Is Florida’s ‘Droopy Drawers’ Law a Form of Racial Profiling?

David A. Love, The Grio, May 10, 2011

The Florida legislature passed a bill last week that bans saggy pants in school, allowing for suspension or other punishment for public school students who show their underwear or “butt crack.” The sponsors of the bill–state Senator Gary Siplin (D-Orlando) and state Rep. Hazelle Rogers (D-Lauderdale Lakes)–are black. The legislation awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.

{snip}

And Florida is not alone. Last month, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe beat Florida to the punch by signing a bill that bans students from wearing clothes that expose “underwear, buttocks or the breast of a female.” Proponents believe the law will improve the learning environment and stem the violence caused by student competition over clothing styles. A similar effort in Tennessee failed in a state house subcommittee in April, a second attempt in as many years.

The town of Delcambre, Louisiana passed an indecent exposure ordinance in 2007 that prohibited the showing of one’s underwear. In Hahira, Georgia, the city council passed a law prohibiting people from wearing pants below the belt and revealing skin or underwear.

Last year a Bronx man was issued a summons by a police officer for disorderly conduct, and wearing “his pants down below his buttocks exposing underwear [and] potentially showing private parts.”

{snip}

And last month a Latino high school student in a suburb of Wichita, Kansas accused school officers of hitting him with a Taser and breaking his arm after he refused to pull up his pants.

These prohibitions sound like Victorian-era cross-dressing laws of the 1800s and early 1900s, which prohibited women from wearing pants and required that they wear dresses. {snip} The practice is associated with prison and gang culture, as inmates are not issued belts to prevent suicide attempts.

{snip}

Eric Adams, a New York State Senator, initiated a campaign with billboards reading “Raise your pants, raise your image!” The former police captain believes that young people will benefit from the style change. “You can raise your level of respect if you raise your pants,” said Adams. “When you raise your pants, you raise your character. When you raise your pants, you raise your grades, self-esteem and how you feel about yourself,” he added.

{snip}

But do we really need a law for this?

“Those that participate in these ridiculous and counterproductive culture wars are always out of touch with what’s cool and current,” said Giovanni “G. la Belles-Lettre” Turner, Soul Model Recording artist and University of Miami professor. Turner, who is also a Miami resident, views the Florida legislation as both an attack on hip-hop and a distraction.

“The authors of this bill clearly have not seen a hip-hop or neosoul music video or visited a Miami, Tampa, or Orlando high school in at least decade. If they did, they would know sagging pants fell out of fashion a long time ago,” he added. “So while this is an obvious assault on hip-hop culture and African-American culture, and I am offended, it is, nevertheless, a moot point. {snip}

Just to get to the heart of the matter, some black folks say that such laws amount to racial profiling, pure and simple. These laws, they suggest, are really a proxy for racial bias. Organizations such as the NAACP claim the bill is an example of the school-to-prison pipeline, and would increase dropout rates for black males.

To be sure, black and Latino youth are an easy target, as they are already the prime targets of America’s criminal justice system. More of them are in prison today than were in chains back in the days of slavery. Often shunned by society, scapegoated, and neglected, they are the fodder, the raw materials, if you will, for a prison-industrial-complex. Young men of color are associated with the practice of wearing saggy pants, and so this law is for them.

It smacks of the days of Jim Crow, when African-Americans were singled out for their so-celled “lawless behavior.” The Black Codes were enacted in the South to control the freed blacks through an unjust legal system, with crimes specifically invented for blacks, such as “vagrancy,” “mischief,” “insulting gestures,” “cruel treatment to animals,” and the “vending of spiritous or intoxicating liquors.” Criminalizing blacks for these phony crimes and compelling them do hard time, the Jim Crow laws stripped them of their voting rights, on purpose, in order to stop black political power dead in its tracks.

Not surprisingly, the anti-sagging laws come at a time when young people–particularly poor children and children of color–are increasingly criminalized. {snip} And while there are no jobs for them, there is plenty of room in the penitentiary.

