To sag or not to sag

Some call it an epidemic. Others call it a freedom of expression. Some just don’t care. Wearing sagging pants has become the norm for many young African American men, whichever side of the issue they take. Sagging, as defined by Wikipedia, is “a fashion trend for wearing pants below the waist to expose one’s boxers, practiced by males.” Sagging has been linked to prisons, where some inmates were not given a belt to hold up their pants. Walking around Grambling State University’s campus today, one can almost instantly see a male student wearing sagging pants. One freshman is content with his style of dress, which includes sagging. “I don’t like my shorts above my knees,” said Justin Woodard. The reaction to the sagging pants fashion is mixed. “It’s a freedom of dress,” said Kimberly Monroe, a Grambling State senior. “You should be able to wear what you want to wear.” Tiffany Wells, however, disagrees – somewhat. “It’s cute to a certain extent,” the junior said. “If it’s too low where I can see your underwear, then that’s not attractive. I like more of the Kanye West type.” One freshman doesn’t like the style at all. “I think it’s sloppy and trifling,” Jiordelysah Lewis said. “It’s a bad image of our black men.” However, some women say they will consider dating a man whose pants sag. “I don’t judge people on how they dress,” Monroe said. “I judge people on their character. Who is to say that person may not be the next president?” Wells said she would date someone who sags, but she still has a standard that they must follow. “If I can see his underwear, no,” she said. “I’d at least have him to pull it up.” One faculty member has admitted that he hates sagging. “I’m 100 percent on the other side,” said Tegitra “T.K.” Thomas, head coach of the Grambling State golf teams. “I don’t like it at all. I think Grambling would be a better institution if we require more out of our students. When I see that, I don’t see higher learning.” Audrey Warren, adviser to the Student Government Association, also has seen sagging pants and does not like them. “It’s crazy,” Warren said. “It’s disgusting. Nobody wants to see that.” Many cities don’t want to see them, either. More city governments are passing laws against “sagging.” Atlanta Councilman C.T. Martin recently proposed an ordinance that outlaws “exposed boxer shorts, skivvies, thongs, and bra straps.” The proposal has received both negative and positive responses. One of the negative ones came from hip-hop artist Young Joc. “That’s [crazy],” Joc told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s attacking people’s freedom of expression. . . . This is targeting a certain group: young black males.” Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, agrees. “This is a racial profiling bill that promotes and establishes a framework for an additional type of racial profiling,” said Seagraves, who is white. One city already has such an ordinance. In Mansfield, La., about 100 miles from Grambling, offenders can be fined $150 plus court fees or subjected to up to 15 days in jail. The law was passed unanimously. The town council in Delcambre, La., about 210 miles south of Grambling, passed an ordinance that carries a fine of up to $500 or six months in jail for exposing underwear in public. A similar law in Shreveport, La., went into effect on Sept. 13. There, the first offense, if convicted, results in a maximum fine of $100 plus up to one eight-hour day of picking up trash or other court-approved community service, according to the Shreveport Times. The penalty goes up to $150 for a second-offense conviction plus up to two eight-hour days of picking up trash or community service. Convictions on third and subsequent offenses would result in a fine of up to $250 plus up to four eight-hour days picking up trash or community service, the paper said. While the debate about whether these laws will hold up in court rages on, Grambling students have already formed their opinions. “Some people sag because their pants are to short or they are trying to fit in,” said Terrion Rogers, a senior. “When you sag, it’s disrespectful to you and to others around you.”