Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pants On the Ground Solution

Today in class, after I had a mini-tyrade yesterday about the way the boys in my all boys class carry themselves and reminding them of dressed for success Tuesday, I had the schools best dressed African American male in the building come in to talk to the boys about proper attire and making first impressions. (He's our football coach and a school aide but by the way he dresses you'd think he was still working on Wall Street).

He reiterated my explanation that the concept for wearing pants hanging off butts originated in the prison system. That when criminals and convicts are initially sent off to jail they have to relinquish their belts and shoe laces causing them to have to make their entrance into prison an awkward gait where they have to hold their pants up. My boys have heard this explanation a dozen times.

Well, today I got an interesting surprise from one of them:

Student: "Mrs. E, do you want to know why none of us should ever wear our pants saggin'?"
Me: "Aside from looking like criminals going off to jail?"
Student: "Yeah, the number one reason we shouldn't wear 'em like that is cuz saggin' spelled backwards is niggas"

Myself and the speaker were rocked speechless. I told him I had never noticed that or even made that type of connection before. I thought it highly profound because my boys know how strongly I oppose the use of the word, and work hard at trying to get them to stop referring to themselves as such. We then got into a discussion of the true definition of the word, the negative connotations, and the failing attempt to make it a positive term (in my opinion).

Ironically...the student was showing off some bright purple boxers as he made the statement!

At least he got his classmates thinking, right?


angelarose said...

Thats great that you are making efforts to banish this trend that has been around since I was a teen 10+ years ago, I HATE it! Its even more offensive on adults! I don't understand why they can't see how silly it looks and also that it borders on homoeroticism. Not that I have anything against homosexuals but many of the young men who flaunt this style claim to... very ironic. In prison, saggin' actually signifies an "openeness" to certain activities, most people have no idea. Obviously homoeroticism in hip-hop culture is a topic that is a little inappropriate to be discussing with children but its the truth!

Anonymous said...

Wow, from the mouth of the a child. I never made the connection with the letters either. Glad that your students had the opportunity to speak with a black male that they respect. Hopefully, some of what you expressed to them will sink in, after hearing it from him.

Mommyhood Mayhem said...

The pants thing... I agree. I'm more intrigued by your reprimands for saying the n word.

I too HATE this word. I can't stand to hear it said. However, as a Caucasian teacher it has been difficult for me to convince my African American students why they shouldn't use it. I explained how it was a term used for degradation and humiliation and to keep African Americans from being treated or seen as equals in society.

Several students have said that by "owning" this word and calling each other by it has made it theirs and it has a new meaning.

I think it is sad and almost tragic that they have convinced themselves of this. I still shutter when I hear it.