The Morehouse Dress Code (Perspective from an Alumnus)

Posted: October 14, 2009 in Uncategorized
Perhaps the Fashion Institute of Key West would be more appropriate for you

Perhaps the Fashion Institute of Key West would be more appropriate for you

UPDATE: Since this still seems to be a topic of great debate, I wanted to get a sense of what gay folk’s opinions were and I found the following links in a google search of “what gay people think about Morehouse Dress code.” Not suggesting that the opinions offered are the end all be all of gay opinion on the matter, but I think they may shed some light on the issue from a different perspective:
Morehouse College Appropriate Attire Policy
October 2009

It is our expectation that students who select Morehouse do so because of the College’s outstanding legacy of producing leaders. On the campus and at College-sponsored events and activities, students at Morehouse College will be expected to dress neatly and appropriately at all times.

Students who choose not to abide by this policy will be denied admission into class and various functions and services of the College if their manner of attire is inappropriate. Examples of inappropriate attire and/or appearance include but are not limited to:

1. No caps, do-rags and/or hoods in classrooms, the cafeteria, or other indoor venues. This policy item does not apply to headgear considered as a part of religious or cultural dress.
2. Sun glasses or “shades” are not to be work in class or at formal programs, unless medical documentation is provided to support use.
3. Decorative orthodontic appliances (e.g. “grillz”) be they permanent or removable, shall not be worn on the campus or at College-sponsored events.
4. Jeans at major programs such as, Opening Convocation, Commencement, Founder’s Day or other programs dictating professional, business casual attire, semi-formal or formal attire.
5. Clothing with derogatory, offense and/or lewd messages either in words or pictures.
6. Top and bottom coverings should be work at all times. No bare feet in public venues.
7. No sagging—the wearing of one’s pants or shorts low enough to reveal undergarments or secondary layers of clothing.
8. Pajamas, shall not be worn while in public or in common areas of the College.
9. No wearing of clothing associated with women’s garb (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at College-sponsored events.
10. Additional dress regulations may be imposed upon students participating in certain extracurricular activities that are sponsored or organized by the College (e.g. athletic teams, the band, Glee Club, etc).
11. The college reserves the right to modify this policy as deemed appropriate.
*All administrative, faculty, students and support staff members are asked to assist in enforcing this policy and may report disregard or violations to the Office of Student Conduct. “

There’s a reason I highlighted #9. It’s because it’s the only regulation anyone gives a shit about. Follow me now:
I think it is a damn shame. Who cares if kids want to wear tutus, doo-rags, pumps or suits. I want every kid who is academically excellent and interested in being an effective leader in his chosen field to go to Morehouse – this doesn’t help.

Who gives a fuck if a kid wants to wear a mini-skirt to a basketball game. I can see how that *might* not be appropriate in the classroom, but at all college sponsored events? I love my alma mater but this is some hot bullshit. I just don’t think it is credible to say you are interested in competing with other private schools for one of the toughest “get” in academia – academically excellent black male undergraduates – and make these kinds of arbitrary restrictions.

There is absolutely no way the administration at other top tier schools we compete against for students would give one shit if you decided to wear “grillz” to the homecoming football game. I’d hope that if a kid shows up to his interview with a 1580, great leadership and a real interest in the college, that he wouldn’t be turned away because he likes to wear lipstick on Saturdays.

I wish my school was more concerned about effectiveness than optics.

-Bertram*, Morehouse Grad,-

This is crazy. Morehouse is not a damn country club. You got different dudes from different backgrounds that where different sh!t and then you got some real gay gays.

I don’t think the school should police the attire totally. I think events like Crown Forum and Freshman/Sophomore/Junior Assembly should still maintain a dress code. Everything else should be up to the student. Let them live and learn. If you come to the GS info session in timbs and jeans then don’t get mad when GS don’t hire your ass. You got to play the phony game if you want to win the prize. Everyone has seen the Morehouse website and the propaganda. You know the stereotype of the Morehouse dude before you get there.

What Morehouse NEEDS to do is stop letting trash come through it’s doors.

