Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Saggin: Freedom or Entrapment?

While attending the July 4th Freedom Celebration activities, in the midst of my view I eyed several young and older African American men with their pants hung low or as we say on the streets “saggin.” Some men were shirtless others had on wife-beater tank tops or short sleeved shirts all coupled with their oversized jeans. Now I’m not against wearing jeans a little loose for comfort ability because let’s face facts I am not an advocate for skinny or extremely tight fitting jeans either, especially on men. Yes call me sexist but it is something about a man clothed in a perfect cut that is sexy. Yet I digress, as African Americans we have set the stage of many fashion trends from the over the top bell bottoms and platform shoes, to our revolutionary afros and dread locks, African medallions and dashikis to gangsta suits with Stacy Adams to Adidas Track suits and jerry curls to leather jacket with one glittery glove. African Americans have been the contributors and creators of many mainstream style trends. So it behooves me to wonder… In the midst of rise and fall of fashionable trends, why did the world continue with the fashion frontier of “Saggin?”

While I was teaching, an email was sent to me by a colleague from an anonymous college student who was fed up with the disorder and low level thought processes of wearing below the waist pants. The student discussed how some 18 year old freshmen were attempting to grasp the attention of her 22 year old friend. When the men asked how they could the girls attention, the student simply stated “Pull up your pants!” The student also enlightened the men on the origin of “saggin” pants. You see wearing the pants low originated in the American Prison System as inmates in that time were not allowed to wear belts or shoe laces for fear the items would be utilized as a weapon to commit suicide or murder. Thus and so if pants hung low the inmates really did not have a choice because of the uniform issued, and worst the choice became ritualistic that inmates became desensitized continuing the trend even after release from the federal institution. At one point it was rumored that men in prison used below the waist pants as a method to show sexual availability or lack thereof to other inmates. So I ask once again, why would the world embrace a fashion trend with such misguided, painful and deep roots? Why take a concept that entails a prison of the mind and body bringing it forth in celebration.

In this moment of Freedom where we believe freedom means feeling safe, secure and comfortable does below the waist pants truly display personal freedom. Oftentimes I see young men constantly pulling up their saggin pants just to walk, is that safe or comfortable? Is that free? Or are our youth so desensitized they no longer understand the concepts of Freedom? Freedom is order, Freedom is truth. Truth is Order. They say knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss. Are young men free from knowing the truth or are they blissful in arrogance of their ignorance? These young men are taking an institutionalized concept which was formulated to maintain order and applying it in a disorderly fashion. As my friend Ordena says “my mind can’t calculate that” lol. How in the world can one create order in disorder, that application is not possible, order and disorder cannot live in the same state of being – human or divine.

I say now is the time of education, revitalization, self-esteem and pride. Let us reclaim our youth and explain to them that just because a person walks around with their clothes ironed, shirts neatly tucked in and pants around the waist with a belt does not mean that person is a nerd or a geek or a wannabe or gay. Let us remind these youth that at one point in the prison mind wearing pants hanging low was considered a sign of homosexual activity. Being clean, orderly and comfortable is simply a measure of self-care. Presentation is everything, and actions speak louder than words. What our young African American men and women are presenting loudly is that they do not care anymore than to look as if they just stepped out of the bed of prison. Yes I did include our sistahs in this module as well for I cannot in good conscious let them off the hook as I have seen many walk around in public in pajama bottoms and low rise hip hugger jeans with underwear showing.

When I think of all those slaves who died attempting to gain freedom or all those men, women and children who died for equal civil right, it sickens me to know our children and some adults still desire to embrace a slave or imprisoned mentality of less than. We have an African American President and First Lady, African American heads of American Express and McDonalds Corp yet we still reside in a slave mentality. Take the guts of the pig and create chitterlings, take the crumbs of bread and fry our leftovers. In order to truly free ourselves from this mindset we must be armed with the knowledge of power, truth, love for selves, love for one another, love for that high source. Love is the vibrational energetic pattern that just IS: I AM and from that one proclamation all else will follow in order. If not then the cycle continues in disorder.

In an article by Abhijit Naik published in 2010, it was mentioned how lawmakers are curbing laws to cite the practice of “saggin” as indecent. The author goes on to state “Sagging pants history is an apt example of how an objectionable fashion trend can move on to become an illegal action, severe enough to attract some time in jail, which ironically, is where it all started.” This is where I say AH!!

Peace, Love, Bliss


1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I can't believe how common this "fashion statement" is, and it never fails to make me sick. Maybe I'm just getting old, but showing your underwear seems disrespectful to me.

    Great post!