Fashion, Feminization, Or Who Gives A F*ck?

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One of my favorite pictures is from my 11th birthday party. I had a sleepover that year — 10 kids altogether — and the picture shows each of us in the living room, throwing awkward peace signs and making faces at the camera.

I’m in the middle of the frame, standing on the couch, and literally cheesing like…Chuck E Cheese. Since I’m standing, you can see my entire outfit: A white and gold MCM sweatshirt, a perfunctory pair of white Jordans, a Swatch watch…and some red and black spandex. And not baggy spandex either. These were f*cking yoga pants. If I’d had enough of a package then to be seen, you would have seen my entire package.

But, it wasn’t a big deal. If fact, I was the cool one. Some of you late-80s and 90s babies might not know this, but there was a phase from around 1989 to maybe 1991 where it was fashionable for guys to rock spandex. You’d see grown men walking down city streets with sweatshirts, gold chains, Adidas hats, and spandex pants. This was also a time when S-curls and tails were still cool. Those trends seem wack as the f*ck now, but I doubt anyone was saying that to these guys then.

Anyway, fashion changes almost as quickly as time does. By my senior year in high school, Timberlands, FUBU, Mecca sweatsuits, NBA/NFL jerseys, Hilfiger shirts, fatigues, and fisherman’s caps were what the cool kids rocked. And since I was a cool kid, that’s what I rocked. Now, I wouldn’t be caught dead in any of that. And even if I had an urge to, I wouldn’t be able to. The clothes I owned as an 185 pound high school senior were all bigger and baggier than the clothes I own as a 215 pound adult.

And, as I scan my closet now, I see a few pink and purple-ish polos, dress shirts, and ties. I also have a pair of salmon colored jeans. (I refuse to admit they’re pink.) These are items you probably would not have seen a straight Black man rock in 2000. It’s crazy to think about it now, but 15 years ago it was still taboo for men (Black men especially) to wear pink. Or purple. Or anything that had any hint of pink or purple in it. Now, you can walk down any city street and see legitimate, three-months-fresh-out thugs with purple sneakers and pink laces.

With all this in mind, I wonder if people like Lord Jamar are just naturally ignorant, or did they all just have the same accident that turned them into Guy Pierce from Memento? For those not familiar with Jamar, he’s a late 40s-something rapper who’s managed to snatch some recent relevance by deeming himself THE GUARDIAN VICELORD OF BLACK MALE HYPER-HETEROSEXUALITY AGAINST THE GAY-ASS SHIT AGENDA. Every time any prominent Black male does or says something Jamar deems “suspect,” you’ll find him on Vlad TV within 17 to 37 seconds saying something about it. (This is no hyperbole, btw. He’s the Usain Bolt of “defense against faggotry.” I actually think he lives in Vlad’s refrigerator.)

The latest Jamar rant is targeted at Omar Epps for wearing a leather skirt on The View. Marlon Wayans caught wind of this and jumped in to defend Epps, and this led to Wayans and THE GUARDIAN VICELORD trading insults on Twitter all day. 

Now, was it odd to see Q from Juice in one of Cindy Herron’s skirts? Yes, it was. Perhaps it’s a sign that Omar Epps really, really, really needs that Resurrection money to come through. Or maybe he lost a bet with Mike Tomlin. Who knows? But new fashion is always going to be f*cking odd. If it wasn’t f*cking odd, if it didn’t make people say “WTF is he wearing?” it wouldn’t be new fashion. This doesn’t mean that all fashion-related trends are related equal. I have long, passionate, and sweaty fantasies about giving thermonuclear wedgies to every teenager I see with 80% of his boxers showing. And I’m glad the spandex phase died before Alex Haley did. But that’s just the way things have been and will always be. Trends thought to be “feminine” or “masculine” now will switch roles in 20 years. And, 20 years after that, they’ll switch back.

And maybe that’s why cats like THE GUARDIAN VICELORD are so angry. They don’t give a damn about “feminization” or “the gay agenda” or whatever the hell else. They just really, really, really want Karl Kani to come back.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Reminder: For the next ten days, you can purchase your own I Love Bougie Black Girls t-shirt via Teespring for the insanely low prices of $11.50 for a men’s shirt, $13 for a women’s shirt (don’t ask why the women’s shirts are more expensive, because I have no answers)

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and $24.50 for a hoodie.

