So this story hit the news at the end of last week but I was too bogged down to notice it. Apparently Deshon Marman, a member of the University of New Mexico football team, was returning from a funeral in San Francisco Wednesday when he was escorted off of a U.S. Airways flight for sagging his pants. While he had paid for a ticket, the specific offense he was kicked off for was trespassing. Not sure I really understand that one.
To be clear, it was claimed that he was escorted off the plane for the manner of his resistance to requests to pull up his pants rather than the sagging itself. If it had been someone I knew I would have told them to stop tripping and pull his pants up. You can’t, as a Black man, turn every small racist slight into the March on Washington. But in all seriousness, let’s call a spade a spade here: this incident was pretty racist.
The ACLU has a write up that does the issue way more justice than we can here, so I’m going to just try and add my two (humorous) cents. We all know that since 9/11, airlines (and in general most enforcement agencies) have been given a fairly long leash with respect to using racism and stereotype to enforce [safety] measures. Although in the context of airplanes the tools of discrimination were generally used against people with ancestry in the Middle East and Asia, we Black folk have been used to random searches and being escorted out of places because of the way we dress for…centuries really. Recently we’ve actually happily taken solace in the fact that we’ve kind of gotten a free pass on airplanes, because of the focus on people who in a may-kinda-sorta-if-you-squint-your-eyes-type way look like “terrorists” or have “terroristy” names.
But the fact of the matter is that if you aren’t white, your margin of error is zero. Even if you do everything right and wear the most inoffensive and bland clothing, just by virtue of your skin color you are always subject to stupid “misunderstandings”, even in today’s “post-race” world (whatever the fuck that means).
That’s the rules, so even though I think Mr. Marman ethically had every right to sag his pants, practically he was being a bit of an idiot for not complying. But it’s hard not to see the hypocrisy with airlines when they don’t dare ask that fat women in front of you to pull her pants up even though her exposed crack is offending the shit out of you, or even the creepy guy with the trenchcoat to take that off and stop being so creepy. As long as they’re white, it’s fine. Hell, how many times have you seen this guy on the plane? Do you know how unsafe this guy makes me feel?
Of course, US Airways, or any business who employs such practices will deny the racism, but until you start kicking the folks who go barefoot in the plane, who are in violation of the WRITTEN, rather than “implied” dress codes, off with the same zeal as you do those who sag, I have a problem. And while we won’t win much in terms of what our people need (education, social reform) by getting riled up over issues like these, I hope eventually people get the message as to how simply stupid and unnecessary events like these are. Until then, I don’t plan on sagging my dockers mid-flight though.
But maybe I’m just oversensitive. What do you guys think?