As an 80s baby I grew up watching and loving Living Single. I know I wasn’t the only one.
I admired every character and could see a part of me in each one, from enterprising and independent Khadijah and strong and sexy Max, to funny and fun-loving Sinclair and feminine and flirty Regine.
Even the male characters intrigued me. In fact, there was one scene during a popular episode with supporting character, Kyle Barker, that I will never forget.
The budding stockbroker – who I always thought was FINE – was up for a promotion at work. He was excited, yet nervous, at the opportunity. After hearing the news, Kyle was told by a Black male colleague that he should cut his locs if he thought he had any chance at getting the new position.
Understandably, Kyle stewed over the decision, but ultimately decided to keep his locs remarking that they were part of his identity. He later found out that his White counterparts never had a problem with his hair. The suggestion was solely coming from his Black colleague and more tied to jealousy than prejudice.
Locs We Love
Fast-forward to now, while we have made great strides within the Black community in accepting ourselves and all of the beautiful melanated parts of our culture, some would argue that stigma and stereotypes are still attached to loc hairstyles. Especially when worn by men.
“Yeah I definitely I don’t think we’re past it,” said F.D. Signifer, a popular culture expert and YouTuber who wears long locs. “While I personally haven’t experienced prejudice or discrimination because of my hair, I have been fearful of it on numerous occasions. I’ve thought to myself, ‘should I cut my hair for jobs outside of my field,’ when I was trying to go from teaching to careers that were more corporate.”
As a social media influencer, F.D. Signifer has become known for his candid commentary and overall look. And, while he embraces his hair, he does not ignore the fact that as he puts it, his expression “comes at a cost.”
“I think the thing that’s really happening [right now] is that more Black men of a certain status, lifestyle, or level of success are growing their locs and within those spaces they are accepted,” said Shafeeq. “But they are also safer because they have a level of status where you won’t tell them to cut their hair. Who is going to tell Jay Z to cut his hair? But if Jay Z was in someone’s mail room it may be different. I agree that Black men are embracing their hair and being more expressive, however I also think it’s important to know that that expression comes with a cost and not every Black man is able to pay that.”
Overall issues surrounding Black men donning locs remain so much of a pervasive problem that the topic has made it to Congress. Last March, the U.S. House passed the CROWN Act, a bill that aims to protect all Black people with natural and protective hairstyles, such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros, from discrimination.
More specifically, the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” Act will ban race-based hair discrimination in employment and against those participating in federally public programs such as affordable housing and health care. The bill now awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate.
Despite lingering perceptions about locs, Black men are embracing the natural style and rocking it better than ever. I speak for everyone when I say, “We are here for it.”
Next to a beard, locs can be one of the most attractive and unique physical attributes a Black man can have. Whether long locs, short locs, braided buns, ponytails, or dyed tresses, we love them all.
Living Single’s “Kyle Barker” may have helped pave the way in the 90s, but other personalities like Omarion, Ty Dolla Sign, and others are proving their manes can be just as beautiful as ours.
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