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The campaign ends Sunday, March 23. So, if you don’t buy one before then, you, um, won’t have one.

Anywho, they’re available now, so go and BUY!!! and be fly.

Ask A VSB: He Hates My Natural Hair!

Cute Lioness style.

(Damon’s latest at Madame Noire advises a woman whose boyfriend isn’t a fan of her new hair)

Hey Damon,

I recently decided to cut my hair off and go natural. I made the decision on a whim and I felt empowered doing it and I love my new TWA. But my boyfriend absolutely cannot stand it. This is who I am so I’m wondering whether or not our relationship stands a chance? What do you think?

-Newly Natural

Dear Newly Natural,

That’s a tricky question, for many reasons.

It’s possible that he doesn’t dislike your natural hair, just the particular natural hairstyle you have. Just as there are dozens of different things women can do with weave or relaxed hair, there are dozens of different “natural” hair styles — twists, afros, short dreads, long dreads, braids, etc.

I bring this up because it’s often implied that if a Black man doesn’t like a Black woman’s natural hair style, he’s a self-hating slave to the euro-standard of beauty. And while that may be true in some cases, usually it just comes down to a man getting used to his woman with a particular hairstyle, and not immediately feeling the change.

Also, although men are the ones who get criticized for being upset about a woman’s hair change, many women actually would feel the same way if their bf/husband made certain hair-related changes. For all the women attracted to and/or dating men with dreads, I’m sure you’d feel a certain way if you came home one day and he cut all of his hair off. Same with the women who attracted to and/or dating men with full beards. And, I personally know that my fiancee would have an issue if I went all Pusha T on her.

You also have to consider the fact that maybe it’s not about the hair. Perhaps he’s upset you made that decision without discussing it with him first. Not asking permission, mind you. But discussing it. Perhaps the hair issue is a symptom of a deeper communication problem.

That said, a situation like this can say a lot about your relationship’s health. Basically, if he’s truly into you, he’ll eventually get over it and get used to your new hair. Maybe he won’t ever love it, but it won’t be a deal breaker either. And, if the hair continues to be an issue, he’s not the one for you.

Sincerely,

Damon Young

(Read the rest at Madame Noire)

Three Quick Thoughts On Kanye, Kim, And Confrontation Contemplation

KIM KARDASHIAN and Kanye West Out Dinner

1. A couple is at a mall. She has a couple stores she wants to visit, and he’s hungry, so they separate for a half hour or so while he goes to the food court. While separated, the woman accidentally bumps into a man while she’s leaving a store. She apologizes, but he calls her a “f*cking bitch.” She confronts him after he says it. (“Wait. What the hell did you just say?”) But, he ignores her and keeps walking. Pissed, she leaves the store. The boyfriend, however, is still at the food court. Or maybe he walked to Macy’s. Wherever he is, he’s not there.

With that in mind, If you’re the woman in this situation, do you tell your man about what happened? If so, do you wait until he comes back to meet you? Or do you go find/text/call him immediately? Or do you do none of the above and just tell mall security?

I posed this scenario to my fiancee last night. Her reply was that she would tell me. But not if it meant I would do something about it. Which manages to make perfect sense and absolutely no sense at the same time.

It’s not her fault that it makes no sense. The scenario is pretty much a lose/lose. I understand her urge to tell me. I also understand that she wouldn’t want me confronting (and potentially fighting) random assholes. This is how people (and by “people” I mean “Black men”) get arrested. And worse.

But at the same time, as a man, you can’t not do anything when someone insults your woman like that. So, even if it’s not her intent, telling the man in that situation is basically forcing a confrontation.

My perspective makes just as little sense. You definitely don’t want your woman to keep something like that from you. But — and I think I speak for most men here — you don’t exactly want to have to confront and potentially fight someone either. Of course, you’ll do it if you have to. But it’s just not something you want to have to do. If anything, this could make you more upset at the asshole, because now you’re thinking “Man, why are you forcing me to f*cking confront your silly ass? I’m a f*cking grown up! I don’t want to do this. She doesn’t want me to do this. And, you definitely don’t want me to do this. But now, I have to do this. F*ck!”

