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Shouting Match Breaks Out on CNN over “Pull Your Pants Up Challenge”

After the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, America’s attention is on the nation-wide problem of racial disparity in arrests and police action like never before. Concurrently with the days and nights of protest, on social media the ALS ice-bucket challenge has become ubiquitous raising money and awareness about the disease. While two events unfolding simultaneously could have never been more disconnected, naturally people are trying to draw connections between the two. In fact one blogger actually tried to suggest that the ALS challenge went viral only because white people wanted to avoid stories about Ferguson.

While that is certainly nonsense, others have tried to connect the two. One person (and U.S. Marine), Malik King, has gone viral with not an “ice bucket” challenge but a “pull your pants up” challenge for black men. King says that dressing that way, not only reflects poorly on oneself as a person but also provides a kind of excuse for the sort of profiling that happens by police.

In a discussion about it on CNN, according to Mediaite.com, Marc Lamont Hill, professor and social justice talking head, was the sole voice rallying against the challenge. “[This video] suggests…that somehow there’s a connection between black male profiling and [sagging pants,]” Hill said. He also suggested this is blaming the victim. Hill suggested it’s a harmless youthful fashion trend that people eventually grow out of.

However King and Tara Setmayer, a Blaze TV host, both claimed that it absolutely did play a role in creating the profile that police currently look for. More so against Hill’s point is how quickly media outlets on the right, such as Fox News, invoke the word “thug” when describing those who’ve been killed suspiciously like Mike Brown or Trayvon Martin.

Setmayer said that when black commenters in the media like Hill argue against something as common sense as “pulling up your pants,” that it highlights a larger problem with “self-reflection” amongst black Americans.

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.


    If you dress like gangster, don’t act be surprised when your treated like a gangster. If my children or grand children did this…..I’d teach cause and effect,

    • Diane Rhodes

      You stop profiling by screening and training law enforcement, not with fashion makeovers. You stop rape by teaching men and boys that it’s wrong, not by telling victims what to wear and that they’re responsible for their own safety. We all have a right to be safe and we protect that right by retraining the perpetrators, not the victims.

      • Ron Minor

        Diane, in a perfect world you would be totally correct… However, in todays America that is NOT going to happen, sad to say…….

        • Diane Rhodes

          But we have to try. I’m just saying that if you’re going to make the effort to make a difference, don’t waste your efforts on the wrong people. Black men/boys and women have every right, morally, ethically, naturally and constitutionally, to wear anything they wish and assume that they do so in safety. My grandson, white as they come, has dressed like these young men many times without having to give a thought to it being dangerous.

  • EV398E

    It feels to me like equating groin or thigh high pants with being a thug is like saying a scantily clad woman is asking to be sexually assaulted. Both are situations where clothing and appearance are blamed as the reason for the reaction by others, be it racial profiling, or rape.

    I do acknowledge that it is difficult for most people to get beyond appearance, and when a scantily clad woman is assaulted the generalization is that she was asking for it. With regard to youth wearing pants that appear to be falling off, the same type of thinking applies.

    The reality then becomes the individual’s choice. I do not walk around in public wearing minimal clothing, or clothing that exposes those parts of my body that society deems “sexual” (breasts, buttocks, upper thighs, etc.). That is my choice. I am not comfortable dressed in a manner that exposes me to any sort of outside ogling or comment.

    That works for me and me only. If I were to dress differently, I would be accepting the reality that there were going to be unwanted consequences to my appearance because that is the type of dysfunctional world in which we live. In the Middle East where women are covered completely, sexual violence against women is rampant, which gives lie to modesty as a defense against sexual assault.

    In other countries where young people do not have their trousers dropping below their waists, racial profiling still exists.

    For me, modest dressing and wearing one’s trousers at waist level are only effective in protecting a person when those forms of dress are compared to the more scant clothing, or trousers that are mid way between waist and thigh.

    That I personally find the appearance of women who dress to visually share their bodies with the casual observer, or the person who wears their trousers around their groin, or around their thighs, ridiculous and sometimes offensive, applies only to me.

    I know that if I thought my clothing based appearance put me at risk of something I did not want to happen, I would certainly change my clothes. Does that make “it right?” No. It does however, make it reality in this country (USA).

  • William C Sims

    Everybody has an opinion regarding this topic. I will remain adamant on this subject basically because I too see how it affects our youth. What message does it send the youth who are watching our every move. We have fail to realize where this disgusting practice originated from. This practice was born inside prison system. A man who’s pants were “sagging” was showing other inmate of his sexual availability.There is a need for us to educate one another and to teach the origin of this cultural blight

  • Ron Minor

    I have to say that seeing a man or boy with their pants around their ankles and underwear showing, is a tad repulsive…. However, equally repulsive is seeing a fat woman walking down the street with leggings on (oh my) or seeing young women with their dresses so short that you could see (merry christmas) . I think that the men who wear their pants this way knew where it started and what it meant, they might not do it. For older people like myself, it is so easy to forget some of the awful fads back in our day….. Just sayin’