A Call For Racial Understanding

I don’t think this blog has any black readers, but in case one happens along I’d really appreciate an answer to the following question:

What is the deal with the sagging pants?

At some point in the early nineties, for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom, black people decided that this was a good look:

Lookin' good, fellas.

Lookin' good, fellas.

In general, black fashion is very fluid, changing quickly with the times.  But here we are, 15 years later, and it’s only gotten worse.  Every time I go downtown I encounter several young men whose pants are so low that they have to shuffle around like penguins.  Given the obvious practical drawbacks and utter ridiculousness of this style, one wonders what keeps it going.  I’ve come up with three possible explanations; I don’t find any of them particularly convincing, but they’re all I’ve got.

1) More efficient shitting.  When you’re prairie doggin’, each piece of clothing between your ass and the toilet increases the probability of skid marks or, in the worst case,  an inside-the-pants assplosion.


"You know why I like you, Harry? 'Cause you're a regular guy."

To test this hypothesis, I propose a nationwide study to determine whether black people have cleaner underwear than other races.  Grant writers, this is your chance.

2) Better underwear display.  What’s the point of buying expensive Tommy Hilfiger drawers if you can’t show them off?  By the way, I claim that any guy who buys underwear that comes in anything other than an economy-size plastic bag is a homosexual.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

3) Certain gazelles exhibit an unusual behavior known as “stotting“: when the animal sees a predator, it jumps repeatedly into the air, deliberately putting itself at a disadvantage.  Evolutionary biologists believe that stotting signals to a predator that the gazelle is healthy and therefore not worth chasing.

This gazelle wears its pants WAY low.

This gazelle wears its pants WAY low.

Perhaps allowing one’s pants to sag sends the signal, “I’m such a good fighter that I can afford to practically immobilize my legs, so don’t even bother messing with me.”  This hypothesis could be tested by looking for an inverse correlation between physical fitness and pant height among black men.  I’m taking this to the NSF.


12 Responses to A Call For Racial Understanding

  1. einam says:

    “As the 1990s came to a close, oversized was still the size of choice, be it denim or cargo pants. The gangsta style of wearing pants so low that underwear shows persists today. Reportedly, the practice comes from prisons, where belts aren’t allowed due to potentially lethal uses [source: CNN].”


    “Sagging pants was never meant to be fashionable. Prisoners wear their pants this low because belts are a popular way to commit suicide by hanging oneself, to hang others, or to use as a weapon in fights. Prisoners are also not allowed to have shoestrings for the same reasons. But there is an even more obvious reason why pants are sagging in prison. If the pants are below a man’s bottom, it is to introduce to other men that he is homosexual. As Eazy E once said about women in skirts, “For easy access, baby.””

  2. Dan says:

    I am skeptical of the first hypothesis. I am white and I never wear a belt; my ass does a good job of keeping my pants up. Given the tendency toward more pronounced posteriors among people of African descent, sagging pants should be a non-issue. The second explanation is also unlikely, but somewhat more plausible; indeed, black fashion seems to derive a lot from gay culture. See West, Kanye.

  3. Jacob Glick says:

    I love this post, this is great. Keep them coming.

  4. Damien says:

    YEAH! Great post man. This world needs more people with the courage to both insult black people over the internet, and profess their love of jeff daniels movies targeted to eight year olds. Yeah! keep them coming buddy!

  5. Jacob Glick says:

    I don’t see how this post insults black people. All it does is poke fun at a silly fashion trend that clearly deserves it. And if you don’t like “Dumb and Dumber,” well, that’s just sad.

  6. josh says:

    Does penis length figure into this at all? I’m just sayin’….I’m not sayin’

  7. osk says:

    Now, I’m 19 and I don’t totally get sagging THAT low either. However, I dont consider showing about the first inch (which is usually enough to show the brand/label) sagging, and most do. THATS annoying, because it’s just like when girls wear another shirt underneath to accent the first. But sagging THAT low is something else. Like dumb.

  8. Nick says:

    When I was in the 8th grade, my school principal made a public announcement in the auditorium to address the sagging pants issue. He informed all the students (aside from those skipping class, of which there were several) of how the trend originated. I distinctly remember him saying, “So unless you want people to know you tryin’ to get punked in the ass, keep your pants up. I’m tired of givin’ y’all rope.” Apparently he wasn’t tired of paying for it, as there were 4 teachers waiting outside with handfuls of cut lengths of rope to force offending pant-saggers to wear.