With this in mind, after reading that Kanye West reportedly punched a man who called Kim Kardashian a “nigger lover,” I sympathize with him. Although he wasn’t necessarily right, I’m sympathetic to the position an act like that can put a man in. Most men — yes, Black men too — are not actively looking for fights. In fact, while you don’t cower from physical confrontation, part of making it to a certain age as a Black man is learning how to avoid situations where that’s a possibility. So, even if the “nigger lover” comment (more on that later) didn’t get him upset, when someone makes a comment like that, they’re effectively removing choice from the person the comment was directed towards. Yes, you can still choose to turn the other cheek, but he’s forcing your hand by making you have to consider unfavorable options. And, while that may not be enough to punch someone in the face, I understand.

2. I’ve never been called a “nigger” (at least not to my face), and I feel like I’m missing a valuable rite of Blackness by not experiencing that. Now, I don’t want it to happen — I’m happy to continue with my “nigger”-less life — but I do wonder what would happen if it did. I think I’d be more incredulous than anything (“They still make people who call people niggers? Damn! Who knew?“), but I can also imagine putting on an angry act out of principle. Maybe I wouldn’t start throwing shit at the walls, but there’d be some furniture moving. Well, maybe not some furniture. But my brow would be furrowed like a motherf*cker.

Seriously though, although the Glover skit I linked jokingly alluded to this, there really isn’t a wrong emotional reaction to being called a nigger. If it upsets you, that’s reasonable and understandable. If it doesn’t upset you, that’s also reasonable and understandable. I wouldn’t quite call it a racial Rorschach test, but I do think the reaction to something like that says a lot about how you personally view race and racism.

3. Kim Kardashian is known for dating Black men. She has a child by one, and is engaged to that man. Her popularity is also largely due to the fact that she has certain physical features commonly associated with women of color, Black women specifically.

But, as VSB contributor Maya Francis reiterated in a Facebook status last night, she is not a Black woman.

“As black women, many of us get a lecture and/or figure out on our own there’s some things we best keep to ourselves… because police. As in, I’m not calling my boyfriend/brother/father because someone called me names. You call in the army when you’re ready for war, otherwise, hold your head high and block it out. I’m not saying it’s fair (and this is one of those intersectionality moments), but black women (for right or wrong) don’t often call in for reinforcements as a means to protect the men they love.

So here lies Kimmy’s teachable moment about “not seeing race” if she decides to take it that way. I’m not saying that Kim wasn’t within her right to call him. I’m just saying a lot of us wouldn’t want to. I’m not even saying that Kanye’s behavior is extraordinary; I’m sure many a black man would WANT to do exactly what he did under this particular set of circumstances. However.

I’m not sure many of us would’ve made that call. I’m sure many of us would’ve walked in the facility and called security, and told our boyfriends/brothers/fathers before the day was over while explaining why we didn’t tell them when it happened. Is it fair? No. Do black men have the right to defend us? Absolutely. But police.”

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Why There Will Never Be A Black Male Olivia Pope

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You know, I do sympathize with those annoyed by how Scandal (and, more recently, Being Mary Jane) seems to dominate the conversation in Black digital spaces. I can imagine it being even more nerve-wracking for people who have no interest in either show. Thing is, the place they have in our cultural zeitgeist is less about the show itself than the fact that, while people may not know an Olivia Pope or a Mary Jane Paul (or aspire to be either), they represent a version (well, an extreme version) of an archetype very many Black people seem to relate to: the “successful woman who seems to have it all together, but doesn’t.” Ultimately, the meta-conversations about these shows allow us to talk about ourselves without talking about ourselves.

Yet, the conversation is incomplete. There is another archetype. An archetype that seems to cause much of the angst our other archetype struggles with. This one is found in the same cities, the same Twitter timelines, the same offices, the same lounges, and even (occasionally) the same beds as our Pope-ly protagonists, but they don’t receive nearly as much cinematic or conversational deconstruction. This lack of attention isn’t due to a lack of interest, though. People (and by “people” I mean “Black women”) are very interested in what is going on in the head of the “single and successful Black male” what drives/motivates him, why he makes the decisions he makes, where love and commitment fall on his personal needs hierarchy, etc. But no one actually wants to see it on screen.

