by Maria Lloyd
Recently, the group of dancing gay black men, The Prancing Elites, were given a television deal to show their stuff to the world. On the Fox show “Empire,” one of the sons of the main character happens to be gay.
This begs the question of whether or not there is an agenda by media to show black men are weak, feminine and woman-like as an effort to divert opportunities away from black men who are more masculine and heterosexual.
Fans of the Orijin Culture Facebook fan page had a critical debate about an image of a black male model wearing a colorful dress and blazer on the runway. Many believe the image is symbolic of a hidden agenda of some sort to make black men effeminate. The discussion ran rampant a few years ago when comedian Dave Chappelle went on Oprah Winfrey’s show and discussed how he was pressured to wear a dress for a movie he was doing with Martin Lawrence.
“…When I see they put every black man in the movies in a dress at some point in their career. I be connected the dots like ‘Wow this brother wearing a dress.’ This happened to me. I’m doing a movie with Martin. The movie’s doing good. So I walk in the trailer I’m like ‘Man this must be the wrong trailer ’cause there’s a dress in here.,” Dave explained.
He then discussed the conversation between he and a writer for the film, in which the writer tells him he would dress as a female hooker during one of the scenes. Dave refused to wear the dress and found it peculiar that the scene wasn’t discussed beforehand — that’s when the writer summoned the producer and director to speak with Dave in an attempt to encourage him to wear the dress. “And then I started thinking about it,” he said. “All the comics I’d seen — you know strong brothers. Why are they putting us in these dresses?” When the crew realized Dave would not put on the dress, they created a different scene. Dave was shocked by the rapid turnaround in which the writers, producers, and director were able to come up with a completely different scene after he refused to wear the dress. “They come back 10 minutes later with a whole new scene. And I’m like ‘D*mn, how did you write the scene so fast?‘” He continued: “You know it’s like, you gotta take a stand.”
The image acquired from the Orijin Culture Facebook fan page acquired 200 shares, 80 “likes,” and more than 300 comments. While the majority of the commenters appeared turned off by the fashion itself, the other commenters debated about whether or not the image was exuding a hidden agenda to make black men effeminate.
Andrew Davis commented with a simple quote by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing: “The system of racism wants to turn Black men into women…because then they will not have an opponent and not have to fear white genetic annihilation because the man has become a woman…” Kiña del Mar’s comment disagrees with Davis’ quote: “There is nothing wrong with this. Manhood and sexuality are not determined by clothing. And let’s not forget how outraged some people were when women first started wearing pants. People thought they looked masculine/un-lady-like. Now, it’s the norm. Fashion norms change with the times and it’s a little silly to get so worked up about what type of cloth someone chooses to wear.”
On the plantation, there was a process called “Buck Breaking,” that was used to strip black men out of their masculinity. Whenever a black male stood up against the master, the plantation owners would beat him in front of his son and emasculate him entirely. They would also make him wear women’s clothing and possibly rape him in front of his sons, so that everyone on the plantation would lose respect for him. The message of Buck Breaking was very simple: If you are a strong black man, you will suffer. As a result, the sons of the “broken buck” would emasculate themselves voluntarily so as not to run into the wrath of the master.
Maybe what we’re seeing in media isn’t too far off from long-held traditions of white’s treatment toward blacks.