Sooo, with the recent announcement of the partnership between the legendary hip-hop fashion icon, Dapper Dan and the prestigious fashion house, Gucci, I had some thoughts that weren't really of the popular kind.
I was in Harlem last weekend on the block where the storefront for the collaboration will reside and it is a nice area and from what I’m told, it's an 18-month lease (insider sources). Upon first hearing the news, I was of course excited and happy for Dapper Dan and felt it was long overdue that he receives such an acknowledgment from the brand he helped popularize and make accessible to pioneers of hip-hop and street culture. Then, as I often do, I began to further analyze the situation and how it came to pass. It's the gift and curse of the analytical introvert and I wish it upon no one. Back to the topic at hand…while on Instagram the other day, I came across a post from a blogger that I follow by the name of "Stupid Black Girl. She always post engaging and insightful topics so I stopped to read and it was in regards to the Dapper Dan x Gucci collaboration and her take on it. She basically put into the atmosphere (social media is all encompassing) what I was wresting with so I reposted with very concise remark about how I understood her position and that there's some truth in it. Needless to say, it didn't take long for opposing points of views to interject albeit in a respectful manner. Dialogue ensued and I basically doubled down on my position and posed a question. Where or what is the line between appreciation and validation?
Is it validation that Gucci decided to offer an official position to Dapper Dan only after the outrage and backlash of Black Twitter and other social media channels once the flagrant duplication of a 30 year old design surfaced or is it a sign of appreciation of them acknowledging his life's work and cultural impact? Could it be both? Can we be happy for Dap while also being critical of the motives and timing behind the move by the fashion house? After all, they didn't have to do anything, right? Me personally, I don't subscribe to the latter train of thought because if we look throughout history, many things did not have to take place but often, it is just good to do the right thing. Keep in mind that Gucci had Dapper Dan shut down at his apex. Was the timing not right to recruit his services then since they clearly had enough awareness of him and his operation to snuff out is livelihood? There was no social media storm to weather back then and now we have all the information at our fingertips to form an educated opinion on the matter. This is not an isolated incident for me by the way. I feel this way about the Oscar's, Grammy's and any other award that was never truly meant to include people of color as participants, nominees nor recipients. When I see the outrage or "Blackouts", I’m left wondering, "Why do we care so much?” Everyone in all aspects of life wants to feel appreciated but I'd like to think we all have a breaking point where integrity kicks in and we're unwilling to bend over that one extra time. Do we really need the Oscar's to let us know that Denzel Washington is an extraordinary actor? Hell, does Denzel himself need the committee of the Oscar's co-sign for him to believe that he is extraordinary? Kanye is one of my favorite artists of all time but I could never understand his Grammy rants and why it drew so much passion from him. Actually, in Mr. West's case, I always thought it was more insecurity and needing the validation on some level but that's just my armchair point of view. If one is truly at peace with oneself and are held in high regard by those who more closely identify with them, their talent and story, shouldn't that appreciation count for something? Should the validation of people whom you share the least amount in common with trump the former? I'm not sure there is a right or wrong answer but I encourage us to have an open and honest dialogue about it because I think there are many layers that need to be peeled back that would somehow find it's root in self-esteem.
I'm not here to be a downer but I just want us as a people to more critical thinkers of situations and not to just acquiesce and celebrate as soon as a crumb gets thrown our way. Not to be happy just to have a seat at the table since we're the table that America has broke bread upon for centuries. With that being said, congrats again to Dapper Dan. Gucci…not so much.