This is a guest post by Filthy Grandeur, who blogs eponymously here, where she writes of herself, "I'm a writer still trying to figure out what I'm doing, so I'm trying to do a lot of different things. I'm a daydreamer who hates being social. I'm afraid I fit the stereotype of angry, loner writer who enjoys sitting in the dark writing about things that piss me off. Yes, I enjoy drinking, but no I do not smoke."
So I've long noticed a common white tendency involving sagging pants: white people in general seem to hate sagging, and that hate is only intensified when the person sagging is also white.
I notice this tendency because my brother sags, and I have observed a number of instances where white people have not been too shy to express their judgments toward him. He's been told to pull up his pants, helpfully reminded that he's not black (as if my brother is unaware of his skin color), and told to stop talking with that "accent."
These criticisms often came from members of our own family. I can recall several instances where our dad yelled at him for "acting black." But often this criticism comes from complete strangers (all white), usually in the form of street harassment. He's told me that he's had white people shout at him from their cars while he walks to work, telling him to pull his pants up.
A few years back, he used to work for our family's landlord (who also own a rental store). Once when he went into the store and asked for our landlord, the white man at the counter, instead of simply pointing my brother in the right direction, asked him, "You hang out with a lot of blacks?"
My brother ignored him and again asked where our landlord was. The man then asked him if he is ashamed of his race.
There are also the ubiquitous "wigger" remarks -- again, often aimed at him from relatives.
There's this white tendency to police other white people's appearance in that manner of definition we know as "defining what it is by what it is not." This is within the parameters of white culture and proper performances of whiteness, which includes disdain for sagging.
I think an important thing to consider in this is that it's always adult white men and women policing my brother's attire. It seems that the older generation is always going to find something they don't like in youth culture, especially when it comes to how they dress, but there's more malice against sagging. An important aspect of youth culture is that it embraces the idea of revolt, which of course can add to the longevity of certain fashion choices. That sagging is supposedly a form of prison culture is apparently one reason why white people find it disgraceful.
The perceptions about sagging are entwined with stereotypes of sex and violence as linked to notions of black masculinity, which are only worsened by sagging's origins when one factors in the over-representation of POC in prisons. Perhaps seeing white people sag or perform other aspects of black culture is in effect crossing some sort of invisible barrier. When the "us" and "them" boundaries become blurred, there's suddenly a threat to whiteness, which would explain the discomfort white people have with the way my brother dresses. His apparent lack of white solidarity causes him to be viewed as a race traitor; it's that sort of mentality which makes him acknowledge that yeah, maybe he is, but it's not like he was seeking white approval anyway.
But the fact that these people are finding something abhorrent in the way others dress is deeply disturbing. These sorts of attitudes are not only condescending when coming from white people ("we didn't give you all these freedoms so you could dress like a hoodlum"), they also illustrate a sense of entitlement, that white people get to say what is and isn't civilized.
It's especially evident that this condescension and hate is not as pronounced when we're talking about a predominately white youth culture (think goth).
Thoughts? Stories of your own?