  9. Soulitude says:

    *Saggin…S-A-G-G-I-N…Now, spell it backwards! ~ Les Brown, African American motivational speaker

    I heard motivational speaker Les Brown say this during a presentation. I gasped at the reality hitting my face when heeding to his command. One wiktionary entry defines the pejorative word “nigger” [nigga] as A person of Negro descent who acts in an unapproved manner ( http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/nigger). As an African American female, I COMPLETELY disapprove of this fashion style (btw, African American styles do NOT derive from gay culture, thank you very much Dan. Most often they’re derived from a cultural cue (in this case prisons), functionality, spirituality, or sheer creativity).

    If life reflects art reflects life. Saggin pants is a fashion statement that reflects the state of mind of many of our men.

    They have lost their jobs, home, children, cohesive communities, positive value systems, positive social mores, identities…Many have been and are continuing to lose hope.

    No matter how tight they pull their belts or pocket strings… No matter how many times they pull up their bootstraps (referencing Booker T. Washington), Many ask themselves:

    ‘What’s the use? What else is there to lose, when we are left with nothing but the clothes on our back. Hell, we feel as though we’re losing them too.” With everything else, they’re losing the one thing they have left…dignity.

    Saggin pants remind me of the days when mothers would put oversized clothes on their children so they’d grow into them. Seeing chronologically grown men in oversized clothes means there is a serious disconnect in their psyche. They still see themselves as boys…and the teen boys see themselves as babies. Below is the monologue from John Singleton’s screenplay, “Baby Boy” that speaks to my point:

    “There’s this psychiatrist…a lady named Dr. Frances Cress Welsing [An African American psychiatrist].

    She has a theory about the black man in America.

    She says that because of the system of racism…

    …the black man has been made to think of himself as a baby…

    …a not yet fully formed being who has not realised his full potential.

    To support her claim, she offers the following:


    …what does a black man call his woman?


    Second, what does a black man
    call his closest acquaintances?

    His boys.

    And finally, what does a black man call
    his place of residence?

    The crib.”

    As serious a matter as is the N-word, saggin denotes something seriously wrong in our society — many African American men feel that they are at their all time low.

  10. TORTHEL I says:

    Saggin Pants

    Pass this on to Our Youth, Our Parents, Our Black Men and Women.

    Letter from a college student

    The other day, a friend of mine visited me in the lobby of my dorm just to chat while her laundry was drying. As we were chatting, two young freshmen came by. One of the 2 boys wanted to ‘talk’ to my friend (as in date). She asked him how old they were, and both of the boys replied 18… My friend and I both laughed hysterically because we are both 22 years old.

    After my friend left, the young men were still hanging around and one wanted to know how he could gain her interest.

    The first thing I told him to do was to pull up his pants! He asked why, and then said he liked saggin’ his pants. I told him to come over to my computer and spell the word saggin’… Then I told him to write the word saggin’ backwards.

    S-A-G-G-I-N = N-I-G-G-A-S

    I told him the origin of that look was from centuries ago. It was the intent of slave owners to demoralize the field workers by forbidding them to wear a belt as they worked in the fields or at any other rigorous job. In addition, men in prison wore their pants low when they were ‘spoken for’. The other reason their pants looked like that was they were not allowed to have belts because prisoners were likely to try to commit suicide. And, saggin’ pants prevents you from running. We as young Black people have to be the ones to effect change. We are dying. The media has made a mockery of the Black American. Even our brothers and sisters from Africa don’t take us seriously. Something as simple as pulling up your pants and standing with your head held high could make the biggest difference in the world’s perception of us. It is time to do right by ourselves. We need to love and embrace each other. No one is going to do that for us. It all comes down to perception. What people perceive is what reality to them is. We have to change not only the media’s perception of us, but we need to change our perception of ourselves. Remember all eyes are on you Black Man. All eyes are on you Black Woman. All eyes are on your Black Child. People point the finger at us and expect us to engage in negative and illegal activities, to manifest loud, boisterous behavior, to spend our hard earned money in their stores, buying goods we don’t need, or really want. We have allowed not only the media, but the government and the world to portray us as a ‘sub-culture. They have stripped our culture down to the point where the image of Black people is perpetuated as rappers, athletes, drug users, and consumers of junk food, expensive tennis shoes, expensive cars, expensive TVs, cell phones and not investing in homes for our families. We are so much more!!!!!!!