{snip} As of 2006, 13 percent of black Floridians were stripped of their voting rights. This, as Florida lawmakers, who have received generous contributions from prison contractors, are ready to hand over as many as 14 state prisons to private enterprise.

This is all about so much more than droopy drawers.

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  • Irish in Paris

    I like it when young African men wear saggy pants – they’re not going to mug anyone if they can’t run.

  • Question Diversity

    There is a difference between laws allowing public schools to prohibit the “fashion” and laws prohibiting it in the general public. Public schools have a lot of latitude (no pun intended) to prohibit clothing styles, accoutrements, fads, etc., the fancy legalese phrase the courts have come up with is “distracting from the learning environment.” Laws about it in general are either unconstitutional (substantive due process), or if they’re not, they’re really tricky to enforce (cops must carry around rulers).

    As far as this bit about “racial profiling,” it maybe kinda going out of style among ghetto blacks, but more and more white wannabes are starting to sag their pants.

  • Guilty Liberal

    Droopy drawers racial profiling? Ha.

    No, you know what IS racial profiling?

    The TSA’s ‘poopy drawers’ inspections of the diapers of white toddlers in airports.

    Because for every suspicious looking Mohammedan the stop and frisk they better be able to point to invasive searches of one or more whites they known damn well aren’t terrorists to immunize them from charges of “profiling.”

    Anarcho-tyranny strikes again!

  • sbuffalonative

    Droopy drawers smacks of minstrel, shufflin’, and Stepin Fetchit. Likewise for rap videos.

    It’s one of these black stereotype behaviors that’s timeless.

    Let blacks be black. It’s what and how they are. They aren’t white so we shouldn’t expect them to behave like white people.

    I love when blacks demand they be respected as the stereotypes they are.

  • THE MAN

    I asked a black co-worker why these kids wear their pants like this.He stated they were sending a message “kiss my a**” to the predominant culture. Guess who they are sending the message to.

  • Seek

    Aside from the rotten fashion sense of the hip-hop types, it is perfectly within the authority of school officials to ban such clothes. As much as the burqa, they are a symbol of definace by a backward and stupid Third World culture. A ban in turn is a symbol that the right people are in charge.

    Now if these kids drssed like members of the Ramones, I would have no problem with that.

  • HH

    “To be sure, black and Latino youth are an easy target, as they are already the prime target’s of America’s criminal justice system.”

    Of course they are. It has nothing whatever to do with who it is that is most criminally inclined, among whom the most crime is committed, and which racial/ethnic groups seem to think laws don’t apply to them! No, it is the SYSTEM itself that just “targets” these poor innocent, benevolent and noble creatures of color.

    I cannot actually believe anyone that can string a coherent written sentence together really believes this utter nonsense!

    Among other things, however, it truly does seem that many non-whites are entirely delusional and in a state of pathological denial of the realities of their own kinds’ collective behavior.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is not the pants. It is the person in the pants.

  • Wayne Engle

    “Makes walking a challenge”? I’d think, then, that it makes running a near-impossibility. That’s a significant factor for young black males who by definition often have occasion to run from the police.

    Maybe an alternative to the law would be one allowing police to give all captured suspects with low-slung nether-wear a “wedgie” to put the pants back up where 99 percent of the people in the world think they’re supposed to be.

    Is this law “racially discriminatory”? Well, if the shoe fits, wear it. If the pants are at the low-water mark, then raise the wearer’s expectations.

  • Tim in Indiana

    To be sure, black and Latino youth are an easy target, as they are already the prime targets of America’s criminal justice system. More of them are in prison today than were in chains back in the days of slavery. Often shunned by society, scapegoated, and neglected, they are the fodder, the raw materials, if you will, for a prison-industrial-complex.

    I was about to go into puke mode when I read this. No, black and hispanic yoofs aren’t the target of the “prison-industrial-complex,” they’re the target of each other.

