Resolved: “The low-slung style was inspired by the beltless pants worn by prison inmates. It spread through the hip-hop music community to urban neighborhoods and then to the suburbs. The style is predominantly worn by black youth.”
Somehow, this has become an irrefutable black truth. Just ask David Bositis, a senior political analyst for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank that focuses on issues related to black Americans. The quote above can be attributed to him.
A USA Today article published in October 2007 reported on various proposed or passed bans on the baggy pant in eight U.S. states. That’s right, folks. Local law enforcement is gradually receiving carte blanche to start ticketing and fining folks for not wearing their pants “properly.” The article asserts, “The movement is fueled by growing worries among lawmakers that sloppy dress by America’s youth could be related, no matter how indirectly, to delinquency, poor learning and crime.”
And while that’s pretty offensive and egregious, considering that even though a significant number of Whites in both urban areas and suburbs sag too, it’s obvious “lawmakers” are after the African-American with this one, we’re a little more disturbed by Bositis’ claim above, as well as Atlanta City Councilman C.T. Martin’s quote: ‘”Bill Cosby started this conversation, and we let him down,” Martin says, referring to the comedian’s controversial criticism of the parenting skills, grammar and values of poor blacks.’
Reporter Laura Parker also adds that Martin, “says he’s trying to raise standards and instill values in today’s youth.”
Here are the problem points:
A.) When are we going to come up with some sort of substantiated source proving concretely and definitively that the “low-slung pant” is a trend that originated in prison, instead of just passing it around as common knowledge and making everyone believe that all the brothers who wear their pants this way are either ex-cons or aspiring to future convictions? This simply doesn’t seem true, and it’s its own brand of racial profiling/stereotyping.
And since we’re calling for proof, we have to wonder how one would go about proving the validity of that information. How do you support the hypothesis that some dudes had beltless pants in jail, got released, still wanted to wear their pants that way, and subsequently started a decades-long phenomenon?
Who’s to say that there aren’t other reasons why men (and some women) would rather wear their jeans around their thighs instead of at their natural waists besides a solidarity to the “brothers doin’ bids?” If you have worn your pants this way (or still do), we really want to hear from you. Post a comment, stating your motivation.
B.) It’s baffling that Councilman Martin and Bill Cosby would attribute something as superficial as how people wear their pants to a lack of values and low standards. If a person’s fashion choices were a reflection on their morality and ethics, then all the celebrities profiled at GoFugYourself would be sociopaths.
When are we going to stop spreading anecdotal misinformation? Look where it leads. Eight states are in the process of implementing these bans. Eight. That means that more than 1/6 of this country has adopted this “baggy pants mean former or future criminality” logic. That’s serious, people.
It’s also cautionary.