Tuesday, September 21, 2021


Saggin’ pants: The truth behind them…

August 10, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) Battle Creek, Michigan – Last month on the 25th and 26th of July, I had the pleasure of participating in the Black Arts Festival in Kalamazoo, selling my books. For the most part it was a very enjoyable two days filled with music, good food, crafts and people just having a good time. The thing that made the two days a little irritating to me was seeing young black males with pants falling off their butts. This is not a knock against Kalamazoo because this “fashion statement” is here in Battle Creek and all over the country, unfortunately. This is a pet peeve of mine and I admit it’s my personal crusade. I can’t stand to see young black men dress so disgustingly, looking like thugs and thinking it’s cool. Listen up, young brother, no one wants to see your underwear and we really don’t want to see your butt!

Every generation has its own style and flavor. As a young man in my teens and 20s, our style was bell-bottom jeans and pants (on our waist), platform shoes and to reflect pride in our race, a big round Afro. If we weren’t sharp, Campbell’s didn’t make soup. I understand young people making statements and asserting their independence through their dress trends and styles, I really do, but what does this style really reflect?

Most people, myself included, think rappers started the trend of baggy jeans and pants falling and hanging off your waist, but Judge Greg Mathis says that’s not the case. According to his Honor, this trend started in prison as a result of inmates not being allowed to wear belts. Because their pants would hang and sag, this style came to be known as saggin’. When these young men would be released back into society, they brought saggin’ with them and other young black males in the neighborhood copied the style as something that says macho or cool. This is a prison thing, young man, is this something you want to identify yourself with? Do you want to be like criminals? That’s what saggin’ reflects!

Judge Mathis went on to say embracing prison practices creates a prison mentality. Case in point, I saw one young black man at the festival with pants down below his waist and a chrome replica of a .45-caliber pistol on the front of his jeans. What message is that symbol sending about him and what does it say about how he sees himself? Rappers made saggin’ popular and somewhat mainstream with our youth as well as with whites, Asians and Latinos, but what rappers didn’t do was start this trend. Prisoners did, and that’s who our young men are imitating by wearing their pants the way they do.

The young men who need to hear this won’t read this column nor will they care enough to listen to someone who did read it. Even though my words may fall on deaf, uncaring ears, I care enough about our young men to try to get just one to listen. Young black men, there are better role models to study than criminals and thugs. The black men in your family who go to work every day to a job they don’t like to take care of their families are more than worthy of your emulation. These are role models. You are better than wanting to be a thug and acting like a criminal, like you so hard. You come from kings and queens and you have the strength of warriors flowing through your veins. It’s not cool to go to prison or to imitate people who have been in prison, it’s just plain stupid!

Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt, Uncle, whatever the case may be, if any of you reading this column have a young man caught up in this mess, set him down and read this to him. Could be he doesn’t know what his saggin’ pants really represent and the lifestyle they reflect, and maybe now that he knows, maybe we can get him to pull them up.

SAGGIN’ PANTS

Pants hangin’ draggin’ on the ground

You think you cool

But you look like a fool

Crotch down by your knees

Walking like somebody that’s three

Can’t walk too fast or quick

Or the pants might slip

They don’t have far to go

Before there is a show

Your backside on display

Like that’s what we want to see today

A fad, trend, call it what you will

It’s prison culture embraced and that’s for real

Who told you this was cool or hip

Trying to talk and not trip

Criminals and thugs

Rats and bugs

All are undesired

And should be fired

From your thoughts and dress

Stop looking like a hot mess

Dress for success as the saying goes

Pants falling off your butt says prison clothes

Think more of yourself and stand up

Those pants draggin on the ground, pull them up.

Written By James J. Smith


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