Opinion: Columnists

An unnecessary 'saggy pants' tale of woe

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Gregory Kane,Columnists,Jobs,CNN,Analysis

Consider this a “sagging pants” tale.

A while back, Don Lemon, an on-air personality for CNN News, boldly sallied forth into the cauldron about American racial and cultural mores.

Specifically, Lemon offered five pieces of advice to black American men. They were:

1. Stop wearing sagging pants.

2. Stop saying the n-word.

3. Stop littering.

4. Finish high school.

5. Have fewer children out of wedlock.

Though I was a bit confused about Lemon point number three, I have to admit the other four all amounted to cogent, sound advice.

Black liberal cognoscenti tended to disagree. They skewered Lemon, almost unmercifully at times.

Music mogul Russell Simmons’ response was to call Lemon a “slave” and then imply the CNN personality is black America’s enemy number one.

All Lemon was doing was offering advice to young black men about how to make themselves more employable in the job market.

After all the wailing and lamentations that black liberals do about the high rate of unemployment among young black males, you’d think they’d have welcomed the man’s suggestions.

Those suggestions are sorely needed, if what a friend of mine that works driving rental cars to and from local airports tells me is true.

One of his co-workers was indeed a young, black male. This young man, whom I’ll give the name Jack, had the habit of wearing his pants in that sagging-down-over-the-rear-end style.

So it came to pass one day that the lead dispatcher called Jack into the office. The topic of discussion was Jack’s pants, and how he was wearing them.

“Pull ‘em up,” the dispatcher told Jack. And he did, but not before subjecting his fellow workers to a lot of his grousing and kvetching.

“I’m a grown-ass man,” he hissed, prompting some of his co-workers to wonder why he didn’t dress like one.

Jack is a young black male in his 20s. He failed to notice the difference between him and his black male co-workers who were in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

All of them wore their pants up around their waists, where their pants should have been.

Nor did Jack notice that the two black male office managers – men not much older than he is – also wore their pants up around their waists.

As might be predicted, all of Jack’s black male co-workers – including the dispatcher who brought him to heel – still work for the company in question.

Jack does not.

The person that told me the above “sagging pants" tale doesn’t know whether Jack found another job or if he’s among the ranks of the unemployed. But one thing is certain.

By trying to play it cool and slick and hip, and by trying to dress in the latest fad of pants down over the butt, he made himself unemployable in the job he did have.

For those young black men – especially teens, whose unemployment rate has been estimated as high as 18 percent – the focus must be on making themselves more employable.

Well, that, and basic home training. I remember when black Americans used to talk about home training all the time. Actually, we talked about the lack of it.

Whenever we saw someone out in public acting either the fool or shamelessly and disgracefully, we’d shake our heads in pity and proclaim, “No home training.”

Anyone – no matter race, ethnicity or gender – who sallies forth into the streets wearing his or her pants down over the butt has shown a total ignorance of Home Training 101.

Home training, back in the day, is what black folks were expected to teach their children. It’s what the late, great Booker T. Washington would have expected us to teach, and did indeed exhort us to teach.

Why don’t black liberals bring up the topic of home training? Why, because it’s a conservative value, of course.

And we all know they’ll have no truck with conservative values, don’t we?

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.
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