November 20, 2012

Standing Strong or Saggin?

Sagging is a fashion trend where a young male will wear his pants so far below his waist that his often brightly colored and patterned 'boxer' underwear is on full display. One theory is it's origins came from the U.S. prison system where belts are prohibited as a safety measure. In the 90's, hip-hop and rappers popularized the fashion in their dress and music.

For generations, young people have always found ways to offend the adult taste and sensibilities when it comes to dress. My generation did it in the late 60's and early 70's with strange hair and weird clothing. It was our way to say to our parents, "we're not you, and we're choosing our own path whether you like it or not!" During that time, we felt we were making a statement about the horrors of the Vietnam war and taking a stand for peace by wearing our own uniform. We felt we were standing for something right and noble. I'm sure many saggers feel they are taking a stand, too; it's just not clear to me what it's all about.

Since the 90's, in the U.S., schools, churches, communities, transit authorities, airlines and some states have passed rules, regulations, and even laws to limit sagging. The boys who wear their pants down too low at the Westside Middle School in Memphis, Tennessee get “Urkelized,” a campaign named after the nerdy and  lovable nerd Steve Urkel from the 90's sitcom, Family Matters. At the school, the principle first talks to the young man to try to convince him to hike up his pants. Then the school calls the child’s parents. If that fails, zip ties are used to tighten the pant’s waistline. Principal White says this is all to guide his students to look their best and to think more about pride, passion and professionalism- not to mention have a little fun in the process.

In his 2008 campaign, President Obama weighed in on the issue on MTV. While stating that laws banning the practice were pretty much "a waste of time," he went on to imply it was really a matter of decency. Here's the rest of his quote.
"Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on. Some people might not want to see your underwear. I’m one of them."
To take the sagging issue one step deeper, I love how one of my brothers in mission, Mustafa Mahdi, put it in a recent Facebook post:
Ever wonder what would happen if our daughters were wearing their pants or skirts below their behind and crotch in public? They won't do it because they know their mothers or society won't allow it and they'd be arrested immediately for indecent exposure!

It's obvious this ridiculous, disgusting sagging fad is promoted in the media and by their puppet rappers for one make young black males a target. Sagging is typically accompanied by bad behavior, cussing, delinquency, drug use, gang affiliation, and criminal activity. It's just a matter of time before they are arrested or killed...unless someone or something intervenes to help a young man to see that he is not a thug, but a human being with a higher calling.

In 2013, we men must make a commitment to become more engaged in the lives of our children...treat our wives, women, sisters, mothers and daughters and sons with dignity and respect. Then we have to select at least one male child who does not have a father in his life and become his "father figure" or big brother...and teach him what authentic manhood is all about.

In the words of my dear brother Henry Carter, "when the man stands up, the boys sit down"...calling all men! Stand up and man up or sit down and shut up...if you ain't for the solution, you're part of the problem!
Having good and caring men involved in the lives of fatherless, under-male-parented, or really any boys, may not be a cure for bad taste in attire. But it will go a long way toward helping young men stand strong for themselves in the face of all the challenges they have on the path to becoming solid men.

Here is a video that was created in response to a Florida law restricting sagging. It's a rap tune called “Pull Ya Pantz Up.” I really like it!

If the clip doesn't show, use this link

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