Friday, October 23, 2009

Tyler Perry x Morehouse x Real Black Men

TwitThis


Speaking to my homie Jonzey the other night, I was trying to convince
her to go see Good Hair, she refused.
I said you must go to see
Sharpton's clear disdain for and anger towards Black
women
and our budgetary practices around our hair.

She mentioned
that she wasn't going for precisely that reason. That she is
not interested
in seeing something where Black women get trashed.
I was silent because I have been there, in fact I live there.

She is a filmmaker and she said that she is tired of other filmmakers projecting
their issues onto
Black people and Black women, Tyler Perry specifically.
Here is the line
that got me,

"If Tyler Perry is more comfortable walking around wearing dresses then
he should make a movie about THAT, instead of projecting his shit onto us."
She believes that White filmmakers project their issues on to Black people
and Black male filmmakers project their issues onto Black women.

I had one of those blog synergy moments and asked her, well have you
seen
what has happened at Moreouse this week with regard to their dress
code?

Morehouse announced a dress code this week that was pretty much
no do rags, no sagging, then the last rule,states no pumps, no dresses,
no tunics.

I instantly thought of Tyler Perry and how Morehouse's reaction to
how some men dress, as evidence of why he won't make that movie.

Simply stated, Tyler Perry will not make that movie because the women
who
pay to see him dress up like a Black grandmommas would not support a film

where he talks about why he feels most comfortable dressing up like a
Black
Grandmomma. I then decided, after looking at the Sandra Rose
site and reading the comments
that I needed to have a conversation
with Moya, because this represented
a great teaching moment.

Tyler Perry's movies make Black women and White people feel comfortable,
oh, don't trip, we aren't the only ones in the movie theater. If he makes a movie
about why he feels most comfortable with in dress, this would make many
Black women and White folks incredibly uncomfortable.

Below is the interview with Moya, who runs Quirky Black Girls
and is a fellow Women Studies colleague and an incredible gender
theorist.

Renina Jarmon: Why is it acceptable for a Black school to heavily
regulate the gendered
nature of clothing?

Moya Bailey: I don't think its acceptable though I do believe in a dress code
(sometimes). I think for k-12 and I could even say in college, a dress code
that's designed to counteract the hypersexualization of youth and to limit the
expression of certain exclusionary class markers makes a lot of sense to me.
Dress codes don't have to be gender specific and students could be able to
wear a range of clothing across genders regardless of their perceived sex.
Unfortunately, this Morehouse dress code is being used to reinforce a very
classed and heteronormative idea of what a black man should look like.

RJ:Does this have to do with the origins of the school as a place rooted
educating and grooming Black civil society?

MB: I definitely think this policy is connected to some old school politics of
respectability. Black people have historically tried to model the norms
of dominate culture, hoping that this mimicry would afford equal treatment
as opposed to subjugation. "Good" black men don't wear high heels or
sagging pants. There's been a lot of talk about how heels or sagging
pants won't fly in corporate America, as if to say the ultimate goal for
Morehouse men is to become black versions of the CEO's and capitalists
that are destroying communities of color with unliveable wages, gentrification,
environmental racism, and hazardous working conditions. That said, a lot
of work has been done to ensure that folks can wear what they want to
wear in corporate America. Non-discrimination policies, while not
indicative of the work climate necessarily, provide employees rights
to dress as they see fit and if employers have a problem, provide legal
means through which employees can act.

RJ:Are the people on Sandrarose.com aware that they sound like white
folks who didn't want their children to attend integrated schools in the
1950's? [Sandra Rose's statement"A man can’t lead other men wearing a dress",
sounds like some of the birthers, denying the presidents right to BE the
president.]
"buttercup24 Says:

I’m glad they are taking a stand. I’ve said numerous times I don’t have a problem with other people’s lifestyles but some people take it too far. If you are a gay man keyword is MAN. Act like one and the same thing with women. The saggy pants thing too. Save that for the knuckleheads on the street who aren’t going anywhere."

Dhoward1913 Says:

They should withdraw!!!! Why the hell would you go to Morehouse with that tomfoolery? These folks are out of control. Gay is one thing, but dressing like a woman…..and to the point that the school has to give guidelines. Damn, if you going to Morehouse you obviously want to get a degree and work in the public sector. You can’t dress like that in the public sector. Only hairsylist can do that.