I can imagine it now…

It would star someone relatively young and realistically attractive like Columbus Short or Rob Brown or Derek Luke. The show would be set in D.C. or Chicago. He’d be a lawyer or an engineer or something. He’d have a nice loft. And, while the show wouldn’t just be about his dating life, his dating life would be a big part of the show. He’d date. A lot. Some wouldn’t even be dates. Sometimes it would just be 11:32 pm “hey, do you want to come through?” texts. On Wednesday nights. Sometimes there wouldn’t even be a “hey, do you want to” attached to “come through.”

He’d always be very nice to women. Well, “nice” in that he didn’t talk bad about them, he remained (somewhat) chivalrous, he had many very close female friends, he’d always be affectionate and attentive to them, and he’d make a point to let everyone know how much he loves sistas with natural hair. But the niceness is only a surface niceness. He claims to feel bad when women he “dates” catch unrequited feelings for him, but he actually only feels bad when forced to confront their feelings. Worst of all, he knows what he’s doing. He’s too smart not to. He’s just selfish. Very selfish. He wants to settle down, eventually. When he meets the right person. At least that’s what he tries to tell himself. But he’d continue doing what he’s doing, with no real end in sight.

and no one would watch this show.

Actually, let me rephrase that. We’d watch. But everyone would hate it. Black men would hate it for misrepresenting us and/or airing our dirty laundry. Black women would hate it because, while it’s easy to mock the Stevie J’s and the Peter Gunz’s of the world (and the women who deal with them), a show featuring their urban and educated counterparts would hit too close to home. Black people (collectively) would hate it for reinforcing the hyper-hetero sexual stereotypes about Black men. White women would hate it because, if it were to mirror the life of a real actual single Black man in D.C. or Chicago, he’d date nothing but Black women, and they (White women) would be pissed for not being included. There’d be a thinkpiece a week at Jezebel devoted to it. White men would hate it because…well, I can’t think of any reasons why they would. They’d probably love it.

I’m joking (well, kinda), but I don’t think I’m that far from the truth. Pretty much every other oft-discussed piece of the Black population has been explored in some way on TV. Upper class families. Working class families. Single women. People in the hood. Young parents. Young couples. But none from the perspective of a single and successful urban Black male who dates Black women. (That last tidbit disqualifies Kevin Hill and House of Lies)

And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’d want to watch it either. Sure, I’d watch to be a part of the conversation. And to nitpick stuff the show didn’t get “right.” But I’d probably cringe the entire time. Or, more likely, I’d vacillate between cringing and jumping on Twitter, Facebook, VSB and everywhere else I write to defend all the indefensible shit the main character was doing.

Of course I’d be telling on myself if I did that. The show would be far from a mirror image of my life — it would be much too extreme for that — but I’d see enough of him in me and other guys I know to be compelled to comment. Of course I’d deny the connections, though. And I wouldn’t be wrong. I mean, it’s “just entertainment,” right?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

7 Ways To Make A Black Man Lose His Cool

There are like 10 of these in existence: Black men comfortable on ice skates.

There are like 10 of these in existence: Black men comfortable on ice skates.

Very few things on this planet are cooler than a Black man. A polar bears toe nails and the polar vortex come close, but no Cuban. At the end of the day, we (for the most part) tend to be cooler than the other side of the pillow.

[Sidenote: I realize that not all Black men are cool. In fact, I'm quite aware of a significant number of Black men who are the anti-Christ of cool, veritable Kim Jong-Uns of uncool, aggressively parading their tendency towards Urkel at the masses with reckless abandon. There is nothing wrong with this mind you, more fact than anything. Just saying that while Black cool is something that many men have, we weren't all born with it. Do remember though, some version of Urkel is now cool as long as you're a rapper. Strange times.]

