I was in Montgomery, Alabama recently and saw a billboard that said, Change is here, Pull Em Up. The sign featured an African American male pulling up his sagging pants. Billboards such as the one in Montgomery are cropping up all over across America as communities and legislators take action to make it a crime to walk the streets with your derrière exposed. I am glad for those communities that have taken action and I challenge others to do the same. I am tired of looking at the derrieres of our young men and some of our young women.
Where did we go wrong in allowing our young men to walk around like that? When I was a child such behavior would not have been tolerated. When I was a child we had respect for ourselves and our parents. Our self respect and the belts of our parents would not allow us to have such disregard for a basic value; dignity. When I see a young man with his pants hanging off and most times under his derrière I am overcome with sadness. I am sad for him because he does not have enough self dignity to be sad or ashamed for himself. I am sad and disappointed that his parents allowed him to leave their home undressed in such a fashion. I am sad that the young ladies who admire him, date him or encourage him have so little respect for themselves that they tolerate him showing them his behind. Young ladies you have a lot of power. Do not accept a man with saggy pants if you do not like saggy pants. Self respect begins with saying no, it begins with saying you deserve respect. If you don’t like looking at the crack in or the behind of a young man, do not accept the vision.
The trend of sagging pants is rumored to have started in the jails and prisons because inmates could not wear belts. The street is not the jailhouse, the stores have belts, and the Laundromats have machines so there is no excuse for sagging pants and dirty drawers. I am amazed that the young men who wear them don’t get ODR (off the derrière rash from the rubbing of the belt on their body parts as they try to keep the pants from falling completely from their bodies.
I wonder what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would have to say about such a display. Would such behavior be the character he referenced when he spoke of our day of equality? I wonder what Brother Malcolm would say? I wonder what our enslaved forefathers would say about the progress we have made and the dignity we display. I wonder if Harriet Tubman would be proud to know that the ancestors of those she risked her life to free through the Underground Railroad have enslaved themselves once again in disrespect and shallow thinking. I wonder what little Emmit Till would say to those with baggy pants as he looks down on them with his tortured face, still wearing his neatly pressed pants, shirt and shoes.
Our history, our struggle, our intelligence, or dignity our pride and our culture demand that our young people leave the trend of the baggy, saggy pants in the past. Our history demands that they pull them up, stand up and be the princes and Kings they were born to be. James Brown said say it loud I am black and I am proud. Michael Jackson said look and respect the man in the mirror. Pride demands that you take a stand for yourself and others will follow. Pride demands that you young man and young women, “Pull Em Up”. .