DALLAS (NNPA) - Having garnered national attention, Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway is taking to another dimension his fight against young Black men saggin' their pants. And he's got Big Mama in his corner.
But will teens listen to fashion advice from people twice their age? Only time will tell if the decades-old style will be felled by a political leader.
During a press conference at City Hall last month, Caraway re-revealed the "Pull 'em Up!" campaign he launched last year, but with the extension of "Keep It a Secret," also conveying a message to young urban girls.
"This is something we need to do for our society," Caraway said at the press conference. Referring to the young men, he stated: "You're not going to become President of the United States as Barack Obama, not if your pants are hanging down. And you're not going to even get a chance to date those two little girls in the White House because Barack not going to let you, if your pants are hanging down."
Caraway added: "The banks are not going to hire you. You're not going to become a lawyer and think you can walk into a court and think you can defend anyone."
Arguably, the vast majority of the casual clothes teens and young adults wear wouldn't get them hired in a professional environment.
Caraway recruited acclaimed actress and returning Dallas resident Irma P. Hall to help get the messages across. Hall's picture will be included in new posters and billboards expressing the double-slogan. Media giant Clear Channel, who also has a large outdoor advertising division, has donated 22 billboards for the posters to be displayed throughout the city.
"I'm on board because I love you. I am the Big grandmother, I am the 'Big Mama' in my family," said Hall, who is well known for her strong mother figure roles in movies like Soul Food, A Family Thing, Collateral, The Ladykillers and Meet the Browns. She taught in DISD schools from 1962 to 1984 before her acting career flourished. She directed her words to the youth, saying: "I want to see the very best for you and see you reach your full potential.
"I'm still teaching school, I just have a bigger classroom."
That's why Caraway reached out to Hall.
"Whatever Big Mama said, it goes," he said. "When you reach out to folks with such a great bright career and they choose to get on board, that's the best and biggest endorsement you can have. Every movie she's been in, she's been in control."
Caraway explained the secondary message of "Keep It a Secret," geared toward young females, encouraging them to dress more modestly, not wearing such revealing attire that exposes a lot of skin. "The girls are trying to keep up with the boys. We have to try to send a dual message out to say to the young ladies ... tighten it up," Caraway said. "You don't have to show just every single thing. Keep it a secret for a while."
Minister and psychiatrist Dr. Karen Hollie, supported Caraway's position.
"What we're all about is making our young women moral to where they represent our community and represent it well," said Dr. Hollie.
Caraway re-launched the anti-sagging campaign right before the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, instilling a message to the parents of potential saggers to not buy oversized clothes for their children.
"If you know that your son's waist size is a 28, you do not go buy them a 34," Caraway said. "Buy the size that they wear."
Caraway's crusade has captured national attention and used as a model in other cities. He appeared on the popular Dr. Phil show earlier this year to debate the subject. Hip hop artist Dewayne Brown aka Dooney Da' Priest came forward and composed a rap song, "Pull Your Pants Up!" which recently was nominated for a Stellar Award in the category of Rap/Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year.
Caraway said he recently spoke with rapper 50 Cent, who expressed his support for the program. He added that Dallas Cowboys Martellus Bennett and Ken Hamlin once sagged but have changed their positions.
Hall gave the youth a message of self-empowerment.
"I have always believed that every child has a right to positive praise," she said. "I also believe that every child has the right to knowing their importance. For some reasons, we are not telling our children that you are young gifted and Black or White or Brown.
"You are young gifted and powerful. Look like it."