Saturday, January 23, 2010

#1 Blacks and Cocked Hats

Today, most people associate sideways hat wearing with rappers, counter-culture, and Black males in general, but where does it come from – and please don’t say Will Smith, Mr. Fresh Prince? It’s an important question because the style is also utilized by some authorities to profile certain ‘persons of interest’ – White-speak for Blacks and Latinos dressed like they’re getting ready to start something.

To be fair, I too have noticed that Black males, women too, like to wear their hats crooked, so I believe the fashion stereotype is true, but so what. My dad, who would be in his eighties, use to wear his hat cocked like another man, whom he was not fond of, Ronald Reagan. My dad and ‘the Gipper’, as well as others of that day, including Gene Kelly and Jackie Robinson, would tilt their hats to the side, but pops never allowed me to copy him. He said I couldn’t cock my hat until I was grown. There’s the clue.

If we back it up, hundreds of years ago in an all-White galaxy, far-far away, a cocked hat had two or three corners (bicorn/tricorn), resulting from the brims being folded upward toward the crown. When properly cocked, or placed, one corner had to align over the nose of the wearer, or in the case of the bicorn, the two corners could be exactly opposite the nose (Napoleon-style). Half-cocked, or cockeyed (lopsided) was the term for when the angle of placement moved the corner (the bill) out of alignment with the nose. Over time half-cocked became just plain ‘cocked’. Yep, you heard right, White men started this fashion move that is now getting brothers hassled – the irony sucks.

The key to this hat ‘cocked-ness’ was summed up by late crooner Frank Sinatra, who said, ‘angle is attitude’. Frank had it, Ronnie had it, Snoop Dogg has it, and Goober Pyle (pictured on the left) definitely is missing it. You see too much cocking of the hat says, ‘I’m a doofus’. Are you listening Flava?

So the next time you see a Black guy, with his Negro League baseball cap going all which-a-ways, getting detained by the cops for no valid reason, just for kicks yell at him to stop ‘acting so White’ – which will confuse the hell out of him and police too, hopefully giving them all pause to consider themselves.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

How about explaining one pants leg pulled up or the waist of the pants all the way down to bottom of the butt cheeks?

Don't think anyone in the past did that. :)

Ms. Negro said...

I see the #1, is the part of some sort of list or something? You have some fun little trivia tidbits here. I love trivia and I'm sure this is like a jokey joke post...right? You are not seriously suggesting there is some significance in or relationship between the "cockers" are you?

James C. Collier said...

Ms. Negro, just trying lighten the weekend. The only relationship is the one that you see, or do not see. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it still goes on but, when I was a youngun, the direction your hat was cocked had gang signifigance (same with the pant leg, anonymous 8:31).