Recent Article “Bed-Stuy And Its Dandies”

Recently asked to write for my college’s newspaper I was influenced by my study of Dandyism. Below is a rough draft of the article. Fortunately, my journalism instructor advised me to create a better  more extended draft and push it as far as possible:

As a current resident of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community, the positive transition this once gang, crime-ridden community has taken is highly noticeable. From the early 1990’s, the “BedStuy” area of Brooklyn was considered one of the most dangerous areas of the borough.  Today with the construction of new small businesses, to the “emigration” of many Manhattan residents, who desire sustainable rent and living conditions, the area has taken a course towards progression. The small businesses that strive within this area are that of clothing boutiques, similar to those found on Madison Ave. Many of these newly built businesses are surprisingly owned by African American entrepreneurs, and are strategically placed in areas greatly populated by the African American youth.  Arising from the creation of boutiques, and the rejuvenation of the relationship between black culture and clothing is the return of “The Black Dandy”.

Dandyism a popular movement known for its roots linked to the African slaves, and their interaction with Europeans. Dandyism entails an individual’s (preferably men) representation of philosophy in their clothing. In addition, the Dandy also focuses on translating his intelligence into personal style. Currently the movement includes followers their elder ages of 60+, and young individuals, of both color and business sophistication. In the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, the well-dressed African American men group together, well equipped with messenger bags of fine fabric, well tailored suits and beards (an occasional aspect of the “Black Dandy”) to discuss their political, social or economic ideals.

The Fort Greene section of Brooklyn has been considered the Mecca of black enthusiasts, who believe in presenting their culture and philosophy, into the intricacy of their fabrics and accessories. It seems as if the male youth of the Bedford-Stuyvesant area, have taken a cue from their Fort Greene brothers in pushing forth the idea of the “Black Dandy”.  Now more than ever, young men are trading in their oversized jeans for suspenders, extra large t-shirts for Oxfords and once sagging dress pants for pleated tailored slacks. “Yes, I think people would embrace the dandy look said Laquasia Wilkins, once a resident of the Bedford Stuyvesant area. “Simply because young men are always interested in different ways to express themselves through style” like Ms. Wilkins I agree that a great place for African American men to start in changing their image in the eyes of society, is their dress.  Dress is a great place to start, but is that all that contributes to the idea of the “Black Dandy”?

One of the most notable aspects of Dandyism is the formidable process of dress, but what is lost in the flair of the flamboyant pocket-squares, are the modes of etiquette and style one must have to assist the clothing. Lino Thomas, currently a designer and “Black Dandy” replied immediately when asked if there is a need of etiquette in the African American community “Etiquette separates humans from each other, there are those who place manners before the customs of their culture and those who do not”

Mr. Thomas points out a very interesting idea, which in today’s society is very true.  The English are considered of the “upper crust” because of their wealth, hierarchy but more importantly their society’s emphasis on manners and etiquette. Mr. Thomas plans to provide both etiquette and speech lessons, geared towards the male youth of the African American community, “We do need to embrace the culture of being respectful towards each other and presenting excellent manners, this will not only enhance the image of the Black Dandy, but for all young African-American men.