MB: "A man can't lead another man wearing a dress." this quote is so deep and so
problematic to me. I'll break it down.
1. What constitutes appropriate dress for men and women is always shifting.
What's masculine one day can be feminine the next. Don't folks know the
history of high heels?
2. Read Bailey's Cafe by Gloria Naylor. Tell me then if a man can't lead
another man wearing a dress.
3. There's an assumption that for a man to be taking seriously he needs
to be marked as such. There's something silly about a man in women's
clothing. Why? Is it because men don't take women seriously? If we
change the phrase to " A woman can't lead another woman wearing pants,"
the statement very obviously breaks down.

What is it about masculinity that is so fragile that it becomes
questionable when cloaked in a dress?


RJ: Why do we assume that just because Black men weren't visibly gay
on Morehouse's campus that they, haven't been there historically?

MB: Girl, I don't know! And this is the thing about all black institutions, the
church, school, family, community, etc. There is an understanding that
there are queer black folks in these spaces but traditionally folks have
tried to argue via politics of respectability, "Hide yourself." Black queer
people can be present just not visibly so or at least not so visible as to
call attention to themselves. We have this false notion that hiding queerness
will some how make us more respectable more deserving of being
treated like human beings if we don't deviate from the norms that mainstream
(read: white) society created for us.

RJ: Is the subtext in the conversation that some hetero sexual black women
attend Spelman with the intent of finding a husband and a visible Black
gay male population stifles this possibility?

MB:Maybe but I don't think this is about heterosexual black women as much
as it is about making the homosocial nature of a school like Morehouse
not be read as homoerotic. What I mean is that Morehouse as a school
that wishes to claim a majority heterosexual student body, has anxiety
around the visible presence of gay students. What will people think if they
see black men rocking the latest jimmy cho's or sporting saggin' pants
etc. What is so interesting is that the dress code slices both ways.
They want to rid themselves of a working class hypermasculinity that is
expressed through baggy clothing as well as a feminine (read: queer)
aesthetic that also troubles a more conventional mainstream black
middle class masculinity. It seems much more prudent to begin to
have conversations about black masculinity and all that could be
rather than create a reactionary policy that brings attention to
the conservative and no-liberatory vision of the school.

RJ:What are Black people scared of?

MB: I think black people are afraid of their own queer desires. It's so
interesting that homosexuality is so threatening in our communities
that we'd rather institute draconian policies that limit all that we are or
who we could be out of fear. Homosexaulity and heterosexaulity are
recent concepts that don't effectively convey the diversity of human
sexuality, gender or biological sex. We hold tight to the notion that two
sexes, produce two genders which lead to two orientations but history
and our current world refute this at every turn. but we hold on. We hold
to these notions that ultimately imprison us and do nothing to transform
the world into what it could be. It's our desire to hold onto values, that
were never ours by the way, that keep us locked in a push/pull that is
not transformational or edifying.

RJ
: Any other thoughts?


MB: I think Morehouse has a lot more to be concerned about than the
5 gay students who may or may not be wearing heels. How about
the number of sexual assaults that involve Morehouse students
and women in the Atlanta University Center? I can tell you it's way
more than five. How about the virulent homophobia and sexism that
goes unquestioned in the student body and in the administration?


As a feminist, I also want to call high heels into question as not
necessarily being indicative of a liberatory politic. Heels hurt your feet
and can even destroy them over a long period of time. I think it's interesting
that this ultra feminine footwear can be reclaimed as transgressive when
in some ways I think it can be the epitome of a hegemonic hetero-patriarchal state.

For more reading:
The difference between gender and sex
Elizabeth Gates's article in The Daily Beast: Morehouse College's Gay Tragedy
Article in the Paper Tiger, Morehouses newspaper: Is Gay the Way?
Latoya Peterson article at Racialicious: LA Times Explores Being Gay at Morehouse
Jason Harrell on Keith Boykin.com: Black and Gay at Morehouse

Interesting?

What does it mean that this is what Morehouse chooses to focus on?

Why Black folks sound like white 1950's or 2009 birther racist?

Did you know that Black MBA students can't wear locks or cornrows at Hampton?
This is material because they have a 5 year undergrad/MBA program.

What are we scared of?

Thoughts?

13 comments:

M.Z. said...

