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Morehouse College targeted by gay students

October 12, 2010

I spoke deeply about our education system, to include our higher learning institutions’ roles and activities in my latest book. Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Black educators have a fiduciary duty towards our matriculating students outside of simply earning a paycheck. However, what happens when schools try to enforce civil behavior, social norms, or societal principles? Are they stepping outside of their boundaries? Should academic settings focus solely on academic instruction and stay free from behavioral attributes? Vibe wrote an article that is being a firestorm. Here’s an editorial that appeared at


By: Gregory P. Kane,

Say you’re young, black and male. You have the smarts to get into the prestigious, excellent HBCU known as Morehouse College. It’s the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr., among others. It has a storied history and cherished traditions.

So you get admitted and stroll on to the campus dressed like … Lil Wayne or Miss Jay from “America’s Next Top Model?” Who thought THAT was a good idea?

Apparently enough young black men at the male-only college that it was necessary for the school’s president, Robert M. Franklin, to issue a revised dress code. Morehouse men can’t wear do-rags or pajamas outside of residence halls, sunglasses in class or jeans at some campus functions. Also verboten are dental grills, women’s attire and pants sagging down over the butt.

Why was it even necessary for Franklin to tell a Morehouse student that pants down over the butt is not permitted? Who goes to a prestigious college like Morehouse to look like a thug?

I’ve written it before, but it’s necessary to write it once more. Some things are like drive-through prostate exams: they should just never happen. And rocking the thug look should never happen on Morehouse’s – or, for that matter, on any other HBCUs’ – campus.

Now, there have been some anal types ranting in cyberspace that since the new Morehouse dress code bans guys from dressing in women’s attire, it is essentially homophobic. But the homophobic duck won’t swim in this case. There are enough things banned on the list to prove that gays – or cross dressers who aren’t gay – weren’t  singled out.

Besides – and I’m sure supporters of gay rights already know this – not all gay men like, or even approve of, men dressing like women.

Franklin’s point is simply this: When you come to a college like Morehouse, be prepared for an environment that’s going to prepare you for a world where you will attempt to make your mark by displaying excellence. And in that world, there may be certain rules. Some of those rules might include a dress code. It’s best you get used to the discipline of a dress code at Morehouse, and not have it sprung on you once you get in the work force.

Some of the Internet ranters have taken black conservatives to task for supporting Franklin’s position, and I’m not surprised. When all else fails, blame a white Republican or a black conservative, even if the issue is one where people of different political parties and philosophies can agree. Pearl Cleage, one of my favorite writers ever, is hardly a babbling conservative. Here’s her take on the Morehouse dress code debate, taken from her Facebook page:

“Morehouse College has a new dress code that says no women’s clothing, sagging pants, pajamas in public, do-rags, inappropriate T-shirts. How about a uniform that everybody wears all the time? Cuts down on expenses, fosters community among the men and hopefully cuts down on seeing so many random behinds in those sagging jeans!”

Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats can agree about that sagging pants thing, can’t we? Sometimes it’s just necessary for the older generation to close ranks and tell the younger generation: “Stop it; you’re being stupid.”

And there are few things more stupid than those sagging pants some – thankfully, not all – young black men choose to wear. I’ve seen some even try to run from the police wearing sagging pants that hang down over the butt, hardly able to move, tripping over the pants that drop down to their knees in the process. They’re too daft to realize that they’d be much better off just forgetting about the pants and going out in the streets in just their underwear.

Now, I realize I may have just put another goofy idea into some very young, impressionable and silly heads. But think about it a second. We’re already seeing the underwear of these clowns anyway. Since they’re so determined for us to see their underwear, we have to ask the inevitable questions: Why exactly are you even bothering to wear pants? Why not just wear the underwear?

Or, if they really wanted to make an original, cutting-edge statement, they could wear the underwear over their pants, on the outside. They’d have thus made underwear outerwear and started an entirely new fashion trend.

They should just make sure to stay away from Morehouse College if they do. Franklin has spoken, and he’s made it clear.

If you want to be a Morehouse man, come to Morehouse. If you want to be a clown, join the circus.

(Get into the conversation. Go to www.theblackinfrastructure.coma and your copy of “Rebuilding the Black Infrastructure: Making America a Colorless nation.)

Devin Robinson is an economics professor in Atlanta, GA and author of Blacks: From the Plantation to the Prison and Rebuilding the Black Infrastructure: Making America a Colorless Nation. He can be reached at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Jones permalink
    October 24, 2010 3:05 am

    Seriously? When did we get here?

  2. Briana permalink
    January 6, 2011 7:40 pm

    I guess the clothes make the man

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