I’ve a piece in The Root about the Morehouse dress code and Aliya S. King’s Vibe article. As I’ve indicated before, I’m squarely in the camp of people who believe that expressions of gender identity are far more fluid than what one wears or how one behaves. But I dug a little deeper and talked about some other problems with the dress code, as well:
…the dress code also bans baseball caps and hoods indoors, do-rags other than in residence halls and sagging pants. These bans may seem innocuous enough. After all, with all of the issues that young black men face today, why permit Morehouse men to wear items associated with criminal behavior?
The problem is this: By declaring popular styles to be inappropriate and focusing on a narrow version of respectability, Morehouse and those who support this kind of ban are merely reinforcing the idea that there’s something inherently wrong with young men who wear baggy jeans. But as Colorlines discovered, innocent young black men in the New York City neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn, get stopped and frisked constantly because they “fit the profile” of someone who committed a crime.
That “profile” often relies on two things — skin color and attire — and has almost no basis in actual criminal activity. Working to legitimize current fashion and self-expression within black communities and institutions could go a long way toward making these things more acceptable within society at large. Perhaps, instead of reacting to what others think, we should embrace street style and nontraditional gender expression as just more of the many facets of black folks.
You can read the rest here. And today on Twitter, this video of Morehouse men having a conversation about the Vibe article popped up. It’s definitely worth a watch.