    If they’re the victims of the prisons, then you’d think they’d want to disassociate themselves with prisons and prison culture as much as possible, and not wear clothing styles that are associated with those things. I guess they’re just not very bright.

  • Ben

    Nothing is more intelligent (and crucially needed) to have pants below the waist that it inhibits movement and basic functioning!

    Vast majority of African Americans and Hispanics being targeted? You dare say?!

  • Martin L. Kuhn Jr.

    I agree with the guy over at Stuff Black People Don’t Like on this issue. The droopy pants are a good way to sort Blacks.

    If a Black guy applies for a job wearing pants down around his crotch it saves you the time of reading his application. If you see two Blacks in droopy pants eyeballing you in a parking lot you know that it is time to unsnap the safety strap on your shoulder holster.

    Droopy pants serve the same purpose as the bright colors on Poison Dart Frogs. Not only that, but they are also hard to run in.

    Why would anyone want to do away with this early warning system that Black Thugs provided for our safety and well-being?

  • GenX ANZAC

    Another commentator once made the point that the whole droopy pants phenomenon, is connected to the whole living “on the down low” and the (closeted) gay prison sex lifestyles that black males especially seem to readily engage in, backed up by their disproportionally high rates if HIV infection.

    Droopy pants= signal of availability and ‘easy access’.

  • Anonymous

    “Do you know why men wear their pants like that?”

    Cousin: “no”

    “Its to show how available to other men they are in prison. The lower the pants, the lower on the ladder they are, the more available they are to be used.”

    Cousin: O___O;

    “So pull up your pants.”

    Is this what blacks call on the “down low”?

  • Todd

    I was watching this pastor manning guy a black preacher on youtube and he cracks me up.

    He said the black better wake up because when the white man is gone its all over. he said even to this day the african has never developed a boat suitable for sea use or built a house over one story he says blacks can be trained to do many things but it is the white man who creates progress.

  • NBJ

    Organizations such as the NAACP claim the bill is an example of the school-to-prison pipeline, and would increase dropout rates for black males.

    Seriously? So, if black males are not allowed to wear their pants down around their crotch, THIS will cause them to drop out? What next? If they can’t wear their gang colors and assult teachers with impunity, that will also cause them to drop out?

    I wonder if they even slighly realize how utterly stupid they sound when they say such things. No wonder the NAACP has become a running joke in this country. They deserve all of it.

  • ctpuckett

    The humorous thing about this “fashion” trend is that its origin lies within the prison system. If your pants were saggy, that usually meant that you were “available”.

  • generalquagmyer

    “And last month a Latino high school student in a suburb of Wichita, Kansas accused school officers of hitting him with a Taser and breaking his arm after he refused to pull up his pants.”

    Soooo… Pull up your pants instead of arguing and getting belligerant with proper authority. Then you won’t get tazed. Latino and black thought processes utterly baffle me.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Will this be called the “butt-crack” law?

    And….

    Straight from the Darwin Awards!

    Gunman Hector Quinones slaughtered three people, and made a dash down a rear fire escape.

    His low-slung pants fell to his ankles,tripping him and sending him falling three stories to his death, authorities said.

    Sometimes, in the midst of chaos, the Universe Rights Itself.

    Deputies said the man tried to flee, but the handfuls of cigarettes prevented him from holding up his pants, which fell down and tripped him before he could make it out of the parking lot.

    How hard was it for the cops to arrest this moron when they were laughing so hard??

    Bon

  • Southern Hoosier

    I see a lot of white kids with baggy pants.

    I think the police are going to be looking at the pants and not the color of the skin, unless a whole lot of butt is showing.

