03 December 2010

Morehouse Appropriate Attire Policy.

The recent controversy at Morehouse College regarding the implementation of their dress code policy has sparked a long overdue conversation amongst the young African American community regarding sexuality and race.

In the times of legislation such as Proposition 8 and shows like Glee and Modern Family, one would think that the ever present stigma attached to homosexuality would be extinct, however, little strains of homophobia can still be found if you look hard enough.

“I’m as open-minded as they come, but gay people have to realize that there is a certain level of repugnance [that] America, especially black America, has built up towards the idea of homosexuality. As harsh as it may sound, it’s not something that can be cured overnight or even over the span of a few years,” says 21 year old student and musician, Justin Williford of Memphis, TN.

Over the past year, Morehouse college has received major scrutiny over their “appropriate attire policy”. The dress code states that students, referred to as “Renaissance Men”, are not allowed to wear caps, du-rag’s, sunglasses, or sagging pants on the schools campus or at college sponsored events. The most eye-raising part of this code, however, is the rule regarding women’s clothing: no wearing of dresses, tops, tunics, purses, or pumps.

“We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress in a way we do not expect in Morehouse Men.”, says Dr. William Bynum, Jr., Vice President for Student Services as gathered by CNN.com.

The four or five students he is referring to have been dubbed “The Plastics” (taken from the movie Mean Girls) by some of their heterosexual peers.

Following the implementation of the dress code policy, Morehouse College received a substantial amount of backlash and even had several homosexual students, some wearers of women’s clothing, transfer to other universities. Many of whom said that they felt singled out by the dress code policy.

“…even at this early of an age, it is very noticeable that some of the boys in my class are becoming more feminine than their male peers. While I see nothing wrong with this it just goes to show that some things are innate. These are babies, this isn’t something they’ve learned. It’s who they are and as a society, we should not make them feel ashamed for this,” explains 35 year old 4th grade teacher Lakata Jackson.

Before articles had been published and news hit the air waves, Morehouse president, Professor Robert Franklin, wrote a letter to college alumni in he expressed his distaste. Alumni and students alike have banded together, enraged that the prestigious university is now being reduced something other than.

“I’m all for homosexual equality, but if you eventually want to transition into a woman why even enroll at Morehouse?”, says 20 year old education major and Nashville native Jasmine Anderson. She is not alone in feeling this way.

Though we may sympathize with the four or five individuals this policy seems to target, we must take in to account things from another perspective.

As a male who eventually plans to take the journey into womanhood, why apply to an all male college at all? Also, as a privately funded institution, Morehouse College reserves the right to implement whatever rules and regulations they see fit.

“I think the dress code is ridiculous and offensive. I don’t see much difference in this situation and the hundreds of individuals who were tormented and beaten for sitting at lunch counters and using water fountains all because of the color of they’re skin. It’s a sad time when people are punished for things that they can’t control,” states Chaz Pirtle, 20 year old Mass Communications major of Nashville, TN.

No matter how you feel about the Morehouse dress code policy one thing is for certain, in this time of newly accepted self awareness, institutions like Morehouse and hundreds of others across the country are going to have to learn how to effectively deal with this new issue of human sexuality.

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