Monday, April 14, 2008

Sagging Ordinances the Latest War on Black Male Dress Styles

Across the United States a growing number of cities have either created or are proposing sagging ordinances to criminalize the sagging pants dress expression popularized and worn by many Black male youth and young adults.

The general rationale for the sagging ordinances is to address inappropriate dress, indecent exposure, and a display of immoral character. Regarding morality and dress, it is a distortion to connect clothes to ethical behavior; white-collar criminals who are overwhelmingly white wear suits and ties!

Beyond these subjective rationales the Greater Detroit Michigan Chapter of Concerned Black Men (GDMCBM) in Pontiac oppose the sagging ordinances as racist, a form of racial profiling that targets and criminalizes the dress expression of young Black males.

GDMCBM acknowledges it is one thing for a school, business owners or government buildings to have dress codes, however it's another issue for a City to enact ordinances that particularly fine young Black males who wear sagging pants in public.

From our perspective sagging ordinances, the 'war on dress', is similar to the so-called 'war on drugs'. Young Black males would be targeted for sagging violations; harassed more, fined more, and jailed more. The mandatory sentencing laws passed by Congress in the late 1980's provided for far more hasher punishment for crack offenses than for powder cocaine. This selective legislation war on drugs policy guise was actually a war on Black males.

According to data over 80 percent of those arrested for crack offenses have been Black males. For us, it is not a case of liking or disliking the sagging pants dress trend, it's not a preference issue; it's an issue of racist dress repression.

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