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Saggy Pants Ban In NYC Schools? Taking Matters a Step Too Far


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The New York City Schools Chancellor is considering whether he will accede to a state senator’s wish to ban saggy pants in the nation’s largest school system. It would add the New York City schools to a growing list of municipalities that have decided to turn the infuriating fashion statement of too many young black males into a crime or a violation. While I can certainly understand the sentiment, I can’t help but to feel that veering into this territory—at a time when a third of black men in this country are ensnared in the criminal justice system—is taking things a step too far.

After all, what we’re talking about is something as simple as asking boys to pull up their pants. Leaning on the legal system or the police to do it just feels so weak, so…powerless. As the father of a black male teenager, I can’t expect the courts to do something that’s supposed to be my job.

According to a column he wrote in the New York Post, New York State Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn has been lobbying New York Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to institute a ban on saggy pants for the one million students in the city school system. The column says Walcott told Adams that he would look into the legalities to see if a ban could be imposed. Adams, a former New York City police officer, called his Brooklyn district “ground zero” for saggy pants.

Florida and Arkansas both have statewide bans against saggy pants for students, while two towns in Louisiana passed laws to put saggy pants offenders in jail and force them to pay fines of up to $500.

I must confess that the sight of a man or boy wearing pants so far down his ass that the entirety of his drawers is visible gives me such a strong, viscerally disgusted reaction that when I see it I have to stop myself from slamming on the brakes, stepping out of my car and plucking the idiot upside his head so many times that he won’t remember his name. When my son went through the saggy pants stage, we fought about it on an almost daily basis—and his pants weren’t even sagging very far. But he was not going to cross the threshold of my household—either coming or going—with his underwear visible. Under no circumstances was that acceptable to me. Eventually he pulled his pants up—probably a combination of maturity and wanting to shut up his dad.

(I understand that if nearly 70 percent of black children are being raised in households without a father, most boys won’t have the luxury of an authoritative dad laying down a saggy pants ban. That leaves the job to Mom, and to the boy’s extended family, and to the males and authority figures in his community, coming together to let him know that so much more is expected of him than showing his ass to the world.)

But saggy pants are not matters for the criminal justice system to adjudicate, or for the schools to criminalize. Black boys already have too many strikes against them. Let’s not put a crime or ban on the books targeted specifically at them, tracing yet another bulls-eye on their backs, when their main problem is the failure of the grown men in their lives to step up and do their jobs.

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  1. March 16, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    big ced you need to check out this artist “AYO DRIVER” KID’S HEATROCK!!!

  2. March 16, 2012 at 3:24 PM
  3. Michelle Knight
    March 18, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    As a Black Female, A Younger & Older Sister of Black males, a Mother of 2 Daughters, the Grandmother of both a Granddaughter & Grandson, I do NOT see a problem with a law or several if need be against saggy pants! I Would however like to interject that if the laws are put into place, I am quite suree that they would NOT, apply to Black males ONLY! If these boys fully Understood where this “Fashion-Faux Paux” originated maybe they would think twice about degrading themselves & society at large by strolling around doing the ever-necessary Penguin-walk they have to use to assist in keeping their sagging pants above their knees! Either way you look at it, the sagging pants look was a product of the Infamous Department of Corrections {1.} Inmates were NOT allowed to have belts, thus sagging pants on anyone who was NOT interested in wearing a tighter uniform. {2.} Sagging pants were an unspoken advertisement of availability for sexual liasons from inmate-to-inmate & inmate-to-C.O!!!!! Personally if I just had to see some boxers I could go to the store & check out boxers, {that way there is almost a guarantee they are clean, too!!!!!”NO RESPECTFUL OR RESPECTABLE MAN WILL GO AROUND WITH HIS UNDERWEAR SHOWING!!!!!!!!!! WHY NOT JUST WEAR HOSPITAL GOWNS AS A WARDROBE?

    • amiwright
      March 19, 2012 at 8:52 AM

      Love this response.

    • behjdawg
      May 8, 2012 at 1:18 AM

      you interject by laying out the excuse of department of corrections and if i can politely interject you regarding your reasoning. what race populates prisons the most? yes, black males. whether in prison or in the hood, this came from the black race so although i agree with you that it shouldn’t be applied only to the black race…the vast majority of ‘saggers’ and where this originated from..came and are from the black race

  4. amiwright
    March 19, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    I don’t have a problem with what they are trying to do. My problem is with this statement “It would add the New York City schools to a growing list of municipalities that have decided to turn the infuriating fashion statement of too many young black males into a crime or a violation.” Are there only black males in this school. I walk and drive the streets everyday and I see white males wearing the same style and it looks just as disgusting.

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