One of the latest trends in the Black community is women going crazy over men wearing beards. We see this with numerous social media trends. Businesses that cater to men wearing beards are laughing all the way to the bank. More power to them. To me, however, these beards represent something bigger, and not in a necessarily positive way, for Black men. Now to be clear I know other groups of men are wearing beards but in many places, particularly in the Middle East, wearing beards is cultural thing going back centuries. In the Black community it’s only been a fad which may be something different next year. There is precedent for saying this.
When it comes to Black men’s hair and just overall style period I have seen several trends since the seventies. From my memory it started with having afros. Then in the Eighties Black men were wearing Jheri Curls. In later years Black men would have shaved heads, locs, and numerous other styles.
This following of trends even extended to clothing styles going from wearing baggy clothes to skin tight clothes. Some young Black men have even taken to wearing what I can only describe as tight chinos that come to their knees. Usually I keep up with the latest fashions to know what they are but on this one I want to be behind the times. As I said earlier this represents a bigger problem.
Black men in this country have never really had a steady consistent model of manhood. One reason is that Black men have never been the dominant males in Western culture. The reality is that as a result of not being in control of the social, economic, and politic environment, Black men have had to adapt or better yet respond to the dominant men in the culture. As a result Black men in Western culture have never been in a position to establish a consistent model of manhood which could be passed down for several generations. Let me provide a scenario.
Imagine if after the American Civil War the Black Community as a whole migrated into a large area and formed a nation. In this nation Black men would have control over the political, social, economic, and even spiritual life of the people in the nation. Men in power tend to be conservative and steady. Once men establish the methods of control they will be extremely hesitant to change something. One method is having a certain look and style to men in power. If the look for men in power is to wear dark suits and have shaved heads then that’s the look the men in power will have several generations down the road. A man’s look and style is part of his power. I’ll give you another real life example that anyone can investigate for themselves. Look at the Black men who run the Black Church.
Despite the rhetoric that the Black man hasn’t built anything the reality is that the Black Church itself refutes that assertion. My Great-Grandfather was an AME minister in the early part of the 20th century. He had what would be considered a conservative look. MOST Black male ministers have a certain look. That look is related to the power they have. These are men who control the social life of millions, the economic life as many ministers also manage businesses, and in some cases these ministers control security forces. These men control communities. If one pays attention to these men they don’t change their look and style every year according to trends. Men of power don’t follow trends. They set them.
Black men collectively have to decide on a look and style that promotes true manhood and power and stick to that. This model must be something that can be passed down several generations.