In the wake of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge‘s popularity, one man started something similar, but its message heads down a dangerous path of racial profiling; the Pull Up Your Pants challenge.
At times in this thing called “life,” you see something that makes you go, “oh, no he didn’t or only in the Land of the Free.” This is one such moment.
Charles R. Patrick hatched an idea that aims to somehow save black males from themselves and from becoming victims of racial profiling by police, but with one simple caveat; they must first pull up their sagging pants, according to Opposing Views.
The short 43-second YouTube video begins as if Patrick is gearing up for a parody of some kind. Donning bright-blue shorts and sagging pants, he begins the suspense by suggesting he has a kind of challenge of his own. Viewers soon realize that it is not a spoof at all.
Instead, Charles pulls up his pants, which marks the challenge. And in case you missed it, he feels obligated to repeat the challenge by pulling up his pants to, let’s say, traditional heights based of societal fashion rules.
Malik S. King, a U.S. Marine, helped to popularize the Pants Challenge by lending his voice to the conversation in a video shown above.
“We’re quick in our communities to talk about racial profiling, but what we don’t want to focus on is what we’re doing to contribute to the problem, even if just a little bit.”
“We need to start thinking about how we represent ourselves, how we talk, how we act, how we deal with police. We need to stop talking, acting, and living like thugs, and start talking, acting, and living like men. Stop making the conscious decision to fit the description.”
King’s premise, while admirable and worthy of praise in its scope, falls apart on a number of fronts.
First off, as indecorous as it may look to others, who are somehow offended at the sight of sagging pants or trousers that are too darn low, wearing them in that manner doesn’t necessarily equate to criminality as the Pull Up Your Pants Challenge suggests.
Why does the sight of a male — African American — as the video appears to target, with pants dangling off his derriere somehow mean he is a low-life, a thug? Why does another black man believe this video, which tends to place blame, will be received by its target audience? Finally, why does the choice in clothing dictates how law enforcement responds to its community of people they are sworn to protect? I submit to you that the latter question should concern us most.
This, mind you, is a country that allows an 18-year-old to join the Army to kick tail and take names, but return home and be denied a drink from a local bar. This is the same country that allows a 9-year-old to fire an automatic weapon at a gun range when they are far too young to own the thing — let alone control it from recoiling. And for further proof our values and imposed cultural sanctions send mixed messages, this is the same country that uniformly outlaws drinking while driving in all states, but does not have uniform laws that make it illegal to text while driving.
Somehow, we’ve allowed our inner-most prejudices to create a set of fashion rules that police use to legally profile would-be criminals. This so-called barometer acts as a sixth-sense that hones in on evil-doers aka those that are wearing their pants too low. Will pulling up one’s pants in the challenge resolve this phenomenon? Sadly not; the troubles run much deeper.
Justin Bieber wears his pants low all the time, but he’s only harassed by cops when neighbors complain about his wild house parties, and when he is caught speeding in his “you can’t afford this” car. Should Bieb’s take the “Pull Your Pants Up Challenge?”
Jay Z wears pants low on and off camera, but he is a regular at the White House and is married to one of the most beloved entertainers in the world.
Retired soccer player, David Beckam wears his pants off his hip occasionally and sports the “one-shirttail-in-one shirttail-out” look. His excuse? It’s only fashion. But what about a young urban child from Detroit or Chicago? Like Beckham, is it not a fashion-statement to look fashionably disheveled?
Furthermore, there isn’t a single headline that described a time when Lady Gaga was stopped by police, patted down and questioned when she went pant-less for the day. And NYPD turns its head to throngs of people stripping down to their skivvies during the city’s annual No Pants Subway Ride.
Somewhere along the way, our cultural norms have changed in terms of decency. I can remember a time when the sight of an elderly man wearing his pants low signified wisdom and longevity. Some opted for suspenders, but either way, it didn’t mean grandpa was a thug and was about to set it off.
Perhaps, television personality, esteemed professor and activist, Lamont Hill, laid out best why challenges that demonize males who don’t pull their pants up, send the wrong messages to those it seeks to rehabilitate.
Hill said the racial-based challenge “suggests that somehow there’s a connection between black male profiling and our pants sagging.”
“Before black people pulled their pants down, they were still being locked up. If we continue to tell young black men that they can behave or dress or otherwise demonstrate their way out of police oppression or police abuse, then we’re blaming the victim.”
Ironically, Professor Hill, at 16, sported low-hanging trousers, which doesn’t appear to have doomed him to a life of thuggery. Moreover, he pointed out that Caucasian students at his Ivy League school did so as well.
Bottom line; the Pull Your Pants Up Challenge is based on faulty reasoning. In other words, it suggests that A plus B results in C, which is reckless thinking and only upholds the stereotype placed on black men by those who practice racial profiling.
This form of institutional and cultural racism is biased in the sense that one of the requirements for singling out potential bad guys is the color of their skin, not the content of their character.
A more practical conversation and challenge to help foster a generation of law-abiding men would be to change the way we react to certain matters. Additionally, a top-down approach would better address the elements of criminality, truancy, drug use and addiction, unemployment and other social challenges.
This suggests that a partnership with parents, clergy, community leaders, Congress and law enforcement is established to help build solidarity among races and ethnic groups.
In the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge, to the Pants Challenge, I say, bah, humbug.
Only in the Land of the Free.
[Image via Bing]