Much is riding on the slender shoulders of our first black president.
There’s the dismal economy. A war in Iraq. The nation’s energy problem. And now comes this: The Los Angeles Times says some are betting that President Obama’s “fashion flair” will persuade more black youths to pull up their pants.
The Times talked with students at North Carolina Central and found that a backlash against droopy trousers started long before Obama became the rage.
Kent Williams Jr., the student body president, has proposed information cards illustrating the right — and wrong — ways to dress for class.
Topping the “DON’TS” list: droopy pants, do-rags, gold chains and other totems of hip-hop culture, the Times reports.
Williams said he got the idea from another HBCU, Winston-Salem State University. Campus attire improved markedly after that school passed out fashion cards last year, a Winston-Salem State staffer told the Times.
Officials at Central say they may distribute cards as well.
Obama, you may recall, hopped into the hip-hop fray last year when he told MTV: “You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. Come on … some people might not want to see your underwear. I’m one of them.”
Williams said students today are looking for guidance, and that Obama “sends a message that you don’t have to be walking around with your pants hanging down to be somebody.”
In an interview with the Times, Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of black popular culture at Duke University, called do-rags and sagging pants “a residue of something that doesn’t really exist any more.” He noted that such hip-hop icons as Jay-Z and Sean Combs are more likely to be seen now sporting evening wear and dapper business suits.
“It makes perfect sense that you would have young African-American strivers wanting to model and emulate President Obama,” Neal was quoted as saying.
When it comes to underwear-revealing baggies, we at Qcitymetro.com can only hope the good professor is right.