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'No More Sagging' Pants Campaign Hopes Obama Style Will Catch On

Black Voice News.com, News Report, Chris Levister Posted: Mar 31, 2009

Communities all across America have been on a mission to change the casual style sagging pants and foul language of some young men and teens since President Barack Obama made an adverse national plea for brothers to pull up their pants during a televised Q&A in November. Just before Election Day, Mr. Obama appeared on MTV and took a question about laws in some cities that ban the popular street look. Those ordinances, the president said, are a waste of time. Brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. Whats wrong with that? Come on, he said adding Some people might not want to see your underwear, Mr. Obama said. Im one of them. The style was popularized by Hip Hop artists and originated in penal institutions, where inmates are denied belts and string to prevent strangulations.

In support of the Presidents plea, community, business, education, and faith based leaders have launched the No More Sagging campaign led by bestselling author activist and television talk show host JL King.

The mission of the No More Sagging campaign is to promote progression rather than prison and individuality with integrity. The campaign encourages young men to dress with a positive purpose and put forth an image of self respect and decency. Riverside No More Sagging advocates Jamal Dodson, Ed Motley, and Carol Sharp think Mr. Obamas public condemnation of sagging pants as well as his stylish mode of dress will influence urban fashion across America.

During the presidential campaign when Ebony Magazine ran a cover photo of Mr. Obama wearing cool sunshades, it touched off a run on the publication and created a nationwide bump in sunshade sales. Framed reproductions of the cover appeared in art galleries, sold during the inauguration and were hocked at swap meets across the country.

At the moment the president is one of the most recognized and admired persons on the planet, said Sharp. Hes got impeccable style, finesse and brains. How he dresses and how he conducts himself casts a long shadow. Social worker Jamal Dodson who wore sagging pants as a college student, says expecting a young man to change his behavior because the president wants him to hitch up is missing the point.

Many of these young men grow up fatherless and poor. They are angry at their fathers they are angry at the world. They want human attention. The message here is under the sagging pants there is rage hard core - indecency. But the issue isnt merely about indecency.

And its not as simple as telling someone to cover themselves as several municipalities have learned. When Birmingham considered joining other cities among them Dallas, Atlanta and Baltimore that has either passed ordinances banning sagginess or discouraged its practice, lawmakers faced a barrage of criticism and the threat of lawsuits over civil rights violations.

Normally, saggy pants are worn by young men and teens, most though not all are Black. Its a fashion associated with hip-hop music and urban lifestyles that holds a deep importance to some in the Black community. Trying to separate those facts from the simple argument of public decency is impossible, explained civil rights attorney Tony Coleman.

Coleman says most of the cities with bans or ordinances discouraging sagging have extremely high murder rates and are struggling with rising Black-on-Black crime.

Others argue the issue is a Pandoras Box that raises First Amendment questions of racial profiling and accusations of racism and the unfair targeting of a citys low income, inner city youth.

Dodson hopes the No More Sagging campaign will reignite the national call for more parental guidance and discipline in the homes of young men.

The campaign mirrors the lifestyle and elegant portrayal of Mr. Obama through a series of full color 18 x 24 artwork reproductions. A series of interactive workshops teaches the fundamentals of fashion trends of the hip-hop era, clothing messaging and education. King created the No More Sagging campaign to serve as a catalyst to change the fad. The idea was hatched the result of a focus group of 10 young men 17 to 25 years old, being a father with two sons, a uncle to nephew(s) and a mentor.

King said the ($10.00 USD) No More Sagging posters are a must for community outreach groups, schools, churches, detention centers, employment offices and associations.

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