    To all our Black Men: It’s time to stand up. There are billions of Black Women who want to do nothing more than worship the ground that you walk on. We are so in love with your potential. We want to have your back, we want to love, support and cherish every ounce of your being. But with that you have to show that you are willing to be the head of our households. You have to prove yourselves worthy of our submission. We need you to be hard working…..Not a hustler. We need you to seek higher education, to seek spirituality. We need you to stand! And trust us; we will have your back. We know that it gets hard. We know you get weary. Trust and believe that there is nothing that a Black Man and a Black Woman can’t handle with GOD on their side.

    To all our Black Women: It is also time for you to stand up. It is time for you to stop using our bodies as our primary form of communication. It is time to be that virtuous woman that Proverbs spoke of. You cannot sit by the wayside while our men are dying by the masses. You are the epitome of Black Love. It starts within you. You need to speak with conviction to let not only our Black Men know, but the world, that you are the Mothers of this world. You are so powerful. You are so beautiful. You need to love and embrace every blessing God has given us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

    For all our Black Children: We need to love them. We need to teach them. We need to stand up for them. We need to protect them. We need to show them that there are no ‘get rich quick’ schemes. We need to tell them that they WILL die trying if they submit to a life of crime and deceit. We need to teach our children that no one will love them the way we can. And being a basketball player, a rapper, or a drug dealer is not reality. It’s not realistic and only a small percentage of people ever make it as a rapper or professional athlete. We need to teach our children that we can be more than rappers and athletes. We can be the owners of these sports teams. We can be the CEO’s of OUR fortune 500 companies. We need to believe in literacy.

  11. Gorex says:

    Now, that’s a wrap!!! TORTHEL I, you nailed it! I could not have said this any better.

    I am a black man in the US but migrated from West Africa. I was floored by the way some young African Americans carried themselves, saggin pants included. My perception of the African American man was determined in my first few weeks up here.

    However, I knew there was more to it than meet the eye. I set out to search for and learn from successful, professional African American men (yes, there are LOTS of them) and my perception changed. The media would not portray that as it is not news. Showing a black man in America that is a fund manager in a fortune 500 company will not make Nike or AT&T shell out $3mil/min for a commercial on their global networks.

    What does this mean for the black man (myself included), we have to work harder. As a young black professional, the only black in my department of about 50 individuals, I know I stand out right of the bat. It is left to me to re-shape people’s perception of me. I will not attempt to blame anyone but me. I have to look at it like half of the work is done already because I am noticed right away, so what I do from here on is what defines (or re-defines) people’s perception of ME and perhaps any other black man they come in contact with.

    I have a 7yr-old son. I ask him what he would like to be when he grow up, then I show him successful black individuals in that profession or trade. None of them with pants saggin… For me, it was easy…the 1st pilot I knew was black, the first judge I knew was black (my dad), the first medical doctor I knew was black, the first president I knew was black. I was not faced with this stereotypes my son is faced with now where most of the successful black people they see on TV, print and electronic media are either athletes or Hip-Pop and R&B artists. Those images erode peoples hope and it is not their fault. We have to instill some values and principles in our children to let them possess, without an iota of doubt, a grounded self-esteem and knowing that the only thing between them and their goals is ‘THEM’…not the white man, nor the system, nor America.

    I will like to conclude by saying thanks to whoever started this post. Believe it or not, this culture is equally jaw-dropping to black america as it is to everyone else. I believe it is a collective issue. As you may have noticed, which youth are beginning to dress like this now…

    This culture is the symptom of a broken down value system in America.

    P.S. Excuse any typos as I was writing this and helping my son with his home work t the same time.

    Cheers everyone.

  12. Gorex says:

    I meant to say “WHITE” youth are beginning to dress like this now…

    in the paragraph below:

    I will like to conclude by saying thanks to whoever started this post. Believe it or not, this culture is equally jaw-dropping to black america as it is to everyone else. I believe it is a collective issue. As you may have noticed, which youth are beginning to dress like this now…

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