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OmarEppsSkirtBlack masculinity is fraught with tightly constricted rules that define what a “real Black man” should look and act like. While White men are often given room to be “metrosexuals,” toeing the line between overtly masculine and conventionally feminine looks, Black man are often held to stricter, more hyper-masculine standards.

Last week, a beef ensued after Omar Epps appeared on The View rocking a short leather skirt over black pants, a white blazer, and black sneakers. The look showed off the actor’s toned physique, but apparently it wasn’t manly enough for many who accused him of selling out and buying into the “emasculation” of Black men.

Brand Nubian emcee Lord Jamar tweeted that Epps had joined the “skirt gang” and said the actor, who is married, was “suppose [sic] to know better” than wearing a skirt because he is an “old head.”  Lord Jamar then argued that wearing skirts was an affront to Black masculinity, saying, “ We gotta let these SELL OUTS know we not supporting them when they cross enemy lines.”

Epps finally responded to the kerfuffle on Twitter, writing, “The uninformed couldn’t understand my contemporary ode to my Zulu warrior roots. The Maasai, Fante, etc. It’s tribal, study our history.”

The Resurrection star took to Instagram to give more information about his “ode”:

“It’s sad that we as African-Americans are so disconnected from our true roots, our heritage & our lineage that most can’t see the forest for the trees. For me, it’s about celebrating and honoring our ancestral history thru actions. I walk on the shoulders of the ancients. And we’ve become so disconnected from our African roots that we give credit to others (who came long after) for “creating” that of which was.”

Lord Jamar brushed off Epps’ explanation, arguing that skirts may have been en vogue thousands of years ago, but they are no longer “culturally appropriate” today.

 

 

 

But is he right?

Although men in skirts are not a common occurrence in the U.S., in other parts of the world wearing flowing garbs that appear similar to skirts and dresses are quite common. Kilts are still worn in Scotland; Muslim men around the world regularly wear thawbs (ankle-length garments) over pants; and in several parts of Africa, men often wear skirt-like wraps.

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Just recently, rapper Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) was photographed in a Kente cloth wrap for a Rolling Stone interview about his recent move to South Africa, explaining, “It’s a wrap from Ghana, [it’s] what I’m comfortable in at home.”

So what’s the deal?

Does the (very minimal) rise in Black men wear skirts or wrap mean some vague, hazy force is on a campaign to “emasculate” Black men? Or are folks simply overreacting? Weigh-in!

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