Growing up as a black male there is always a constant theme you are told by your father, uncles and grandfathers. It usually starts/ends with the words “Men do or don’t do this” you are also reminded how you need to be “strong” not to your own standards but of one that you have inherited from a time you aren’t from. Your whole life is centered on these ideals that if you show emotion, it makes you weak a man and should not show that side to anyone. Of course unless you use it to gain sexual pleasures from the opposite sex. This is a custom you are told to live by, if not you will be ridiculed and slandered constantly. These are the tales a black male is restricted to live by, a concept which allows black men to believe if you aren’t physically strong you aren’t equipped to protect those around you.
We have allowed the world’s standard of the fact a black male should be strong, a black man should be feared in a sense to get a level entry into society. The world is already against the black man, the black man should not now turn its back against its own black men. Something our black musical artists especially in the field of hip hop should be more vocal about, considering how influential the hip hop genre is a voice for the black male. It echoes a voice of struggle, violence of what a man goes through a fundamental issue is when it doesn’t cover all aspects of what a black male(s) goes through. Especially the issue of how black masculinity is so fragile, how the hyper sexual male has become so hell bent on finding anything gay.
There are artists such as Tyler, the Creator who touch on the issue. His belief is that if you speak of something so much you denounce its importance, why you find his saying “fag” or “homo” so much in his older music. It had nothing to do with the fact he was homophobic it was all to take away the impact of the word by using it in a playful manner. To an extent the way hip hop was before tried show how a man should behave, hip hop created a blueprint on how men should act. It looked; one needing to have a plethora of hoes (loose term) around you be the man, being a gangster in your music videos and somewhat keep the appearance in real life too.
When you look at how the game started off that way now he an IG (Instagram) poster boy, giving an example in a shift of where hip hop is. All the blueprint did was identify a certain type of black male, not give a holistic idea of the different types of black men. Not all hip hop artists are let’s call them hyper-sexual rappers such as Lil B advocate on changing the norm of the way people see rappers. Then you find other who would label Young Thug gay for showing affection to his friends, making it seem that being “Gay” is wrong, which it isn’t.
I can’t not only speak on international stars with their issues and forget that homosexuality is illegal in 31 African countries. People are being killed for who they are, because if you aren’t a man to a certain standard then death is better than who you are (add sarcasm font here). When black masculinity reaches such levels you wonder why the silence of artists needs to be addressed. A quote says “if you are quiet about an issue then you agree on it.” South Africa does not have a restriction on homosexuality but you have tradition that fills the gap. When you look at how strict tradition is on black men, being the provider of a home, having to continue the family name through procreation.
Needing to do certain tasks to affirm you are a man, this differs from each tradition in South Africa granted. Yet the pressures put on sons is a constant theme throughout all traditions remains. What happens when a male isn’t attracted to the opposite sex? Who speaks on these issues for the gay male black community in South Africa? Nobody who could have an influence or give clarity on the issue faced by black men in Mzansi. A voice is an influence on how to break the barriers we as black men find ourselves in. Hip hop is a platform that speaks for black men and to black men. Artists should see their importance and fine music has become a lot less lyrical content oriented (trap life, catchy music) but music isn’t the only space where issues can be addressed.
By: Thube Nkutha