By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
As a high-heels-wearing, late '70's-, '80's-, '90's-, and even, yes, New Millennium-living whatever one may choose to call mefaggot-sissy-punk-same-gender-loving-man-who-loves-men (and women)who listens to, yes, Barbra-Janet-Tupac-Ms.Hill-Sisquós's-Juvenile-club-house-disco-jazz-blues-gospel-classical-chants, etc., I was enlightened, as well as saddened, by Guy Trebay's "Homo Thugz Blow Up the Spot" [February 8]. However, I am sure the alleged faggots, project punks, sissy un-manly queens, dykes of the Harlem Renaissance and, yes, the Stonewall Era must be snapping their fingers and rolling their eyes from beyond the grave to know that their energy, blood, sweat, and tears (mixed with a little foundation) were all in vain.
It seems as though we are experiencing a backlash. That young, urban, black men are listening to music which condemns their sexuality, yet elevates their "down-low-manly" status (even to the point of glorifying their self-hatred), should be a wake-up call to everyone concerned with their social development.
Over the past 20 years, I can recall dancing to music that was about being uninhibited, exploring one's sexuality, and having major fun right along with the faggots, B-boys, dykes, and ho's who only cared about having a good time and enjoying the moment. But once we left the dance floor, we entered the bright morning sun with our heads held highhigh heels, combat boots, Timberlands, and allproud of our past, present, and future. However, after reading this article, I began to question the future for the next generation of sexual black men.
I guess Trebay didn't stay long on the second floor at the Warehouse, where he would've seen a diverse group of men and women of various backgrounds who don't play into this self-hating mentality. Next time he visits, I would suggest that he leave the basement with the "down-low project thugs" and cover a wide range of Warehouse "children." As my colleague Mark Tuggle stated in the article, "hip-hop overall supersedes the lyrics"-or perhaps one should ask Kaos, the former video actor, now porno movie thug, to help educate his posse to embrace everyone regardless of one's "image" (but eventually time will take care of those images as well).
Jaime Lowe's "The Adorableness of Asian Alphabet Pop" [February 8] conveys a tone of condescending sympathy (mainly toward Korean pop) that I find upsetting, because Lowe fails to examine the culture behind the music. Yes, in many ways K-pop does imitate Japanese pop and does appear to be a "homespun response to Western culture." Still, what Lowe interprets in the mannerisms of K-pop's stars is but an elementary foreign perception of a culture she does not understand, and will fail to understand if she never removes her Western goggles.
Lowe refers to K-pop stars as "rock stars too shy and uncoordinated to look straight at you." What she sees as an underdeveloped stage presence is not a result of clumsiness or reserve, but a reflection of a philosophy that permeates Asian culture and unfortunately escapes the understanding of Westerners: that one does not have to scream his/her self-absorbed message at another to be understood.
Lowe also claims that Korean stars' attempts at English are "a little bit rocky, like fortune cookies that aren't quite complete sentences but close enough to get a laugh and a good fortune." Although Lowe may get a good laugh out of Koreans speaking English, she apparently does not realize that any Asian language must often dumb itself into near idiocy to be expressed in English. The attempt comes off as funny, and seems to reflect an inability to speak in grammatically correct fashion, but more poignant is the futility of the English language itself to contain the right words.
If Lowe were truly soaked in Korean language and culture, and didn't have the useless aid of an American filter, then she wouldn't be so amazed that a Korean vocalist can "actually sing" and possesses a "surprising range."
Lowe's acknowledgment is applaudable, but her lack of cultural understanding is unforgivable because it is thick with American nationalism. It is that sort of regrettable pride and condescension that permeates American air and preserves Asian stereotypes. Such lack of depth will continue to keep Korean pop from crossing over to American audiences, and thankfully so.
I am a dreadlocked professional employed by a nonprofit in New York City. You would think that after a century of struggle and protest, a simple matter such as how one wears one's hair would not be a reflection of how a person performs a job, or whether a person should continue to hold a job at a mainstream corporation. FedEx should be ashamed of itselfand, in this regard, it should be clear that most companies that tout their "diversity" are still in the Stone Age.
There are many of us who grow our locks in order to accept ourselves, to acknowledge the fact that we do love ourselves and the nappy texture of our hair, despite all that institutional slavery has tried to strip from us as a people.