Driving to work today I almost hit a young man. It wasn’t my fault, I had the right of way. I was driving down a street when the man had parked his car on the side of the street I was driving on and just got out of it and quickly ran across the street, forcing me to hit the brakes. He didn’t even look in my direction, but I guess he was preoccupied with making sure his pants didn’t fall down. That’s right, as he ran across the street he was holding up his pants with both hands. He looked ridiculous. And, judging by the looks of the car that he had just gotten out of, which was nicer than mine, I’m going to assume that this young man was not just too poor to afford a belt, this was a deliberate fashion choice. And taking that along with his decision to run into the street without looking both ways, and you wonder why I pre-judge some people?

Yes, I went over the subject of sagging pants yesterday and I must say that I got many of the typical responses that I expected when posting it on my Facebook page. It’s just a fashion trend, they’ll grow out of it, why am I being so judgmental, what about all the White and Latino kids who dress that way, why are you only attacking the Black kids, why should Black kids be “forced” to dress a certain way just to appease White society? Blah blah blah, all the excuses I’ve heard before. I was told that it was unfair of me to hold Black youth to some “higher standard” than others. But is that what I’m doing?

Yes. Yes it is.

And why the heck not?!? Frankly, I think that’s one of our (& by “our”, I mean “the Black community in America”) biggest problems, we don’t hold ourselves to a higher standard (or any standard, much of the time). Instead there’s this fear of self-reflection, because we don’t want to justify racists attitudes, that leads far too many of us to deflect all criticism. It’s easier to point the finger outward, and blame racism for everything. And as I’m getting older I’m really getting tired of that crap.

I’m not saying that racism is no longer a problem, okay? Not at all. And we can talk about institutionalized racism and the legacy of slavery all day, but the fact remains that there are a lot of things that WE could be doing to help ourselves that we are not doing. We should DEMAND better behavior from ourselves, our communities, our celebrities, our politicians, and our so-called Black leaders.

I was thinking back to when I was in Elementary school and Junior High School. I remember there were a few Asian kids and they’d be upset and crying when they’d get a B on a test, and me and the Black and Hispanic kids would laugh at them, thinking that was ridiculous. We’d all love to get B’s, that was good enough for us. Heck, C’s were good enough for us, because at least that meant you passed. Of course, now I look bacl and I realize that we were the stupid ones. The reason those Asian kids were crying is because they had tough parents who demanded and expected the best for them. This was over 20 years ago, before anyone ever heard the phrase “Tiger Moms.” And people can complain about parents like that being too tough, but I bet if I looked up and found those Asian kids today they’re probably doing better than most of us Black kids. We all went to the same school and had the same teachers, but there was a reinforcement at home that made the difference.

And that’s what we’re lacking today. We need our own Tiger Moms in the Black Community. Let’s call them BLACK PANTHER MOMS. We need Black Panther Moms who won’t let their kids settle for just passing grades. Who won’t let their kids walk out of the house with their underwear exposed. Who will demand excellence from their kids, so they can grow into responsible adults who can contribute to society.

And of course I shouldn’t need to say that it’s just as important that these kids have responsible FATHERS to help raise them. Even if the parents aren’t married (although we should prioritize that more, it’s disgraceful the way terms like “Baby Daddy” and “Baby Mama” have almost replaced “husband” and “wife” in our community), if you create a child together then you need to find a way to work together to raise it. Raise the next generation to be responsible, respectable, polite, and law-abiding people. And when legitimate racism rears its ugly head, we should work together to defeat it. But we have to work on ourselves first.

Just my opinion.

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