Reporter Gayle White’s article about Morehouse’s efforts to curb the use of profanity and sagging pants among its students is an interesting one.
Morehouse President Robert Franklin has been involved in a campaign to make sure the men enrolling into his Atlanta historically black college are fully aware of what it means to be a Morehouse man.
Franklin, who was named president last year, instituted the practice of giving every freshman a tie and a blazer in the college’s primary color, maroon, as a tangible symbol of the image of a gentleman.
“The fact is a significant percentage of our students arrive at Morehouse with a preppy orientation and understand the importance of presentation of themselves,” Franklin said. “Some of the students themselves are surprised to discover a small number of students who arrive with a different, almost thuglike, orientation in dress, speech and social behavior.”
The article goes on to point to The Gramblinite, Grambling State University’s newspaper, having a post-election headline titled, “Obama Won; Now Pull Up Your Pants.”
The headline was written by lifestyle columnist Justin M. LaGrande, who wrote, “Obama isn’t sagging his pants.”
That sentence got me thinking: is the Obama victory in the presidential election a signal to young black men that it’s time to stop the sagging? As the reporter notes in her article, the Obama win “has boosted the backlash against the sartorial and linguistic byproducts of the hip-hop culture.”
She points to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s (a long-time critic of the use of vulgar language) recent comments to the Chicago Tribune: “You can’t be using the b-word, the n-word, the h-word when you have Barack Obama redefining overnight the image that black people want to have.”
First, I take issue with Ms. White’s assessment that the Obama win has boosted the backlash against the hip-hop culture. Sure, there are some people (I’m one of them) who remain steadfast in their opposition to the byproducts of the hip-hop culture. However, I can’t say that this election boosted the backlash since you still have politicians who cling to the notion that using people who “look and talk like them” can get them out to the polls.
Jim Martin’s plans to stump with T.I., Ludacris and Young Jeezy all but backfired when he was soundly defeated by Saxby Chambliss in the Georgia Senate runoff. Maybe Martin didn’t get the memo about how the use of hip-hop artists is nothing short of political suicide.
Second, maybe the Gramblinite columnist has a point–there’s no excuse (not that there ever was) to walk around with your pants sagging when you have a successful, self-made black man running your country. Maybe this election should make young black men (and women) realize that the selling-yourself-short and pessimistic propoganda that hip-hop artists feed into their minds just isn’t reality. Sure, sagging pants and publicly using vulgar language may be a form of “self-expression.” But, at the end of the day, will this form of self-expression make or break one’s attempt to make a mark in society?
While Morehouse’s president’s efforts did predate the Obamapalooza phenomenon, his campaign just may gain some traction now that he has the ideal image to refer to when discussing the image of the Morehouse Man to his students.
Thoughts (I know this entry is all over the place, but I tried. It’s Monday, for crying out loud)?