by Dr. Boyce Watkins.
Just a few days ago, a college football player was booted off a US Airways flight for having sagging pants. As it turns out, sagging pants is considered to be worse than a man wearing nothing but a pair of panties. A US Airways spokesperson confessed as much on Tuesday, as she had to try to explain the inexplicable double-standard.
A photo of the man wearing panties was provided to the San Francisco Chronicle by Jill Tarlow, who was a passenger on the flight. Tarlow said that quite a few passengers complained, but US Airways employees did nothing. US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder said that she received the photo of the man in panties before the sagging pants incident, but that the employees were correct to not ask the man to cover himself up.
“We don’t have a dress code policy,” Wunder said. “Obviously, if their private parts are exposed, that’s not appropriate. … So if they’re not exposing their private parts, they’re allowed to fly.”
What’s most interesting and contradictory about Wunder’s statement is that she had nothing to say about the incident involving Deshon Marman, a football player from the University of New Mexico. Marman had been pulled off a flight to Albuquerque and even arrested after he refused to pull his pants up in response to an employee’s request. Marman’s attorney says that surveillance video proves that the young man’s skin was not visible.
Marman was taken into police custody when he refused to get up from his seat on the plane. He was then booked on suspicion of trespassing, battery and resisting arrest. He is now at risk of having a criminal record for doing something that would have been overlooked if he’d been a white male drag queen wearing panties.
“It just shows the hypocrisy involved,” said Joe O’Sullivan, Marman’s attorney. “They let a drag queen board a flight and welcomed him with open arms. Employees didn’t ask him to cover up. He didn’t have to talk to the pilot. They didn’t try to remove him from the plane – and many people would find his attire repugnant.”
O’Sullivan then said, “A white man is allowed to fly in underwear without question, but my client was asked to pull up his pajama pants because they hung below his waist.”
Note to Deshon Marman: Your status as a black man in America implies that you do not have access to basic freedoms and liberties that other Americans can enjoy. In fact, you’re not quite a man….you even get less respect than a drag queen wearing his underwear in public. This second class citizenship is especially prevalent when dealing with law enforcement and corporate America, where a young black male college student can be quickly criminalized because he refuses to follow the orders of an overzealous and possibly racist flight attendant. It doesn’t matter if you’re in school creating a better life for yourself – in the eyes of some, you’re simply a thug who hasn’t yet learned his place in society.
Most interesting is that the US Airways crew member insisted upon making Marman get off the plane after the young man had already taken his seat. If his pants were sagging (I am not a fan of sagging pants, to be honest), the fact that he was already seated strongly suggests that no one would be able to see the back of his pants anyway. Their decision to push the issue even though Marman was already sitting down, as well as the fact that US Airways (according to their spokesperson) does not enforce a dress code on it’s passengers, makes this a clear case of racial discrimination.
Someone should pay a price for this one.