I think it’s safe to say that when a school celebrates a makeshift holiday called, “Pull up your pants day,” we’ve lost the battle concerning our youth being respectful in school.
Plantation High School – who the hell named this school – in South Florida celebrated the day in honor of a speech President Barack Obama gave back in November 2008 in which he stated, “Brothers should pull up their pants.”
A local Wal-Mart supplied the school with 200 free belts to help the cause. And teachers said there were no incidents, adding that all of the students were on their best behavior.
Reading the article, reminded me about a statement I recently heard activist NYOIL make on Hot 97’s Street Soldiers a few weeks back. When he spoke about how respectable the young men and women behaved while participating in his Blackbird Fly Conference and Gala Event.
The young ladies dressed like princesses and queens in beautiful gowns, complete with crowns. And the young men who accompanied them dressed like young royalty, looking as sharp as ever in their rented tuxedos. It’s no wonder they carried themselves with a great deal of pride as they walked around.
If you’ve ever dressed like this yourself you’d understand that it affords you the ability to walk with your head held extra high, feeling like a million bucks, dressed in a way that often reflects on the inside who we’d always like to be on the outside.
Dressing in such a glamorous way often causes people to stop and stare, to pay attention to us as we enter or exit a room… and as a first impression, there is no better way to say, “I respect myself and I expect you to respect me the same…”
So it’s of no great surprise that with the young men of this next generation walking around like penguins, in a clumsy-like shifting from side-to-side, trying to keep their pants up walk, they look every bit the buffoonish way they often seem to act.
They’re behavior is simply mimicking the dress code they’ve adopted from the penitentiary system.
I myself remember walking around my cell when I was 15-years-old without a belt and no shoe laces, trying to find another way to hang myself so that my mother wouldn’t beat me senseless for getting caught writing graffiti.
But for me there really wasn’t anything cool about it… And I never found a reason to bring that style home with me… granted my 12 hour bid wasn’t long enough for me to become accustomed to the fashion, but you get the meaning. I didn’t see being arrested as a badge of honor the way many do in our inner-cities.
Being a part of the Hip Hop generation often means we’re not quick to speak out against issues that can be perceived as, “Selling out…”
The Stop Snitching campaign is a wonderful example of just how far we’ll go to keep shut about behaviors killing our neighborhoods, because we don’t want to be seen as taking the side of the law, who is often seen as not on our side.
But there are times when we have to stand up and say, “Enough is enough…” And for me personally this is one of those times when I have to use my voice to make that statement.
I don’t believe in censorship of any kind, but I also shouldn’t have to walk down the street with my young daughters while staring at the ass or dirty draws of some young wannabe thug.
I don’t believe in policing what people wear, but I do believe in the indecency laws on the books that should prevent me as a father from having to stare at some young mans boxers.
I’m not interested in seeing if you’re wearing Calvin Klein, Fruit of the Loom, or Hanes underwear young brothers. It’s time for you to pick up your damn pants and have some respect for the young ladies and for that matter the older ladies in your community… As a mater of fact it’s time for you to have some respect for yourselves.
New York State Senator Eric Adams has recently launched a campaign to “Ban the Sag,” by placing six billboards all over Brooklyn that read, “Raise your pants… Raise your image,” and “We are better than this…” And frankly I agree not only with his message, but with his campaign to pass a bill that would make the practice of indecency in our streets illegal.
I understand that some might say this is just another way to invite aggressive policing into our communities. But in my humble opinion this isn’t about fashion, this is about asking our communities to dress appropriately and to respect the young ladies we have walking around these same neighborhoods we’re aiming to change for the better.
How can you have a daughter and think this is acceptable? And as a man in your community how can you condone a dress code that you know those emulating will never have a chance of being taken seriously… that they’ll never have a chance to land a decent job.
Make no mistake about it… this isn’t about dressing in a manner that we don’t believe to be fashionable. This is about combating a way of life that spells nothing but failure for those who adopt it for themselves.
This is about being a responsible adult… and telling the youth that they need to respect themselves enough to pull up their damn pants.
Ivan Sanchez is the author of Next Stop: Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx (Touchstone – Simon & Schuster, 2008). The book is the first memoir released by a major publishing house written by a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Sanchez is also the co-author of It’s Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop’s First Latino DJ (powerHouse, 2009). He was awarded the National Novel honors for his first fiction offering and is currently working on several new books about NY Latinos. He is also the co-host of Rebel Radio on Urban Latino Radio.