I actually attended Hampton for my Freshman & Sophomore year... and the reasoning is to try and get you assimilated into the business world. While they're not saying that you can't have your hair that way in the business world, their objective is to have you ready & presentable for the "corporate" world in knowledge and appearance. The thing about Hampton & Morehouse are they are private schools meaning they can do whatever they want in terms of policy because they're privately funded. The rules are stated upfront and students don't have to go there.

I don't think the cross-dressing rule is bad, because they not going against homosexuals. The school has a dress code & they can change it how they see fit. Had this been somewhere like Ohio State (my alma mater) it'd be different. But no state funded school.

Also, Hampton didn't let freshmen boys to go into girls dorms rooms 1st semester & vice versa. So there are alot of things like that HBCUs do as well.

M.Dot. said...

MZ,

Why is Morehouse more concerned with making
folks assimilation worthy, and less concern with the sexual assaults of men and women on and near campus?

What is the point of trying to assimilate for some jobs that are being eliminated faster than they are being created?

Schools and Universities are microcosms of society. What does it mean if Tyler Perry built a Kingdom dressing like a grandmomma, but these men on Morehouse's campus spur the creation of draconian dress rules?

Awaiting your reply.

~neens

M.Z. said...

Why is Morehouse more concerned with making
folks assimilation worthy, and less concern with the sexual assaults of men and women on and near campus?
==================

Because it's more quantitative and they can show results to alumni. Remember they have to sing for their supper so to speak.

What is the point of trying to assimilate for some jobs that are being eliminated faster than they are being created?
=============================

what's the point of going to school then? It's the status quo. Plus these HBCU's were equal parts finishing school & place of higher education to begin with. So it's ingrained in the culture of the school. Times have changed, but alumni (especially older alumni) still expect the schools to be like that & their children make up a majority of the enrollment.


Schools and Universities are microcosms of society. What does it mean if Tyler Perry built a Kingdom dressing like a grandmomma, but these men on Morehouse's campus spur the creation of draconian dress rules?
============================

It means that, like you said, society can handle the idea in a fantasy setting, but not the underlying issues behind it.

Had this been anywhere other than a private institution, I'd cry foul on it.

Brother OMi said...

man, I thought I was hard on Tyler Perry...

i can dig it

dope post...

Model Minority said...

MZ,

Why is it permissible for private institution to do this, but not a public insitution?

The notion of public re private, is abritrary, fake and a legal fiction based on an insitutions corporation papers. Privateness is a definition that can be collapsed by making the arguement that IF YOU RECIEVE federal money your ass ain't public.

THIS is the rational for enforcing Title IV and Title IX, meh thinks.

Brother O.
Thank you.


Where are the WOMEN readers?

M.Z. said...

Whether it's fake or arbitrary, it is what it is. If they got the papers that allow them to do it and get away with it, they can simple as that.

Model Minority said...

MZ,

Thank you for providing the context re HBCU's and their histories.

With regard to the schools and their rights vs the students and their rights,
perphas we are riding for two different assumptions here.

I ride for Black folks and resistance.

Fuck they rules. Humans MAKE rules and Humans
change rules.

According to your rationale we would still be on
a plantation, "Massa say we's can't leave, so I'se staying."

Never those on my homie.

M.Z. said...

According to your rationale we would still be on
a plantation, "Massa say we's can't leave, so I'se staying."
=====================

I wouldn't be down for that per se. lol.

But I can't front, the rule is partly ok to me because I wouldn't want to see that if I was there. I wouldn't say I'm a homophobe... but be you on your own time. We have a lot of cross dressers & flamboyant people in my city. And if you look at them, they get defensive regardless of whether you say anything or not. Don't do something for attention and then try to act like you don't want it when it comes.

randomill said...

The topic that your covering as a whole is interesting. For the most part college campus's are supposed to be (expensive) bastions of self expression, learning and thought. Having a dress code such as this implemented severely inhibits such things.

Upon first hearing about the restrictions, I immediately was against them on both ends. The university experience should be one last enjoyment of personally expressive freedoms before becoming embroiled into a near lifetime of dictatorial toil.

While Cosbyesque in nature I understand the thinking behind the dress code, but if one doesn’t understand what is and isn’t permissible in the corporate environment by the time they try to break into it, that’s on them.

Sadly while our country extols it democratic ideals, the jobs our very existence is dependent on jobs that are anything but. Given that reality, we must adapt or perish.
Du-Rags aren’t gonna cut it, neither are high heels on males.

Even given that tho, I don’t think its right for any college campus to forcibly prime you for the corporate dress code.

