The only thing conservative about me is the way that I dress. That's it. It's my own personal preference not to show cleavage at work, wear short shorts, and pierce my navel. I am a fan of self-expression, and have seen it all.
However, as a parent to two young African American boys, I'm not a fan of the recent trends that I’ve seen popping up among some Black artists, who many young African Americans look up to as role models. The most common trend is sagging pants and the latest trend is getting tattoos on the face.
To defend my first point of sagging one's pants, last year's American Idol, Larry Platt, became famous for singing “Pants on the Ground” and argued that men should pull up their pants, rather than let them sag. It seems that since this song hit the airwaves, a lot of men have sagged their pants even lower. Pants are so low on the ground these days, that you might as well walk in your draws.
(Quick rant.) "Yes, take them off and walk in your underwear. I think I would prefer seeing that, than you trying to stumble up the street, while holding your pants. What is the point in wearing a belt if your pants are way below your waistline and tucked under your butt. Not to mention if they are skinny jeans." Exhaled.
Mashaun D. Simon wrote an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about dress code entitled, "Morehouse dress code seeks to ‘get back to legacy.’" In the article, he quoted Dr. William Bynum, vice president of the Office of Student Services, as saying, “We know the challenges that young African-American men face. We know that how a student dresses has nothing to do with what is in their head, but first impressions mean everything.”
There's got to be a limit or intervention with what is and isn't appropriate and what some would deem "cute," "funny," and representing the "streets." Now, the latest fad is to get "tatted up." Recently, Atlanta rapper Yung LA had the internet buzzing about his Duck tattoo on his face. He recorded one hit song, wasn't yet signed to a label and went out and got "tatted up." Facial tattoos are becoming a fad.
I'm calling on young Black male artists, sports figures, fathers, and professionals to set the standard for what is and isn't appropriate. You can wear your pants a certain way and not be seen as Steve Erkel. I also believe it takes a village to raise a child, and when I see young brothers sagging their pants, I become embarrassed. I want to pull up their pants for them. It's not cute or professional. It’s tacky. In 2009, Pharrell Williams, the lead singer of N.E.R.D., began removing his tattoos and concealing his body art in order to become more marketable. Recently, Rapper 50 Cent has been quoted in several publications on how ridiculous it is for young people to get tattoos on their faces because they become less attractive to advertisers.
I understand that at ages 15 and 16, you're trying to fit in with what's hot. I had a Jehri Curl when I was younger, wore different color socks, backwards clothes, and big hoop earrings. Getting a tattoo on your face is permanent, and it will limit the job opportunities that young folks may receive in the future. I'd encourage kids to slap a fake tattoo on their faces, just to see what it would look like before getting a permanent one. Please tell your children not to let a fad label them or pigeon hole their success.
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Photo (Top): http://rapfix.mtv.com
Photo (Yung LA): http://theurbandaily.com