(Unfinished Ramble #1) SAG AwardsPosted: November 27, 2017
Written July 26th 2016
I still remember the first time I purposely sagged my jeans. I was a sophomore in high school at Brooklyn Tech and I had a pair of jeans that were sized 34 in the waist but the length was like 29 or something. I had grown pretty much overnight and these jeans that used to fit me correctly were no longer the right length even though they fit my waist with the correct 90’s bagginess. So anyway, I liked the jeans and I wore them to school with a slight dip below the waist so that they didn’t resemble “high waters” and so no one would accuse me of having on “young” gear. Those were the negative colloquialisms we used for clothes that were too small back then.
I wasn’t trying to be cool but I did think that sagging my jeans intentionally was a bit out of my element. I recall people actually pointing out my inappropriate fashion statement as if they were helping me. Sagging was a style, but it was done mostly by people who were perceived as hoodlums, guys that just came home from jail, and rappers. When Treach said, “my pants always sag ’cause I rap my ass off…” I thought that was brilliant but it didn’t make me want to show off my boxers. When Jodeci took the stage and broadcasted their undergarments whilst going shirtless, that still didn’t influence me enough to mimic the trend. It wasn’t until I began rocking basketball shorts underneath my jeans that cinching my belt super tight around my waist became something I was cognizant of. New York weather forced me to throw shorts on almost every cold day of the winter and fall. It was almost impossible to keep the jeans tight so I let them hang a little bit. My underwear was never officially put on display but I was still considered a free-spirited rebel that got the side-eye from elders, adults, and anyone who wore their pantaloons the way they were intended to be worn.
Years later I became a hip-hop artist and watching Jay-Z and Nas parade around stages with their name brand boxer briefs being a featured part of their wardrobe probably subliminally sunk in my head and made me feel like I had to do the same. I was more conscious of the designer name adorning my waistline when I had a scheduled performance as opposed to days I did not. Fast forward to the present and I am working in education along with dabbling in music and I am around a plethora of youngsters daily that sag their jeans to an all-time low. I assumed this trend might go away one day but instead it has elevated beyond a point I could never imagine. In my days of sagging, we wore belts but they weren’t always the tightest fit. We didn’t sag with the intention of sagging, our pants were a part of our youthful ignorance and our embracing of a culture that did everything in its power to go against what society deemed as proper and grown-up. We wanted to be loud and obnoxious on the train, we made sure we went places in groups larger than four…and our clothing reflected the essence of the hard-edged, sometimes message-driven, and powerful music we loved.
So when I see a kid today with his boxers on display willingly, I must admit I’ve tried all types of tactics to get a response and hopefully spark a thought that would incite or “insight” change. From my mentions of inmates originating the style to insinuating that homosexuals prefer to sag to express availability…I’ve even offered designer belts just to see what kind of reaction I would get and I came to the same conclusion: why do I care?
I guess I care because I would want someone to tell my teenage self how foolish I looked. I care because as much as I hate when brown people are targeted by the law, it irks me even more that I am embarrassed when I think about how these young brothers must be viewed by the rest of the spectrum. I care simply because I have a son and one day there may some new fashion movement or hairstyle that will conflict with my ideas of what a young man should resemble and even though I am responsible for raising him, his influences will come from any and everywhere and my words will have to have true meaning and be guided by love.
I never imagined I would see young men wearing jeans without belts so frequently. And to take it a step further, they are making a sincere, concentrated effort to hold the pants up all day. I can’t count the number of dudes I see with a finger (mostly a pinky) stuck in their belt loop as they walk and in most cases, waddle to and fro. It makes me a little sad. So now I can only daydream evil thoughts of being one of these high school students. In order to combat the pants low revolution, assuming I would be in high school and anti-sag, I would surround youthful saggers with a crew of athletes and give all the ninth graders wedgies when they sag…or even better, we would just pull their pants down and maybe add a kick for the hell of it. Or oooh I just thought of this one, how about putting signs on their backs that suggest they want some action. You know, a sign that says, “I sag because I like balls” or “kick me if you see my drawers” or (I just thought of this one too) we would go around putting peanut butter on their boxers if they show. That would keep the ninth graders from sagging and then influence the culture of the school. But this is just my daydream that is 20 years too late. Clothing companies are probably designing jeans that are skinnier with a loose waist that somehow fall into place without the need for a belt. Maybe suspenders will come back in style but they can just be longer to hang down below the waistline. I think I just aged a year and a half while composing this so I’m going to stop soon because the 15-year-old version of myself is shaking his head telling me to let kids be kids. I agree with that sir but you were all about individualism, you were a trendsetter, and most of all you were too lazy to walk around with one of your fingers in your belt loop when there are so many other things to do with a pair of hands. It’s still hard to believe when I see it but that’s how fads and trends go. I just hope it doesn’t trickle down to another area of fashion and kids start rocking both arms out of their sweaters, or shoes halfway off, or belly shirts, or jackets on their shoulders…never mind. Sag your heart out young America (even though I’m very aware that this action is not limited to the youth), one day you will all be older mentally, and spiritually, and not only will your self-worth rise but so will your pantaloons.
That was where I stopped. A year later I’m not as bothered by young dudes winning the sag award every day. The kids might get on my nerves a little bit, but I understand that they want their jeans skinny and it is uncomfortable for these skinny jeans to be tight around the waist. This is the culture and society they were raised in. However, when I see adults, hip-hop artists, or any grown person of color showcasing their boxers purposely, I do get slightly perturbed and I secretly wish for a law that makes the action illegal. And right at that moment, I think about how many brothers would get arrested and harassed for the way they wear an article of clothing and I snap back into reality after calling myself an uppity negro in my head.