-Jermajesty*, Morehouse Grad,-
Ok yall, don’t hide behind “appropriate”. I didn’t beef w/ the no grills rule. I have a problem with the hetronormative tone to the rules.
-Sasha*, Howard Grad (read her blog on the topic here)-
So what’s my take, you ask? First let me state that I give a little money every month for the ACLU to support people’s right to gay marriage. I know two gay couples, one female and one male, who plan to get married in the next year and I support them both. When I was at Morehouse, My dormmate for a semester was gay. Why do I have to do all that explaining and caveating and up-front justfying my not being a homophobe?
Because I support this dress code
Here’s why. Morehouse is not Howard. Morehouse is not Harvard. It’s not UGA, it’s not Cal, and it’s not Kennesaw State. It’s the ONLY Historically Black All-Male college in the country. It’s not just a college. In many ways, Morehouse is one of the last bastions of resistance against an overpowering tide of black male underachievement, moral failing, and all-out coonery which has come to symbolize not only how others view American black males, but how more and more, American black people have come to view black males.
We get it, Big face hunneds

We get it, Big face hunneds

Waste of space
Waste of space
hanh!
hanh!
What’s the continuing thread in all of these gentlemen shown above? Simple. They’re buffoons (I started off with a different word but I took the edges off a bit). I don’t mean that in the sense that there’s something naturally wrong with them because of their race. They have each and individually taken up the mantle of behaving like the worst stereotypes of Black men that have been handed down to us for generations. Look at them. They look violent, unclean, efeminized, illiterate, or hood-rich, or some combination of the above. Straight or gay, light skinned or dark, short or tall, just take a look at the pictures above, and ask yourself in all truth if you can take any one of these depictions seriously? That has been what we have come to expect from the young black male, and in Tyler Perry’s example, the not so young. We’re swimming in people like this. People who aren’t employable, aren’t capable of taking care of a family, aren’t responsible, and aren’t safe. And they’re this way by choice. Remember that sociological experiment when the little black girl wanted to play with the white doll because it was “nice”? Well look above, and maybe you can figure out why, even at that young age she had developed her viewpoint. We’ve become a society of permisiveness. No standards. And if you look at the backward direction in which our community is going, well, the two aren’t divorced.
Morehouse is a private college. One that is responsible for educating the next generations of black businessmen, leaders, doctors, and success stories. It’s also a college. And in a colorblind, race-neutral world in which there were no historical precedents of black men being vilely depicted as either oversexed rapacious sexual predators, or neutered, effeminized pansies, I wouldn’t support this. College is a time to explore who you are and find out what you are. Want to smoke some weed? College. Want to research creole literature? College. Want to go help orphans in Guam while wearing guyliner and Liquid Leggings? College. But this is also the world in which we live in. It’s a world in which far fewer black males go to college then females, and once they’re there, far fewer graduate. I’m not saying a dress code that prevents people from dressing like goons or tagalogs from RHOA is going to change that. But it sends a pretty clear message to the people that want to go there: Get your fucking shit together. If you want to look like Plies, go somewhere else. If you want to sashay around in a tutu, go somewhere else. There’s a standard here. Something that’s sorely lacking in most black communities.
People who oppose the dress code throw around the world “heteronormative” a lot. And I understand where they’re coming from. #9 is pretty much geared towards gays. When I was on campus, the men with purses or women’s wear were pretty much all, well, gay. So some people want to take up arms that this is an anti-gay, homophobic action, an assault on gays cloaked as a manual for standards. But here’s the thing. No one’s saying you can’t be gay and come here. No one’s saying you can’t do whatever the hell you like off-campus. The reality is though, that just like straight black men who make an extreme effort to show their gold teeth and hold up their chain are an embarassment to black men everywhere, so are men in high heels and purses. You’ve chosen to be a stereotype.  Other gays cringe when they see you because you set them back. It’s a choice on how you carry yourself, and I’m ok with the college legislating away your choice to present yourself as a buffoon when your choices may have a negative impact on others.
You know, Plies went to an HBCU. And it fills my heart with pride that he didn’t go to Morehouse.
ADDENDUM: I’m really interested in the fact that a lot of people seem to think of clothing as a rights issue. Wherever I stand on the matter, why is it it’s only a rights issue for men that want to wear women’s clothes, and not for men that want to wear sagging Red Monkeys, Versace Shades, and a mouth full of gold teeth? I want to hear your opinion there.
Comments
  1. true2me says:

    you lost me after you said the COON word. Why they gotta be a derogatory black term used to describe lazy retarded black folk cause they embrace their own style that isn’t coporate WHITE America. Why if it’s non Whit-ish or non-european its COONISH (I HATE THE WORD COON) Seriously. I dont give two SHYTs what people wear while getting educated. I think when people pay their HARD EARNED money as an adult, they should be able to wear what the fugg ever they want. When they get PAID to look a certain way..THEN and ONLY THEN can you impose a dress code…otherwise..this is BS.