  • SavetheWest

    I like how this one hip-hop guru claims that it’s going out of style amongst urban blacks. Not over here in Cleveland. The “sag” is more popular than ever. But like another poster claims, a lot of suburban White kids are doing it too. Then again, I never thought I’d see the day when alot of blacks would be wearing “Hollister” & Abercrombie/ Fitch and Aeropostale. That was always considered lily-White gear for suburban kids. Ten years ago a black wouldn’t be caught dead in those clothes. So they are bigger hypocrites than Whites. Our share of the population would dictate that there would be Whites who adapted to the black style. Especially poor & urban Whites. But for such a large % of blacks to be adopting the Wbite skater

  • Anonymous

    If that is all they have to worry about let me congratulate them on their problems. Let them dress silly and look stupid if they want to. Who cares.

    About every girl I see wears a top that shows half of her boobs. When will they pass a law to prohibit that?

    If you are not doing anything that does harm to someone else, leave people alone. I don’t care if they trip and fall over their own britches. Maybe the proponents of that law are emberassed by their own young people. Maybe pass a law that kids have to be raised properly.

  • jdavis

    You have my permission to slap any white boy wearing his pants “sag”. Only lowlife, braindead, boys wears their pants in “droopy” style. Stats will bear this out…the saggers aren’t high achievers, regardless of geopolitics.

    Expell them, enforce the dress codes and hide the cracken.

    Of course blacks with “sag” pants can’t run as fast and they do have to hold their privates area. This is an advantage for police and anyone else wanting to revenge bad actions.

  • Question Diversity

    How did the sagging style start?

    The only thing that seems to be clear is that it came out of prison culture. I have heard three theories on exactly how:

    1. Prisoners are not allowed to have belts, because of suicide fears. Therefore, a prisoner’s pants will tend to fall down at times. Those who sag their pants are displaying sympathy with their incarcerated brethren, by not wearing a belt.

    2. Prisoners who sag are advertising their availability.

    3. Prisoners who sag are ganged up with a powerful gang on the inside, and sag their pants daring other prisoners to rape them, when they know it won’t happen because of gang retribution.

  • zizlack

    Question Diversity, those three theories have merit but you are approaching this with your White brain. The only reason Blacks need to emulate another Black is to SEE a Brotha doing something(untied shoes, sideways hat, walking with a limp,etc)…A few blacks I work with have actually told me this! We all know the saying that describes that behavior.

  • steve

    On balance, this has to be the strangest fashion phenomenon in Western (and maybe world?) history.

    I’ve spent some time trying to imagine another more bizarre and equally strange. I keep coming up blank.

    I thought about tying one’s shoelaces together, but on balance that’s pretty lame. Wearing one’s pants backwards, so as to be able to defecate (after a fashion) without dropping one’s drawers, doesn’t really qualify either, since it has at least a theoretical practical advantage.

    Affixing one’s hat to the scalp with Superglue is not bad, but it doesn’t quite achieve a milestone fashion statement.

    I guess I’m too far into old fartage and just don’t get today’s fashion statements.

  • Spartan24

    It seems that pants manufacturers have gotten in on the sagging fad. Pants are so low rise these days that they sometimes fall down too low even when the wearer does not intend to show his or her butt. Womens pants are just as bad and girls often wear their thongs hanging out the top (the “whale tail phenomena of a few years ago) bottom line to me- pants need to be near the waist where they need to be!

  • generalquagmyer

    Steve at #26: When playing with language, I sometimes ask why a shirt is singular while “pants” are always plural. It’s because no one wears just one “pant.” Imagine that! Wearing only half a pair of pants and leaving the other side bare.

    Don’t want to give certain people ideas…

  • Ronin

    The modern concept of Racism, which has become more evil than rape and murder, was invented for the express purpose of preventing Whites from enforcing or defending the standards of Western civilization. It rivals war and control of the printing press as the most effective means of social engineering and population control. The Globalist has used Racism as a weapon to such great effect, it has emasculated and debilitated Americans to the point were they can’t even make kids pull up their pants.

  • Question Diversity

    27 Spartan24:

    It gets even sillier:

    http://goo.gl/79xv9

    That particular store no longer exists.

