Back in Africa after four years I was struck by seeing only two African men with the Buckwheat style hairdos and none with the earrings affected by our black American men (and boys). Not one in Johannesburg, Polokwane or Alldays. Now the women’s hairstyles range from weaves to intricate braids to jerri-curls to straight to buzzcuts to shaved. I even complimented the customs agent about her hair. It would have made all the women at home envious with the skill it took to fashion. But the men? It’s all close to the scalp. There are relatively few shaved heads and virtually no big Afros either. I would have thought that given the adoption of most things American that I would see tattoos, buckwheat dos and earrings. But no, none of the above. I’ve always wondered if it is difficult to be manly with earrings? I have a theory: since 70 percent of all black kids are born to unwed mothers, it is only natural that the boys would want to identify with and look like their role models – their mothers. Hence, the girly look that is so prevalent among black males. Of course the only reason the men look like they do is because the women think its attractive. So why do women want to be with men that look so feminine? It says something about black women that is interesting. The Wall Street Journal some time ago reported a study that showed that women from developed rich countries preferred men who looked feminine while women in less developed poorer countries preferred more masculine looking men. The Journal postulated that this had something to do with protection and hunting and gathering which still had some importance in poorer countries. So that many black women in America seem to be attracted to girly men (in Schwarzenegger’s words) should come as no surprise. They are like their white sisters who also have a preference for more feminine men (metrosexuals?). The only difference is that whereas there is a growing affinity for earrings among young white males and many of those affect long hair, bouffant hair has yet to take hold.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com