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.


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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  • UgoBabeeee

    Yasiin Bey should not get it twisted…ghaniain men do not wear their kente or other wrappa material like that…..

    like another commenter spoke on it…theres a difference between those who culturally wear wrappa/skirt fashion and between those kow-towing to be “fashionable” and just wearing skirts…..i will give Bey a benefit of the doubt but sorry Epps looks terrible and I agree with Lord Jamarrs view point….in this era…in this western world- we know that skirts are women’s wear- so a man wearing a skirt is making a statement….loud and clear- does not matter that women wear pants and whatever other stupid argument one wants to make…a man wearing a skirt is taking on feminine wear…i wish those tring to force certain agendas would stop trying to blur lines on matters that are clear….soon people will try to convince you that white is actually pink…

  • Melissa

    This Lord Jamar guy should mind his own damn business. Whether we like it or not Omar is allowed to wear whatever the hell he wants. The clothes a man wears does not determine his masculinity. I wish the black community would finally understand this. Exaggerated bravado doesn’t equally masculine. Omar Epps is family man making an honest living. We never hear anything negative about him. He is a masculine man to me.

  • Christine

    I don’t care; when I see Yasin Bey from the neck down he looks like my grandma(never)with unshaven legs. With the arms on his waist-STOP IT!

  • Blasé

    i’m pretty sure Bey didn’t say he was doing what Ghanaian men do with Kente cloth just that the cloth is Ghanaian and he’s comfortable. And Epps said he was paying homage and i like that even though the connection is lost with that particular skirt.

    people are getting their ish in a twist over pieces of material.

    pants do not make a man.

    a skirt doesn’t make a woman.

  • Matzy

    Sure, black men can wear skirt! Why not, what does have the color of the skin to do what they can dress? Everybody can wear what the like, there are no written laws about it. Just wear it in a proper way and let other know how proud you are.