a sagging and bagging story

The pull up your pants law. With a recession and lots of people with extra time on their hands. The law is part of a more complex social issue that says more about white culture’s response to hip culture, but does reveal social dynamics that reinforce the status quo…

…A Florida lawmaker is welcoming students back to school by handing out 200 leather belts to help them comply with a new state law that bans saggy pants on campuses. Democratic State Senator Gary Siplin of Orlando pushed for six years for the so-called Pull Your Pants Up law, and finally got his wish last spring….

Did it begin when white girls began dating black guys for some inexplicable reason to white males? There is a certain bewilderment that invokes a consternation of white masculinity over why white women would want to have relations to African American males. It’s o.k. to tell black stories from a white perspective as in The Help as part of a white fantasy; but the reality is a profound discomfort when white girls in their community are attracted to black men.  The rub is a white fear, an anxiety that genuine racial integration is a slippery slope to miscegenation which is indicative of a double standard with respect to the degree of involvement permitted with the other. Its a sophisticated tribalism.

Read More:http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/houghton/2010/06/02/the-american-minstrel-show-collection/

But, its more complex, since teenage rebellion is buying into a cultural commodity- profitable to white’s- from African American culture and used as a rite of passage in with the negative stereotypes of African Americans are further reinforced as the “outlaw culture” whose hyper-masculinity reflects the misogyny and patriarchy of the dominant culture.So,it  is acceptable for whites to take an interest in African-American men and the masculine aspect of the culture through hip-hop , like Jean Jacques Rousseau and the Noble Savage, but it is clearly not encouraged for white women to manifest a similar inclination.

Significantly, there is a push-pull process at play here of which the pants law is one aspect: Efforts made by whites to retreat, with their women from African Americans, while equally engaging in certain aspects of their culture which display the long-standing fascination with the African American other that deemed to begin with minstrelry in the pre-civil war era.  The relationship is that of the voyeur: the masking as in blackface minstrelsy; where there is a desire to experience blackness while maintaining a comfort zone from it. It can even be argued that the rappers/hip hoppers are also wearing a mask  through which they parody and banalize certain  aspects of  their own culture. So, both groups end up by buying into the masquerade, each ultimately presuming it to be a genuine and authentic depiction of black culture.

---Unlike many of the machines in our collection, this "Lifting and spanking machine" really existed. It was designed for masonic lodges and college fraternities and such like to use in their initiation ceremonies, and is advertised here for $32.50 in the 1930 "Fraternal Supply Catalog" of Messrs DeMoulin Bros & Co. of Illinois.---Read More:http://www.corpun.com/machine.htm

…The state legislature voted overwhelmingly to enact the ban at the start of the 2011-12 school year, making Florida and Arkansas the only two states with such a widespread prohibition against saggy pants for students….

…Throughout American history, white Americans have expressed fascination with black culture. This fascination has often manifested itself within the entertainment industry. Through the voyeuristic mechanisms of radio, film and television, white Americans have been able to safely regard African Americans without having to make intimate contact with them. In order to maintain this distance, according to Ralph Ellison in his controversial essay “Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke,” white Americans have forced African Americans to don masks which conceal their true identity while, at the same time, allow white Americans a safe glimpse of the exotic black Other. Notably, these masks are most often worn for the sole purpose of white entertainment. A deeper purpose, however, lies beneath this mask.

Read More: http://binkis.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/blackface/ ---To some extent, every immigrant group was stereotyped on the music hall stage during the 19th Century, but for Blacks the history of prejudice, hostility, and ignorance insured a unique longevity to the stereotypes. The stock characters of blackface minstrelsy played a significant role in disseminating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide. White America’s conceptions of Black entertainers were shaped by minstrelsy’s mocking caricatures and for over one hundred years the belief that Blacks were racially and socially inferior was fostered by legions of both white and black performers in blackface. Originating in the White man’s characterizations of plantation slaves and free blacks during the era of minstrel shows (1830-1890), the caricatures took such a firm hold on the American imagination that audiences expected any person with dark skin, no matter what their background, to conform to one or more of the archetypes...

Black culture, this seemingly exotic entity, also intrigues whites because of its ability to offer them an opportunity to act out against the conventions of mainstream white society. In her essay “Eating the Other,” bell hooks contends that, in accordance with this fascination

8220;ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture.” Significantly, only white males are permitted to express this fascination. Read More:http://www.americanpopularculture.com/archive/music/rap_white_men.htm

…”We want our kids to believe they’re going to college, and part of that is an attitude, and part of that is being dressed professionally,” Siplin told Reuters.

The statewide school dress code bucks a fashion trend with roots in prison attire and the rap and hip-hop music community. Siplin, who admits to sporting an Afro and platform shoes in his youth, grew tired of seeing young men wearing their pants so low their underwear was exposed.

---To play the Tramp, you need baggy pants, a tight coat, a derby hat, a large pair of shoes, a cane and a moustache. Remember that the awkward fit of the garments should add to the exaggerated walk, and be sure to use the cane in as many creative ways as possible – from picking your teeth to helping yourself up.---Read More:http://vintagevivant.com/2011/08/23/charlie-chaplin-inspiration/

He originally sought to criminalize saggy pants, but the current law instead subjects repeat violators to up to three days of in-school suspension and up to 30 days suspension from extracurricular activities. It also targets low-cut and midriff-exposing shirts on girls.

Siplin fought off objections from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which contend the law violates personal freedom and unfairly targets minority students.

---the bizarre world of SCHAVE & REILLY. Modern-day versions of Vaudeville's baggy-pants comedians. Reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy, these two delightful clowns use an original blend of ridiculous dance, slapstick, and juggling to tell stories of life, love, and jubilation.--- Read More:http://www.schaveandreilly.com/index2.html

But Siplin, who is black, said he had received accolades from constituents for his efforts.

“The parents, the grandmothers, the professional people, they say, ‘How can they walk down the street showing their behinds?’ It’s not civilized,” he said.

---Frame from a comic strip, "Little Nemo in Slumberland", by Winsor McCay, in the New York Herald, 7 February 1909. The story is set in a school, where the principal has installed the new "Patent Automatic Corrector, Electric Manipulator and Spanking Administrator".---Read More:http://www.corpun.com/machine.htm

Early Monday, Siplin handed out a dozen belts donated by a local church to students who showed up with droopy drawers at Oak Ridge High School in Orlando. He left another 25 belts with school administrators to hand out as needed.

Siplin said he also gave away about 100 belts at two other largely minority high schools as students arrived last week for their first week of school. Read More:http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/wire-news/florida-lawmaker-hands-out-belts-under-saggy-pants-ban_581550.html a

Image: http://abagond.wordpress.com/2008/03/22/minstrel-show/ Read More: http://www.c-s-p.org/flyers/9781847182401-sample.pdf ---Down another path lay the promise of ethnicity, a system of classification which, while done against the backdrop of the blackwhite paradigm, allows for categorization according to cultural background, with the possibility for non-blacks to acquire the advantages of whiteness. Entering a profession that brimmed with racial play, after a childhood spent in a multi-ethnic community, the Marx Brothers’ use of ethnic stereotypes gained them entrance into the dominant white class of American society even while they exposed the constructed nature of that very hierarchy...


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One Response to a sagging and bagging story

  1. omalone1 says:

    appreciated the read. Maybe some Fanon references would have enhanced it, as well as some Baldwin suppositions. Apart from that, a useful exposition.

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