Editor’s note: Mary Carey’s column “Saggy Pants,” in which she expresses fears for her black son’s safety based on the way he dresses, continues to generate discussion. Carey wrote in part that when her son leaves for college she will tell him: “If your pants sag and your hat is crooked on your head, people will judge you harshly. They want a simple world where bad people dress a certain way and they don’t have to consider each person as an individual. If the police pull you over, turn the car off, take your hat and sunglasses off, and put your hands on the door. Say “yes sir” and “no sir.” Stay quiet and do what he says. If he hits you, do not hit back. When you get to the police station you will call us and we will take it from there. We will take care of it.”
Column touches maternal heart
I know Mary Carey and her amazing Saggy Pants son – and I worry about his safety too (DN, bit.ly/1yoCEIa).
I am ashamed to say that it has taken a white mother I know of a black young man I care about to really bring this deep and profound issue of human rights home to me – and it has hit me right in the middle of my maternal heart.
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Lately there is so much in the news about the impact of not enough female voices being heard – in the NFL, Congress and campus sexual assaults to mention just a few. The safety of all mothers’ sons is an issue I hope we can rally round.
Thank you, Mary Carey, for your beautiful and thought-filled essay. It is a real wake-up call for the mother in us all.
I read Mary Carey’s article, “Saggy Pants,” over the weekend. It touched me so that I decided I needed to write this letter and perhaps change the perception so many have when they see a young black man with saggy pants!
Mary has a firsthand experience of what it means to be the mother of a young black man – she also has a white son just a year younger – and the observations made about the difference in perception of these two brothers must be startling and heartbreaking!
There is much in the media about profiling, and for the “white suburban mom,sipping her latte at Starbucks,” I am not sure there is ever malicious intent when judging a “saggy pants” kid – it is this profile that we are used to seeing and reading about. It is often not until after a tragic death-that we realize the young man was a good student, loving thoughtful son – and more!
I have more questions than answers about this situation, but I am hopeful that Mary’s article made us more aware that we should NOT be so quick to judge every book by its cover!
Profiling’s pluses and minuses
Profiling is a way of life. As much as liberal idealism preaches it is “bad,” it has a place to put to good use.
Profiling is math, it's statistics ... and both can be used for good and bad. Unfortunately the profile the writer’s son chooses to associate his appearance with has a long negative record. I did not create it.
We profile and make assumptions nearly every five minutes when we are out of our houses. It generally keeps us out of trouble, but not always. It is statistics ... and there are always exceptions and outliers.
I learned the hard way whom not to hang out with growing up. I learned to profile ... then I learned that profiling does not always work as the “good” had some bad in it as well. But for the most part the paradigm I created (we all create) does a great job of keeping us out of trouble in social settings, on the highway, walking down the street.
The worst thing we can do as a society is to act as if this technique wrong; the second worst thing is to teach that it is wrong. Bad people with bad habits and particular patterns will always be with us.
If “good” citizens of society embrace a characteristic that makes them outwardly indistinguishable from the “bad” or “could be bad,” that is their choice. But they better be ready for the choices others make on account of historical perception.
It is what keeps us safe, and no one needs to be chastised for trying to do that.
Who is more dangerous?
I believe the investment bankers that gutted the economy of our nation all had their shirts tucked in, and their ties on straight. Dressing neatly hides the sociopaths quite well. So, who is actually more dangerous to our country – the street corner kid in slouchy pants smoking a joint ... or the BP oil executive?
I think the point I am making is that one can’t judge a book by its cover, and even if profiling exists, the consequences of this profiling has proven to be a disaster for young black males. It has been statistically proven that blacks and whites use illicit drugs at about the same rate, but far more young black men end up in prison than young white men. In light of the multiple police shootings of black youth in many states, isn't it time we stopped, and thought about the consequences of our actions?
Tillis Ignorance Tax
Gene Nichol’s recent op-ed regarding why North Carolina must expand Medicaid couldn’t be any clearer (N&O, bit.ly/1tXClxj). The regressive and mean-spirited political actions by Speaker Tillis and Gov. McCrory blocking expansion in hopes to secure votes this November is reminiscent of the politics of George Wallace.
The moral imperative of saving thousands of our neighbors’ lives that are now dying shows that you truly value life. Denying access to health care to 500,000 North Carolina citizens who are our waiters and waitresses, who look after our children, and provide other valuable services is reprehensible.
The economic imperative is also a no-brainer. Other states have reported saving hundreds of millions of dollars, stopping hospitals from closing – that affects us all, finally ending the $1,000 per family cost-shifting hidden tax (higher insurance premiums to pay for uncompensated care), and the economic benefit list goes on. This cost-shifting tax should now be called the Tillis Ignorance Tax.
We all remember the picture of Gov. Wallace standing in the doorway of public schools denying educational access. Now we have a new picture: Speaker Tillis and Gov. McCrory standing in the doorway of public hospitals blocking access to 500,000 North Carolinians. Shame on you!
The writer for 26 years was the executive director of Illinois’ largest health care coalition, Campaign for Better Health Care.
Tillis out of touch
If the first senatorial debate between U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis had been “The Gong Show,” moderator Norah O’Donnell would have played a judge. But instead of gonging Tillis, she would have mercifully put him, and us, out of misery by handing him the mallet, ushering him back to the judges’ table and allowing him the honor of doing himself in.
When given the opportunity to answer Hagan’s accusation of his denying Medicaid expansion to 500,000 desperate North Carolinians with the repercussive effect of wiping out North Carolina community hospitals, rather than man-up and at least try to defend the indefensible, Tillis blathered on about Hagan’s role in destabilizing 250 million Americans who were happy with their health insurance.
How does filing bankruptcy to ward off creditors because a junk insurance policy wouldn’t cover the flood of medical bills make anyone – unless someone is a bankruptcy attorney – happy? Maybe if Tillis had said “happy with until they used it,” he would have hung on a little longer.
This guy is so out of touch he is not fit for rabid raccoon catcher let alone U.S. senator.