I see the logic in Moya’s statement of:
"Good" black men don't wear high heels or
sagging pants. There's been a lot of talk about how heels or sagging
pants won't fly in corporate America, as if to say the ultimate goal for
Morehouse men is to become black versions of the CEO's and capitalists
that are destroying communities of color with unliveable wages, gentrification,
environmental racism, and hazardous working conditions”

I mean I often thought of crafting a t-shirt with a stoic looking white business man in a suit and under his picture having “THUG” spelled out. I still look at her statemen as being dismissive towards the the ultimate goal of crafting professionals tho.

America has a profound strain of ignorance within it. Black folks are American, so it never amazes me when black people say dumb s***
“A man can’t lead other men wearing a dress” at its base is small minded, and automatically dismisses whatever talent and skill set said male dress wearer might have.

But whether or not its reflective of a society in need of progressive change or not.
That statement does have some, practical footing.

When answering “what are we scared of” I first haft to state that we are products of our domestic environment, so a lot of our views on what “man hood” is and gender roles should be, are as American, as they are Black.

So even if I don’t particularly agree with the word “scared” I will say a large segment of the black male populous doesn’t want to be, nor likes to see of others of his ilk, viewed as effeminate, for they see that as anti manhood, just like the average white male does.

I would say that the anit, du-rag, corn rows, baggy pants, mandate stems out of the fear that you wise college students will fail to conform to common business mores and ultimately not achieve levels of success because they wanted to retain customs normal to them in arenas (most) which they have no power to do so.

Model Minority said...

Thank you for being honest.

I would imagine this conversation was hard.

I appreciate it.

"be you on your own time."

Wow.

I can only think of the times throughout history
in which white folks in positions of power have said the same things about us.

Model Minority said...

Dame,

Thank you for your eloquent response. I hung on every word. The Black men on THIS blog, the People on this blog ROCK and I am happy to write for you all!

***I noticed you cleaned up them typos too! Yeah!

But whether or not its reflective of a society in need of progressive change or not.
That statement does have some, practical footing.
=======
What does this mean?

~Reneens

randomill said...

:) at them typos lol Proof reading is an enemy that I need to befriend...

I think Sandra Rose’s statement of "A man can’t lead other men wearing a dress”, Has some merit when tested on the ground. As males we have been trained to be dismissive towards those who indulge in what society has defined as feminine expressions. It is easy for many men to instantly revoke any default respect for a male who inuldges in such expressions, and its difficult for others to manifest said respect towards another male who doesn’t fit general masculine ideals even when their livelihoods depend on it.

I say “whether or not”, because I’m not wholly set on what’s “right” or what’s practical in my own mind yet in the work place.

I feel that as a society we are in need of change when it comes to the way we look at and treat issues involving women, homosexuals, transgender people,(endless etc), in damn near every aspect of life.

But

I don’t know how I would implement those changes in the workplace.

The workplace within itself is its own “society” and is generally viewed as such by most people of damn near every background you can think of. Unless there is a GRAND push to make the workplace, more like well, normal life outside of work,,,ummm scratch that, more like libertarian life outside of work, then it would be hard for me to say that restrictians on the the general office dress code should be lifted for a paticular cultrue's dress patterns.

The corperate dress code effects everyone, not just black people or cross dressers,(arguably us more and cross dressers wholly) so I would haft to see a general societal push for change in its default make up, before I would expect for it to become more accepting of baggy pants and men in dresses.

Ultimately tho, I find that what you wear, or how your hair style might be, has no bearing on just how talented a individual may be, and plenty of human assets are pushed aside every day due to spurious thoughts on their appearance.

the prisoner's wife said...

i find it funny (ironic) that these institutions are trying to make black folks into white folks instead of teaching them to question the current structure of things & change it.

i'm SURE the students at Morehouse wouldn't wear a dress to an interview @ Morgan Stanley because they already know how to play THAT game. these men aren't stupid. they've played the game their whole lives & are in college--a time when we are FREE (allegedly) to express ourselves. imagine what white USC (my alma mater) students would do if the school outlawed wearing PJs to class. please.

we constantly look to fit ourselves in the white culture when there is NOT a space for us. at any given moment we can be ousted.

HBCUs should be bastions of revolutionary thought, not trying to force black/gay students to fit neatly into the white box.

Post a Comment

eXTReMe Tracker