We know that this mainly belt-less, sagging pants phenomenon, popularized by black teenage boys, comes from the penal culture. Its antecedent is the popular “do-rag” that’s been a standard in black, inner-city culture for at least two generations.
So many black boys and young men are on the streets, in shopping centers, clubs and elsewhere looking like targets for arrest to law-enforcement personnel, suburbanites and tourists. Generally, people fear black youth – especially black adults who ride the buses with them and live among them.
Sagging-pants-wearing black males who blatantly exhibit their underwear as style are also sending a cryptic message to society to kiss their behinds for leaving them behind. Their uniform tells all that they are soldiers in the army of those who are mis-educated and forgotten: a new nihilistic foreign legion of a sort.
Countless black girls become young adults and mothers of two or more children with different fathers and no husband. Most of these teenage girls enter adulthood living in an extended family situation with their children, usually with a female head of household that is generational – with mother and/or mother and grandmother.
Young girls are taught to exude their sexuality to be popular, to be wanted, often when barely out of adolescence and sometimes before adolescence. Listening to rap and soul-singers, learning the latest sex-driving gyrations called dancing, and seeking the boys tend to dominate the lives of many girls who are not lucky enough to be involved in organized activities. If that’s not the bull’s eye for black teenage pregnancies and HIV/AIDS, it’s pretty darn close.
We’ve got to save our black youth!
Please, please, do not accept that black youth cannot learn, cannot almost instantly flip into state-of-the-art information technology, for example. Kids are learning weights and measures on the streets that are used everywhere in the world except in the United States of America, but they cannot or will not do the math taught in school. How is it that Pookey can memorize a discography of rap lyrics but show no interest in learning a poem by John Milton or Robert Frost?
How is it that with a mind that can retain so much information, Pookey is functionally illiterate and a stunted talent? To my mind, the reason is at once simple and complex: Educational systems are based on Eurocentric models. Although these models create desire for shared group values, they evade the reality that these values historically suppress people of African descent.
It takes a strong family (caregiver and/or community) and lots of encouragement for black youth to develop a mindset to “conquer” what black writers Neely Fuller Jr. and Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, a psychiatrist, call “the white supremacy system/culture.” Black youth can do this by taking advantage of the education without becoming mis-educated; by striving for excellence. Encouragement fosters positive thinking, imagining, and planning for a career.
This is the time for black people to forgive each other for being indifferent to black youth. Remember, the messenger said to organize from the bottom up. He said, “Yes we can.” And he told us that we, all Americans, can change this nation for the better.
We have everything we need; a president we can believe in, each other, and the scarce resources surrounding us that can be restructured to obtain the greater good.
Let us open up the churches and other facilities, and organize our youth into structured, after-school educational, cultural and recreational programs. Let us organize our retirees, all of whom have something unique to offer, and our artists and musicians.
Call on the athletes, scholars, preachers and other professionals. And do no planning and implementation without the input of our business people. Then reach out for additional resources. Community organizing is from the bottom up, and “God helps those who help themselves.”