  • Robert Marchenoir

    Silly question, I know, but how on earth do they hold them in place ?

  • Browser

    zizlack wrote:

    Question Diversity, those three theories have merit but you are approaching this with your White brain. The only reason Blacks need to emulate another Black is to SEE a Brotha doing something(untied shoes, sideways hat, walking with a limp,etc)

    ________________________

    I think Zizlack comes closest. Personally, i don’t believe any of those flimsy theories about prison origins, down low, etc. They’re all nonsense!

    Many people are just fools who are looking for another fool to imitate. Most teenagers are very herdish, blacks even more so. Looking for a leader to follow. When they see some highly admired millionaire rapper doing something idiotic on TV, they rush to copy the new “fashion”.

    Why do young people push safety pins through their cheeks, wear their caps backwards, etc.? Why the garish sneakers with the HUGE, clumsy shoelaces? It’s because they saw someone else do it. You’re trying to be too rational about this, when blacks in particular are not rational at all. You’re ascribing to them rational motives which don’t exist.

    PS. I think the whole subject is silly anyway and not worthy of so much attention. It diverts us from major issues. Who cares how some black fool wears his pants? There’s no law against being an idiot. Unfortunately.

  • Spirit Wolf

    Cruelty to animals is a “phony crime”?

    I would say, laws about “hate speech” are the phony crimes around here.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    This is how I heard it from the LAPD gang detail in a teachers’ professional development:

    Sagging did indeed start in the prisons because of the reason mentioned by QD in his post above: Prisoners are not allowed to have belts because of the risk of suicide.

    When prisoners are released back into the black ghettoes, they are looked upon as heroes, returning from (as quoted by the justly-executed “Tookie” Smith) Gladiator School

    Imagine a culture so depraved that a prison stint is looked upon as valiant, mythic, as something to emulate!!

    These returned “heroes” coming back from “battle” puffed around black Section 8 housing project in “house” slippers (can’t have shoe laces in prison for suicide/homicide reasons) and sagging pants, a sure sign they had been in prison.

    Of course, blacks yufs wanted to be just like them!! (and, they do turn out just like their heroes! Many DO go straight to prison!)

    We have been fighting this degenerate habit in the schools for years and indeed it has crept into the White and Hispanic populations (but for a different reason here)*. Don’t laugh but schools are supposed to emulate the working world, set an example and all that and prepare students for the “real” world of employment.

    I visit a lot of colleges/universities and I have seen no sagging there — doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; I haven’t seen it. Come to think of it… I haven’t seen a lot of blacks there either. Prop 209 must be working…for now!

    Wonder where all those brilliant black college students could be……?

    * Hispanics wear baggy clothing to hide spray cans and weapons. Gangs members all shave their heads and dress exactly alike to make if difficult for the cops to identify individual members–police ID is done via tats, which are better than fingerprints, more difficult to cover, painful to get rid of and ALL of them seem to have them, home or garage-made or otherwise. Hep C anyone?

    Bon

  • Michael C. Scott

    The droopy drawers phenomenon originated in US prisons among black homosexuals who did this to advertise their availability. If some dimwit out on the streets wants to look ridiculuous and tell the world in effect “I am a prison b***h,” then more power to him. Since it became fashion, it’s origins have been forgotten by the actual practicioners.

    It is my own fervent hope that the next fashion trend among these numbskulls involves clown shoes. Anyone here will admit that sagging pants and clown shoes go together quite nicely.

  • Yo

    It was a black Florida state senator that introduced this saggy pants bill and tried for 2 years before he got it passed. So, how can this be a “racist” law?

  • Anonymous
  • Michael C. Scott

    Keep in mind that this law only affects dress codes in public schools; the idiots are still entitled to sag their pants when not in school.

    As an example of how far downhill this country’s public schools have gone, my mother and her friends were once wore (gasp) clothes that clashed, such as polka dot blouses with plaid skirts, to Bexley high school in Ohio in 1958. They were sent home to change.