Pull Your Pants Up


I was reading an article on the website Stereogum, about a comment that Chance The Rapper made about Spike Lee’s new movie Chi-raq. In it, Chance criticized the movies message by describing it as being on, “some Bill Cosby, ‘pull your pants up’ type stuff.”

Chance contends that it isn’t so much the lifestyle choices that young people are making, (ie..sagging pants) but that PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is actually more responsible for the troubles that are affecting communities nationwide.

Chance says, “Kids as young as seven, and younger than that, have seen people murdered in front of them, so that starts a paranoia in your mind that you’re walking around with. When you’re walking around and you feel like people are trying to kill you, you shoot when you get scared. That’s a problem that even I have. That’s a problem that a lot of people suffer.”

sagging pants
You’ve seen this fashion statement plenty of times before.

I’ll concede that he has a point!

I don’t want to argue the validity of  his assessment of causality for now, so let’s back up to the some Bill Cosby, ‘pull your pants up’ type stuff comment that Chance made.

I’m not much for preaching the cultural, ethical, and moral ramifications of something as trite as  fashion, and I’m a bit turned off by any talk that does.  Maybe that’s because it’s just not that important for me to spread my brand of morality to people.

Can't get right
Can’t Get Right played by actor Bokeem Woodbine

At times when I was a youth, my nickname could have easily been, “Can’t Get Right,” just like the character from the 1999 movie, “Life.” Back in those days, there was a period when I just couldn’t get my act together. In other words, I’d fallen short of my own expectations for myself and those of others (and at times still do).

But as I consciously and continuously evolve, I’m learning what works best for me as I strive to grow nearer to living my own authentic truth.

I can only practice being the best person I can be, while encouraging others to do the same.

If you find it necessary to wear your pants down below your butt (even though I wouldn’t) who am I to judge that, or to try and attribute your choice to the systematic decline of society? Your personal style is your prerogative – a byproduct of the beauty of free-will!

MLK’s pants were not sagging and this still happened to him!

So to all those who still concern themselves with other people’s clothing, and the manner in which they wear them, (as if these decisions will lead to some great calamity) I ask you this question.

Are you being your best self?

The truth is, only you can answer that for yourself!

The point I feel Chance was making from the perspective of a young person is that, older folks act as if we know what’s best for everyone simply because we are old.  It’s true that experience is the best teacher, and I believe that we should respect our elders.  However there is a difference between experience and wisdom.

Unfortunately, wisdom does not always come with age alone.  There are many philosophical thoughts on how one obtains Wisdom, but generally speaking, it is acquired through the learned ability to discern (decide between truth, error, and what’s important), and to show discretion (speak without being offensive).

I used to be a rather unruly young person. Yes, that is “the bird” on full display there…along with MY SAGGY PANTS!

An unwise person may come across as preachy and authoritative, while a wise person may allow someone to find their own way, by simultaneously providing gentle guidance toward helping them become their best selves.

This is also the mark of good parenting, and the approach I strive to use most often with my children.

We must be mindful to avoid our natural tendecy to be self-righteous in our approach to dealing with young people.  Because remember, it wasn’t long ago that we old folks were having OUR fun, and doing things that the previous generation thought was questionable at best.

When it comes to things of merit, issues of great importance, it is our duty to speak up! But when it comes to superficial things like fashion, we could probably afford to pump our brakes a little bit.

I know it’s difficult to do so, because the hardest thing about business is…learning to mind our own!



  1. You’re right! Fashion does not define our character and our worth. Our young people used to dress with the waists of their pants at their waists – with a belt, and the so-called dominant culture did not recognize us as good enough then, and the attitude remains now. So it’s not how our pants are worn, it could be a rebellious way of expressing or trying to feel freedom wherever possible. Our people (young and old) don’t feel free (now or in the past), or that we have control over our lives and that our lives are disposable. PTSD would def be a diagnosis for that condition.


  2. Marc – I hear you loud and clear. I have a 14 y.o. grand-son who I am trying to keep alive in America. Perception of young black men by others I can’t change, but how a young man dresses while out and about can have others deem him less worthy, and more prone to committing a violent act. I tell my grand-son pull up your pants, I don’t want to see your underwear. 

    Did the Afros of the 60s scare people? Yes, and I wore one for years. It was a different time in America when my generation was trying to change the status quo and have more jobs available to black folk (among other things). Did some companies not hire us with our Afros? Yes. 

    When more young black men imitated rappers and put gold teeth in their mouth – was it scary to others in our society? Yes. Marc – you have daughters – and America sees them a little bit differently then young black men. Also, it appears that how you and your wife are raising them – is one that “others” in our society welcome and don’t feel intimidated.

    Do cops treat young black men differently? Yes. If someone has sagging pants – jeans with holes – a long white T-shirty – will they assume he may have a gun? Yes. Will 7-Eleven store owners see a young black man with sagging pants as a possible robber? Yes.  We live in a hostile environment where how you dress have others make assumptions – right or wrong.

    Again, trying to keep my grand-son alive and it still isn’t enough.


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