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Saturday, October 23, 2010

If you think the way they dress doesn't matter...

I read a very good article that speaks of how young black men feel pushed out of Tampa Bay schools.  No one is interested in their success.  They are being pushed through and pushed aside.  They are not treated as individuals they complain.  ... And their complaints are very true. 

One statement bugged me though.

Bernard Scott is the only person in his family who graduated and pursued
higher education.
But the 22-year-old said he still got rebuked by white professors and teachers who were more preoccupied with whether his pants were hanging low and he wore a hooded sweatshirt.
"I'm here, in college, and that's the only thing you're worried about?" said Scott, who attended Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg and graduated in May from Assumption College in Massachusetts with a degree in management. "The problem is not sagging. They're worried about the wrong thing."
True, he was at the college to get a higher education, and learning was far more important than what he had on.  But his how he presented himself was also important.  At 22 years of age, a young man should know that it is time to leave behind childish things and to dress like an adult.  Adults, trying to move forward into the business world do not wear sagging pants and hooded sweatshirts. 

Let's look at a couple of people people who sell hooded sweatshirts: 

Russell Simmons:  Hip-hop entreprenuer and owner of Phat fashions sells a great deal of sagging jeans and hooded sweatshirts geared toward teenagers, but the 53 year old media and fashion mogul is almost always photographed ina dress shirt and Jacket or sweater or vest.  He also wears a baseball cap 50% of the time, but that's about image.  People take him seriously though because he dresses like a man and not a sullen child.

Jay Z:  The singer rapper, and husband of superstar diva Beyonce is often seen wearing hooded sweatshirts and pants with just a little sag... on stage, or on vacation..  But you'd better believe that he knows when to put on a suit and tie too.  The 40 year old rapper, enterpreneur, partial owner of the New Jersey Nets, and co-creator owner of Rocawear knows when to dress for business and does it well.  Have you seen is Artful Dodger collection?

Is that too much to ask for our young men?  Dress like rap star wannabees when you are hanging out when your friends and even practicing your music skills, but dress like future business men in the classroom.

I am sorry, but as a black woman and the mother and aunt of young black men, nothing makes my eyes bleed more than to see pants buckled below the buttocks.  I can't have a serious conversation with a young man who is showing me his rear end.  I imagine many teachers have the same issue.

So while I understand the points of the young men who feel ignored and pushed out of schools, I offer you this challenge.  Dress like you are there for business and see if there is a marked improvement in the way you are treated.  If after taking that step, teachers are still ignnoring you, then you have every right to make a stink about it.

WalletPop Contributor


Mrs. C said...

The trouble with stories like this, though, is the perception. Were these children really treated differently and unkindly? Could that be a matter of their not dressing well, or could the teachers really harbour a racist attitude that doesn't quite show so directly as to be a fireable offense if you know what I mean. I've dealt with kids I just don't like and do the children pick up on that? I think they do.

Or there may be other things going on that would make the teacher think the child is rude or rebellious without that intention on the child's part.

Going further still, I can't help but notice that these sad stories usually feature very DARK children, while college ads and school district websites usually feature children of colour... but not very much colour. It's almost like they want a black person to look like a white person maybe while at the same time they're touting the diversity thing.

Meh, I would rather deal with an outright racist and know what's up!! :)

Ahermitt said...

Great points Mrs. C... I think I'll pick on THAT scab another time!

Marlis said...

white black, that unfortunate dress style is seen amongst people of both colors. I honestly find it hard to take anyone who chooses to walk with their derrieres exposed seriously. Girls too. I have seen less on my plumber. Don't you all too have the serious urge to go and pull up their pants like I do to my five year old when his pants go southward during play?

Why can't we go back to the fifties? pretty dresses, smartly dressed boys? No, we see people at the stores in pajamas, we see people were clothes leaving nothing to the imagination...

My mother taught me to remember that clothes play an important part in how we feel about ourselves. I would bet these young men wouldn't recognize themselves and feel amazing in a pair of well fitting jeans along with a nice shirt and t-shirt. Some nice shoes, and voila, success in the wings....

Marlis said...

'wear' not 'were'. sorry.