shell-toe Adidas or a rope chain, no gender-orientation red flags went up. Today’s male trends have crossed into new territories that are causing pause – skinny jeans, UGG boots and skirts.
Many believe this effeminizing of the Black male is a covert operation filtered through hip-hop and that Hollywood is attacking the Black male on the most rudimentary level— what he wears.
Here are eight Black men who have spoken out against the adopted looks of a few who they believe are changing how the whole is perceived.
Lord Jamar, member of Brand Nubian, a famed ’90s underground rap group, didn’t skirt around his distaste for Black men in skirts during an interview with VladTV, a hip-hop-centric YouTube channel.
Jamar said skirt-wearing is the current phase in a movement towards excessively “softening” the image of Black men in entertainment to the extreme of femininity. He says it began with Black men wearing earrings in the ’80s and ’90s, a trend that evolved to them draping themselves in diamonds, which, as the age-old aphorism proclaims, are a girl’s best friend. That trend transitioned to the skinny jeans craze and now to wearing skirts and dresses.
Jamar credits rap moguls like Jay Z and Kanye West for shepherding these trends — Jay Z led the culture in abandoning gold chains and adopting platinum and diamond jewelry, while Kanye introduced the black leather skirt.
Jamar says the creation of these trends and the successfully adoption by fans is fuel to the egos of Black male entertainers. He says the stars’ need to be validated by the reach of their influence is corrupting the culture.
“In order to preserve a culture there are certain guidelines and boundaries that have to be there,” he said. “I have no problems with pushing boundaries, but everything has its limits. How far do you go with this pushing of boundaries before you’ve turned it into something else?”