City Hall

Councilman Caraway Relaunched His War on Saggy Pants Today, and Damn if We Didn't Go Buy a Belt

Today, City Council member Dwaine Caraway relaunched his war on saggy pants with a press conference/"Pull 'Em Up" summit in City Hall, and it was without a doubt the single best thing to ever happen to Dallas.

First there was the star-studded cast of characters: all of City Council, except for Mayor Mike Rawlings, whose opening statements were read by Pauline Medrano and Tennell Atkins. Deion Sanders made an appearance, sporting a ball cap, T-shirt and shorts. Dallas Police officers, the fire and rescue squad, political emissaries from Fort Worth, Betty Culbreath, Carter High School's anti-sagging "Man Up" group, former council member Ron Price, and the coup de grace, South Dallas City Hall gadfly Sandra Crenshaw.

Then there was the message: Caraway will stop at nothing until every pair of Dallas men's pants is belted at the waist.

The whole thing felt like a joke at first. Hell, the whole thing was a joke at first. Then Caraway called out the president of the United States.

"I want to say this about our president. I want to say first I respect President Barack Obama and I support President Barack Obama, but the president seems to think the concentration of an elected official should not be on this issue. The only thing I'd like to say back to the president -- and make sure you know that I support him -- but [his daughters] Sasha and Malia don't ride the DART bus here in Dallas."

The epidemic of saggy pants started when men began emulating jailed prisoners, who had their belts removed so that they couldn't be used as weapons or to commit suicide. No belt + prison food=sag. People with sagging pants are often profiled as "thugs," and as one speaker so eloquently stated, "dress like a thug and you'll get treated like a thug."

So young men, mostly black, are being profiled. What else is new?

According to Caraway, the campaign is about "respecting yourself and all women." And that's when everything got awesome.

"This is greater than just the respect side of it. It's a health side of it, as well," Caraway said, before commenting on the maybe real danger of riding DART. "Underwear is meant to protect your inner self from your exterior clothing. The germs immediately exposed from the body are waiting on the next passenger."

That someone could literally be so full of shit as to infect others with contagions seconds, minutes or hours after they've left is almost unbelievable (unless you're familiar with viewers of Fox News). So Caraway brought props.

"It's not about fashion with me. It's not about rights. It's not about the ACLU," he said, as people yelled out "Preach!" and "Tell it how it is!" As he spoke, he picked up grapes, lemons and other fruits on the podium so that everyone gathered could imagine what would happen if someone who just touched their exposed underwear then touched fresh produce.

Caraway then spoke about a couple stores that have "No Shoes, No Shirts, No Sagging, No Service," which technically would be grammatically incorrect, though the store owners have the right idea.

Caraway praised Fort Worth officials, since their public transportation system has the right to deny service to saggers.

"We're trying to find a solution without having to use enforcement," Caraway said, citing billboards, radio, word of mouth and the press as ways to get this initiative cemented in the Dallas psyche.

Then it was time for others to talk. Primetime got his 15 seconds, and used it to plug himself. "We're opening up two schools," he said," and I can guarantee that no teacher came into the interview sagging."

The campaign is mostly geared toward men, but that doesn't mean women were exempt. Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill earned an applause when she brought up women's fashion, saying, "There's no place for slits, plunging, butt cupping, etc. That is inappropriate in a public place." She later continued, "It's not about showing your body. It's about being the woman God made you to be."

Soon, though, the bulls-eye was back on men when Councilwoman Carolyn Davis took the mic. "If a gentleman approaches you with his pants sagging, stop him at the door! Put your hand up," she said, raising her hand, "and say, 'Not today, brother!'"

People went nuts. She stressed that men who sagged their pants shouldn't get respect from women, or ostensibly, ass. She then led the chamber in a chant, yelling, "What's the word?" as the audience responded, "No sagging, no respect! No sagging, no respect!"

One young lady gave a tutorial on women broaching the topic of getting their fellow students to stop sagging (The secret: You have to compliment them first. Say, "You look awesome, but can you pull up your pants?") and then it was onto questions from the audience.

The strangeness of the entire event was boosted by the fact that it didn't look like a single person's pants in the audience were in danger of sagging. Caraway and company were preaching to the choir. (The intervention summit for the saggers takes place June 23.)

And then, from the back came one man with the only baggy, saggy pants at the presser to ask a question.

"What if we're not looking for a job and feel comfortable enough to wear pants however we do?" he asked.

Caraway hit him with a hypothetical. What if Caraway tried to date his mother with his pants sagging?

The commenter shot back. What if he was dating Caraway's mother, and had saggy pants and a holey shirt, but Mrs. Caraway still liked him for him. Free love, and shit?

As a response, Caraway extended a hand, and begged him closer, as if making an altar call. Slowly at first, then more confidently, the lone sagger walked to the front of the congregation, and the room erupted.

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Greg Howard