pants on the ground

Is "sagging" an epidemic or a fading trend?

If we look back to the days of Adam & Eve, where clothes were non-existent, one might argue that getting dressed is affectatious, and droopy-trousers are a side effect. Yet, because we live in a society where virtually everyone wears clothes, it has become common practice to wear a decent ensemble in public (with private, body parts being covered).

But (no pun intended), as history has often shown us, when a younger generation adopts a fad or a new trend -regardless of derivation- it may take a while for it to become out-of-date... and such is the case with sagging pants.

Popular culture (via music videos and magazines), has typically presented sagging as 'an urban thing' (read: hood), often ascribing the look to Black (African-American) males. Moreover, wikipedia.org documents Lee Baker (Dean of Academic Affairs at Trinity College of Arts and Sciences), as having said that sagging is "widely believed [to be] adopted from the United States prison system where belts are prohibited... to avoid suicide by hanging oneself, or to avoid being used as a weapon in fights." So, if we were to put 2 and 2 together, we could surmise that previously incarcerated Black men were released from prison, returned to their neighborhoods and dressed beltless on a day-to-day (as if they were incarcerated), which would, in turn, create a trend?! Well, according to prisonpolicy.org, in 2007, America's prisons and jails were comprised of "one in ten (10.4%) Black males aged 25-29, 1 in 28 (3.6%) Hispanic males and 1 in 59 (1.7%) White males in the same age group," which reveals a disproportionate number of men that could possibly label sagging as being derived from prison and carrying over into the streets.

* Video (A Dose of Reality, Saggin Pants)

In contrast, Newsweek magazine quoted Todd Boyd (a professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles), as saying, "In the 1980s, long before labels like Sean [John] and Rocawear catered to Black men, the jeans of popular designers like Tommy Hilfiger were made too narrow for the Black male body. So people started buying jeans two or three sizes too big, and —voila!— a style was born."

Yet, if Boyd's theory holds true (sagging's trivial origin), that would mean David Dicks (Flint, Michigan police chief), has a distorted opposition towards men who wear pants below the waist. Dicks (an African-American), received criticism for calling sagging "a national nuisance." He ordered his officers to arrest 'saggers' on sight, for "immoral self expression." In regard to Dicks' order of Michigan police to arrest 'saggers,' Atlanta, Georgia's Benetta Standly (an American Civil Liberties Union organizer), said, "we see this as racial profiling... It's going to target African-American male youths. There's a fear with people associating the way you dress with crimes being committed." Ironically, Flint, Michigan was ranked the third most dangerous city in America, by Congressional Quarterly, in 2007.

Even President Barack Obama weighed in on this discussion.

Back in 2008, Obama stated on MTV, that ordinances -such as Dicks'- were "a waste of time," and "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."

What's your side of the story?! To sag, or not to sag: That is the question: And here, General Larry Platt offers us a very nuanced answer:

* Video (General Larry Platt, Pants on the Ground, American Idol (Season 9), FOX. January 2010)

www.google.com, www.freep.com, www.youtube.com (MontezMiller, imryanmac), www.newsweek.com, en.wikipedia.org, iamgenerallarryplatt.com, www.prisonpolicy.org

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