Judging by the turnout, you’d think Dwaine Caraway was slated to deliver a second Gettysburg address. Alas. A few hours ago, flanked by a throng of men in pleated khakis and women in business suits, Caraway took the podium at City Hall’s Flag Room and talked about pants.
Four years ago Caraway embarked on a crusade against sagging. The campaign went global (all the way to Dr. Phil and China, he said today), but it failed to pull up the collective pants of American youth. Now Caraway is reviving the effort. The 2012 campaign will appear on billboards and DART’s public service announcements, and it will include a “Sagging Summit” at City Hall on June 23. Caraway says enforcement may come later if necessary, but he didn’t specify what form it would take. Mostly he talked about the pressing nature of his cause. “It is imperative that we as men stand here and make sure the world knows that Dallas is on the spotlight, and we will have Dallas shining,” he says.
You see, Caraway believes sagging pants are the root of every challenge facing the city today. Listening to the man, you’d think that no problem is beyond the grasp of a good belt.
Sagging, he says, is damaging to both the individual and the community. Saggers have trouble finding jobs, insult bystanders, and pose a threat to public health. Taking the podium, former school board member Ron Price went further and linked sagging to crime and other “bad decisions” made by young men. “If we can’t get them to pull up their pants,” he says, “we got a long way to go.”
Now, I don’t believe sagging to be an advisable wardrobe choice. My own belt is buckled on the third notch. But I refuse to believe that below-the-waist-pant-wearing is a matter of public policy. If Caraway’s supporters feel so strongly about the issue, why don’t they address the matter in their homes and businesses?
For example: Price, now speaking in his capacity as business owner, dispaired that he can’t hire young men because most of them are saggers. That’s fair. If I had interviewed at D with my pants around my knees, I’m not sure I’d be here. But how about this: if Price wants to address the sagging epidemic, why not hire saggers conditionally, with the understanding they’ll be fired if they don’t pull up their pants?
At 1 p.m., Caraway adjourned because City Council was due back in session. I didn’t stay to find out whether sagging had made it on the docket.
Teo Soares is a D Magazine summer intern. He’ll graduate from Yale in 2013 with a BA and an MA in history.