Morehouse bans casual clothes and women’s clothing!!??!!

I spent an hour and a half of my midterm-studying time on Wednesday engaging in a debate on the new dress code at the historically black male college, Morehouse. Read what’s included in the “11 expectations” of students and weep:

No caps, do-rags and/or hoods in classrooms, the cafeteria, or other indoor venues

No sun glasses worn in class or at formal programs

No jeans at major programs, as well as no sagging pants on campus

No clothing with derogatory or lewd messages either in words or pictures

No wearing of clothing usually worn by women (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events.

While I have never been an attendee, I have spent some time at black colleges and universities as an organizer. And the class stratification that goes on is intense. With respect to the dress code, it’s not my wish to get a view of anyone’s coin slot on my way to Public Management (re: sagging pants). And there is no doubt that my quality of life goes down when I see men advertising sexist pictures of women that display their sexuality and nothing else (re: derogatory or lewd…).

However, it seems to me that Morehouse is instituting a de facto
uniform that normalizes and privileges the upper-class,
gender-conforming, cissexual, heterosexual, black male who has an array
of suits, neck ties, slacks and other fixtures of that life.

part of me wants to go out on a limb and say that maybe some of the
decision-makers enacted this policy because they
know a thing or two about the disadvantages black men continue to face
in this culture. They may have seen this paternalistic measure as
saving black men from themselves. Maybe they saw this policy as a
shortcut to social justice. Perhaps it is too lofty to bring black
males into full equality by advocating for a world where they could
truly be valued for their intellect despite their class or gender
presentation. Morehouse has chosen to advocate for an exterior
presentation that privileges men bound for corporate America and
negates the future organizers and
Steve Jobses. They have simply ignored
the fact that college students — with their mounting loan debt and
shrinking discretionary income — have decreased access to this uniform
they’ve institutionalized.

But this goes beyond classism. The policy is blatantly
discriminatory against trans folks and gender non-conforming men. This
policy is about sacrificing one brand of black male to uphold another. This is about silencing a demographic of black males
that these privileged, elitist, Morehouse men desperately need to learn
from. And I can’t for the life of me understand how a community that
could write a collective anthology on marginalization and oppression
could be unapologetic about doling it out to their own. Everyone should
have a basic right to be who they are, especially at college–a time of
growth, development and identity formation. The administrators at
Morehouse should be ashamed of themselves.

Morehouse College’s “Appropriate Attire Policy.”

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