By Frederick Lowe
I am surprised and more than a little mystified why black men are not speaking out about Pose star Billy Porter, a black man who wears dresses and high heels and screams “bitches” at every chance he gets. It has made him a star.
He is foisted on black men by the news media, which seems to be comfortable with two types of black men – those in handcuffs and those who wear dresses and high heels.
Porter was profiled in a recent New York Times. He was photographed as designers fitted him for a dress. The Times is the same newspaper that put infamous drug dealer Nicky Barnes, on the cover of The New York Times Magazine.
Barnes probably did more to gentrify Harlem by making it a haven for junkies who robbed and killed innocent residents to feed their drug habits. Blacks moved out of the neighborhood to escape crime, and their property sold dirt cheap. Realtors gobbled them up.
Porter said he’s determined to keep wearing dresses. His supporters, many of them white, some black, cheer him on. After all, they argue that women wear pants. Why can’t black men wear dresses?
Blacks are saluting Porter without putting him in the nation’s racist historical context in which African-American men have either been murdered, ignored, or debased.
In a 2016 paper titled “Men without Pants: Masculinity and the Enslaved,” historian Stanley Elkins wrote that slaveholders emasculated enslaved boys and men – by denying them the right to wear pants.
“By forcing young African American boys and men to wear dress-like shirts, the owners of flesh attempted to feminize and humiliate enslaved males daily.”
Of course, we are no longer slaves at least physically, but psychologically many of us may still be. After all, it’s not unusual to see black -male comedians dress up like women to delight audiences.
As more attention is paid to the LBGTQ community, we have learned to accept differences in some people, but I am not applauding Billy Porter because I firmly believe he is insulting black men. I also think he is in the pockets of slaveholders.