The above picture was posted by a Friend on Facebook. This friend is a college educated black woman from Texas. I would estimate her age to be in her late 30s-early 40s (Context is King as always). Her Facebook post went on to lament the loss of self-respect so many black men have undergone in the past several decades. I couldn’t agree more. But I think the problem extends beyond young African-American men.
What do you see in the photos above. The men on the left are young and wearing clean modern (at the time) clothing. They would be well received no matter where they went; the exceptions being the well documented racists that prohibited all blacks from entry or use of “White Only” facilities back in the era depicted.
The “men” on the right would be looked upon with suspicion no matter where they went. As they should be. They are clearly trying to look “Gangsta” or “tough”, if you will. And it’s not just the underwear. It’s the whole look…the tats, the bling, the attitude.
For the record I don’t “blame” the guys on the right for trying to present a “tough” image. I did too when I was younger. I’m a big guy. And when I was in my 20s I had a marvelous long black leather overcoat. I always had a moustache and frequently a thick goatee (as I do now). I wore my hair long, but not dangling below my shoulders. And I was often attired in cowboy boots. I thought I was quite the tough guy in a sort of
“Clint Eastwood” sort-of way. So I know the tough guy mentality. Having a sense of intimidation about you just by the way you look is kinda cool.
But these guys don’t bring Clint Eastwood to mind, or John Wayne
, or Sylvester Stallone
as Rambo, or Indiana Jones either.
All tough-guy characters from my youth I would have been happy to be compared to. They bring to mind criminals, hoods, gangsters. They look much more like Morgan Freeman from “Street Smart”
than “Se7en”; Denzel Washington from “Training Day” not “The Pelican Brief“. Society has gone too far. Instead of admiring the good-guy tough guy, we’ve gone to the bad-guy street smart, gun-toting tough guy as the model so many of our young people admire and want to emulate, both white and black.
Ten-to-twelve years ago my then teen-age white brother did his very best to disappointment our mother by wearing the baggy pants with underwear showing and hat turned backwards. He looked ridiculous, as everyone who puts on that sort of image does.
The baggy pants fashion-look stems directly from one source…criminals, more specifically prisoners. Prisoners would remove draw strings from sweat pants in order to have a ready choking weapon available whenever they needed. Then they would pass through the prison with one hand on their pants to keep them from falling down. On the streets the fashion gained popularity for similar practical reasons. The space created in the crotch of the pants was handy for storing guns, or drugs and not having a bulge in your pockets for all to see.
If, like me, you don’t want your kids to emulate criminals you, as a parent, have no one but yourself to blame if your boys wear such outrageous clothing and then act the part. As parent YOU buy the clothes most of the time. And even if you don’t you can tell your kids and even your young adults what you will tolerate. Tell them you will not tolerate them looking like hoods. A parent has so much power that too many of them fail to wield. And too often its in the false name of freedom, letting the kids learn and do what they want. But if you raise your kids to do what they want and they do bad and they hang with the wrong people we all know that they’ll be limited in their lives economically and socially as adults. So how is that freedom? Isn’t it best when they’re young to steer them to a set of paths that will expand their choices and thus their freedom when they’re older, when it matter’s most?
Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has mentioned research studies that reveal three things people can do that virtually guarantee a life devoid of poverty. First- work; get and keep a job. Second- graduate high school. Third- avoid having children until you are married. According to Santorum, and the studies he’s siting, do these three SIMPLE things and only 2-percent of us will spend any time in our lives in poverty. Don’t do them and you’re virtually guaranteed of struggles in your life, including some period spent in poverty.
Contrary to a dumb old saying you CAN judge a book by its cover. You can’t judge everything…but you can tell if it’s a used book, well-worn, well-read, old book, new book, long read or short read. If it’s a paperback or has a jacket cover on it you can see images that project what’s happening within the inner pages. In fact a lot of the images on paperbacks and book jackets reveal an awful lot about the story’s climax. You CAN judge a lot by a books cover.
So don’t blame the punks on the right for wanting to look “tough”. Blame them for not wanting to emulate tough guys that also happen to be good guys. And blame their parents and our society for not providing enough of them AND for being far too tolerant of the “bad”.
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