Community Greens

People of all colors discussing evergreen ideas.

It Takes A Village: Are You Sagging?

Are you Sagging? Are you walking around with your pants below your butt? It could get you stopped and frisked and with the way police/urban youth interactions escalate, it could get you a case. Sagging, a fashion out of Hip Hop’s fascination with prison, has become a reasonable justification for arrest in some places. People who oppose hoodie profiling often about face when it comes to Sagging. A very indignant friend told me, “Young men wearing pants hanging off their butts should be arrested for indecent exposure”. She didn’t see the woman I saw Whale Tailing at a WNBA game (sagging and thongs) or the homeless guy outside, no underwear, showing about the same thing. Maybe it’s time we got a little closer to the argument.

How you wear your pants has always been personal expression. Now it’s who you are. Are you regular and want a cheek/crotch flattering cut? Are you skinny jeans? That’s hipster, whatever that is these days. Loose in the hips and thighs? Do you want or need a fuller cut, hmmm? Are you Sagging? That’s t.h.u.g. l.i.f.e. (remember Tupac Shakur) and has different meanings, east coast, west coast and in my hood.

I bought some jeans recently and of the 16 different combinations I looked at, yes 16, all of them started with waistbands below the waist, even the regular cut. Not perturbed by this lack of choice, I went for loose in the hips and thighs looking for that elusive room guys prize in pants. Great pants, until I realized they didn’treach my waist. They left my belly button on an island somewhere. It wasn’t snuggled above my belt. I had this weird sensation it was naked and alone. I felt I should be thrown out of the store, sort of like Adam and Eve after they had eaten the apple.

Then I got it. Urban Generation X (UGX) has a new swagger and Sagging is part of it. It’s a new attitude. Society is forever making impressions through culture. Take bopping. Bopping was an over-the-top expression of who we thought we were or who we hoped to be. Full of ourselves, ready to face anyone, it was not a head down, step off the curb, shuffle. It was the original end zone dance. It was the new black. It was a physical expression of change.

You saw it coming down the block. We practiced it. We mastered it. We owned it. It made us who we were. We didn’t have to buy anything. We didn’t have to own anything. You needed it to walk the hood. You needed it to walk the walk. The walk told the world we were ready to talk a new talk. And then there was Soul Train. A nationally televised cotillion of who we were. We all desired to strut our stuff on the Soul Train Line, at least once, for the world to see, Don Cornelius and Dick Clark, mano a mano.

Take that space below your navel and above your crotch and put a buckle there. Elvis Presley gyrating his was so bodacious girls swooned and eventually adopted hip huggers as their national attitude. Hippies took it far out man and added bell bottoms and tie-dyed shirts. Remember Matt Houston, the TV show. The opening sequence was a buckle shot of him walking for what seemed to go on forever. But eventually the bop and the low riding belt buckle thing were not commando enough. Not reflective of the potential jail time urban youth faced for their cultural defiance. When bopping and hip hugging bell bottoms, meet Hip Hop and human beat box, you get Sagging.

You’re not grabbing your crotch. That’s pop, not Hip Hop. Michael Jackson did that to death. But grabbing your pants and pulling them up has the same effect: attention to the thing touched but have you ever tried to walk Sagging? Try it. I’ll wait. Sagging is attitude, not a crime or even criminally efficient. The emphasis is on cool and trying to keep your pants up, not hiding, holding or carrying. Belt buckle emphasis is dead. Certainly, the belt isn’t doing anything. It not even rhinestone decoration anymore. Is Sagging the urban version of ” I’m about to show you my ass” or a fashion statement?

Grandma Walker always differentiated between work and business. Working men wore denims. You know, Levi/Wrangler men. Business men wore pants. My mom, Babe Ruth, didn’t wear jeans until she was over 40. By then, changing culture had caught up with her enough that she could wear a pair to a picnic (even though she never sits on grass). She is 92 and has never bought a pair of jeans. This isn’t in defense of Sean Jean waist banded underwear or pants below the butt. I‘m just taking an alternate look at the guy in the mirror next to me who’s pants are Sagging and trying to find a pair of jeans that fit.

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