Black Men Being Cool is one of the biggest positives and worst afflictions to Black women everywhere. While women love that the man on their arm commands presence and eyes of others who wish they had Bad Motherf*cker on their driver’s licenses (they do not), they ALSO wish we’d take off our cool sometimes. Andre 3000 even had a song called “Take Off Your Cool” that was largely ignored by men everywhere as we were too busy reciting “Roses” and trying to practice the alien prance from the “Prototype” video which might be a bit on the uncool side if it weren’t for the fact that 3 Stack was doing it. That’s one cool cat.

I seem to have lost my point.

Ah yes, Black men, our cool, and not being vulnerable. While I do love being cooler than most, I do recognize that there are moments when I can let my guard down, even if I suck at doing it. What I also realize is that there are places where my guard will be let down whether I like it or not. Luckily for you, you’re in luck.

That was cool of me to say. Deep too.

I’m going to tell you 7 ways to make a Black man lose his cool. Be clear, this is purely for purposes of advancing your relationship and not to torture the Black man in your life for your own entertainment purposes. The Black man cool is important. Treasure it and do not toy with it for it is not to be toyed with with Mary Jane’s emotions while you are being her. Don’t be Mary Jane. Seriously. Don’t do it.

Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do.

1. Take him ice skating

You want to see a Black man go from Lance in The Best Man to Bob from Accounting in 3 seconds flat? Watch him walk onto an ice skating rink. It’s over the MOMENT we hit the ice. You cannot be cool while your arms are flailing and our knocking out white children who have been skating since they were sperm.

2. Make him get into a swimming pool (not a jacuzzi) if he can’t swim

He will hold your arm and be so overly cautious you will forget that he probably has a gun under the seat of his car as his “viper” security system. But mostly, it’s really hard to be cool when you’re concerned about drowning.

3. Take him to a place with a bunch of little kids he’ll have to interact with

Let me tell you something: I love kids. They’re fun. I like playing with them (in the non-pedophilia way) and helping them stay entertained. Get on the floor and play legos? I’m game. Let’s do it. Point is, most of us forget to play it cool when there are kids around.

4. Mice

You can’t create this one usually, but if you’re bored, go buy a mouse and let that sucker loose in your house – assuming you are okay with a rodent being around. Black dudes and mice just don’t go together. And never will. Cool? Gone.

5. Get him a hard-to-get pair of Jordan’s

There’s this special moment between the time he opens a box and the time he realizes whats in the box which might be the most honest moment of his life. That debonair exterior gets melted away into a smile of epic proportions that harkens back to days of yore when his mother would make that real bacon – not that turkey backon sh*t…what kind of sick motherf*cker would make bacon out of a turkey anyway – and put it on his plate right out of the pan. Mmmmm…bacon.

6. Take him to see an emotional, relatable movie

Movies about Black men dying and slavery (don’t have to be the same movie; think Fruitvale Station and 12 Years A Slave), and you are likely to get those moments where my man realizes emotions he didn’t realize he had. You know, the same way we all felt when Ricky died in Boyz N The Hood.

Oh, just in case you didn’t know…Ricky died.

Actually, it’s the EXACT same reaction that women had when Stringer died in The Wire. And yes, Stringer died in The Wire. No spoiler alert. That n*gga got shot.

7. Get him a puppy or a kitten

This one is weird I know, but creep with me. Have you ever seen a boy with a dog? The bond folks have with their pets is real and sometimes disgusting if the pet kisses them on the mouth. But when the pet is a child cat or a child dog, and they roll up on him and want to cuddle…no way in South Hell that he’s going to say no. He’ll probably hold that little child cat or child dog like a baby so they’re comfortable. At which point his cool…well, it’s hard to be cool when you’ve got a kitten on your shoulder and you feel all special because the kitten chose your shoulder to lean on. We all need somebody to lean on. We be jammin. Extra points if its a Rottweiler puppy.

Those are 7 ways to make a Black man lose his cool and get a little vulnerable. Again, this is not to be used for evil. A Black man without his cool is a sitting duck, defenseless against the winds of danger that are out there trying to rob of us of our dignity. Unless he’s just not cool then he feels okay.

You’ve all seen it though. So what are other ways to make a Black man lose his cool? Be kind, rewind.

Talk to me. Petey.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. REBIRTH OF THE COOL aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3