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How Kid Cudi Wearing A Floral Dress On 'SNL' Set An Important New Standard For Black Masculinity

Photo: YouTube
Kid Cudi performing Sad People on Saturday Night Live

This past weekend, Kid Cudi, whose real name Scott Mescudi, performed his song "Sad People" on Saturday Night Live.

During his performance, Cudi wore a floral dress to pay homage to Kurt Cobain.

In doing so, Kid Cudi set a new standard for Black masculinity In the US.

The morning after his appearance as SNL's musical guest, Cudi also tweeted that he is working on a collection with Off-White, the fashion label founded by Virgil Abloh, who designed the floral print sundress, stating that the dress will be included.

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Kid Cudi, a man who has been extremely vocal about his struggles with his mental health, which is something Black men usually never share in fear of being labeled as weak.

It was immensely refreshing to see Kid Cudi defy gender norms, especially as a Black man, on a mainstream program like SNL.

Kid Cudi is comfortable enough in his masculinity to not only wear a dress, but to do so while sharing his own experiences and using his platform to educate people about mental health.

But there's still a long way to go in addressing issues related to Black masculinity in America and the ways its toxicity fails Black boys from a young age.

Much of what defines Black masculinity in America is caused by the failing systems and institutions destroying the Black community.

One example of this is the school-to-prison pipeline.

According to The Edvocate, "Many Black boys’ learning styles and social skills are often misconstrued as problems by educators. Those who have disadvantaged home lives are often accustomed to activity rather than sitting still, and to shouting and argument as a means of communication. These do not translate well to the classroom. The result is that black boys do not receive the most effective forms of discipline, lessons, and peer interaction opportunities."

Black learners make up just 18 percent of public school students, but an estimated 40 percent of all students expelled from US schools are black.

This ultimately leads to higher levels of poverty, and eventually, higher incarceration rates.

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The reality of being a Black man in America is having to keep up a facade of hyper-masculinity.

Black men aren’t afforded the luxury of being viewed as anything other than strong, emotionless, and resilient.

They need to be aggressive and unwavering in everything they do, so showing any sort of weakness or doubt is heavily frowned upon.

The centuries of trauma and being beaten down in this country have left Black men believing they do not have the luxury of being sensitive.

They're taught that if they are, they won't ever be able to survive in this world; not as a Black person, and not as a man.

Black men have had to adopt hostile traits and attitudes, because if they did not, they would be seen as weak.

In portraying the possibility of an existence that steps outside of gender and neurotypical norms, Kid Cudi is a role model who offers an important alternative representation of what a Black man can be.

Without this type of an example in such a public forum, how can they sustain living with this overwhelming pressure to meet society's view of what a man should be?

This world sees Black men as a threat — and they are raised to prepare for the horrible day when they need to confront that reality.

We need more Cudis to show them that there is another way.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Chicago. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.