Since Don Lemon’s statements about sagging pants being the reason black men can’t get jobs, continue their education, stay out of jail, etc., I’ve witnessed a flurry of white fists in the proverbial air, mobs of white commenters on various blogs and forums saying “See? See? What I’ve been saying all along.” Torches and pitchforks. Pointing fingers. Sighs of relief as their own opinions—held however secretly—are given breath by a black man; the token voice they need for “permission” to air out their often ill-concealed dirty laundry.
This topic has been written on extensively. I have little to contribute. Lemon’s equation of fashion choices to the grossly disproportionate numbers of black men who are unemployed, criminalized, and institutionalized is almost laughable. But I do want to ask you this, Mr. Lemon.
Would you say the same about victims of rape?
If a woman is wearing a short skirt or a low-cut top and is the victim of sexual assault, is she to blame? When police officers arbitrarily dismiss her allegations as uncredible; when courts lambast her supposed promiscuity and wardrobe choices; when she is called a whore or that she was “asking for it”—is it her fault?
I am discussing a system of blame in which an oppressed group bears the brunt of its own brutalization; in which petty justifications like sartorial decisions are gestured to as the root of all said group’s misfortune. It reminds me of something… It reminds me of a boy who was wearing a hoodie on a rainy evening while walking home from the store, who was seen as dangerous, threatening, suspicious, out of place. A boy who was murdered as a result of it.
Is your memory so short, Mr. Lemon?
This is a society that would rather criticize hems and pants than its own distorted lens of bias and blame: its systematic inequality and inherited poverty.
A society that would rather point at hoodies as the problem rather than address its prejudice toward the skin of the hoodie-wearer.
A society that has a finger pointing solidly at the black boys with their pants riding low, steadily unaware of the four fingers pointing back at itself.
Black boys are being gunned down in front of their homes, and we’re talking about pants? We’re talking about PANTS?
Enough, Mr. Lemon. And enough, America. You need an intervention.