  2. true2me says:

    can a white man be a coon if he has on bright colors and a grill in his mouf or dress like flavor flav? Im just sayin..STOP USING COON

  3. Jamaal says:

    I think you show your stripes here when you decide to try and name how many gay friends and causes you donate to before launching into a blatantly homophobic screed. That’s no different than a white racist prefacing a comment about how black people are criminals with,”Look, I have like 4 black friends and speak to black people a lot…” We wouldn’t accept in that situation, and it certainly doesn’t fit now. If you want Morehouse to uphold a more traditional ideal of masculinity, an ideal that has a lot of homophobic garbage entwined within it, then fine. But don’t try and hide it under this desire to increase “standards” or by blaming individuals for how other people view the race. A person is responsible for themselves. Seeing a man wearing a dress doesn’t make people homophobic, it makes people people who were already homophobes cringe even more. Just as the list of “coons” mentioned doesn’t represent all black folk, they’re only embarassing to you because you know other people will unfairly equate YOU with them, when that is not the case. The thing you miss, though, is that people who would equate the ying-yang twins with black males, in general, were probably pretty racist in the first place. The problem is with their perception, not the twins. Should we encourage professionalism and standards? Of course. Can a dress code help with that? Most certainly. Is the specific mentioning of not wearing “women’s” garb homophobic? Hell yes. To pretend that it is not, or that is acceptable without recognizing the homophobia within is either incredibly naive or scandalously disingenuous on your part.

    Peace

    • Knew it was only a matter of time before the homophobe calling folks came out. Which is specifically why I noted those, because of my expectation that misguided people like you would take it there. You must have speed-read in your zeal to either play victim or to paint me as oppressor. My issue was less how the outside world looks at us then how we look at ourselves. I don’t want little black kids looking at the Yin Yang twins as role models, simple and plain. I want them to believe that’s not their ceiling. And if me supporting gay friends’ wedding plans but thinking men in pumps are buffoons makes me homophobic in your mind, then you really need to reevaluate the battles you pick.

      • Jamaal says:

        Some find men in pumps buffoons others think they’re simply expressing themselves in a way that’s different. You can find them to be buffoons but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the world looks at them that way or that other black folk looking at them are somehow irreparably harmed by that. Recognize where your prejudices and preferences come from. There are more than enough positive black role models out there. There always have been. It’s just that they’ve never been pushed big-time by the mass media and many people are raised to see them as an ideal. Having the ying-yang twins dress in suits isn’t going to change the content of their music. If you’re concerned about how black folk look at themselves then we should be ENCOURAGING that people live and express themselves freely and push the idea of the importance of their own humanity. Simply pasting a suit on a person doesn’t solve that.

  4. Belle says:

    i object, as you know from my blog, but about all of the rules. not just the purse and heels clause.

    grown men, adults, should be allowed to make decisions about their lives, like I don’t know, how to dress themselves. It’s something most people have done since about 10.

    i do think the students should be taught what is appropriate and what is not through some sort of etiquette class, and they should be tested on their ability to say, know how many breaks their should be in a professional suit pant leg or how to tie a Windsor knot. Give the information, tell them what the consequences are of choosing to do different, ie, not getting a job, being perceived as violent/dangerous, unprofessional, then give the option to abide or not.

    treating men like children, is not the answer.

    you know what you should do with your thoughts? write about it for “It’s A Man’s World at essence.com

    • Do I get to wear a tone on tone shirt/tie combination in my glamour shot? That’s always been my dream!

    • dnmppolitico says:

      As always I enjoy reading this blog however I have to point out that your use of the character of Madea in your argument is flawed though I understand why you would want to use her to strengthen your argument. Madea, unlike your other examples such as Dwight from the Real Housewives of Atlanta or Plies, is a character and is not the reflection of how the real person chooses to express their being through dress. Madea is not Tyler Perry but is played by Tyler Perry. Furthermore in the instances that Mr. Perry does appear off camera as Madea it is only in promotion of a film where he is playing the character of Madea. Tyler Perry is actually a good example for the Men of Morehouse on how you can dress professionally especially since he is in an industry that does not require its members, officially that is, to dress professionally every day.

      However, the main reason why I am choosing to comment, because I do feel that on some level only Morehouse knows how to deal with Morehouse, is because I have gone to a school where we have had a dress code. In my experience of living under a dress code, dress codes have the opposite effect on the students. Many students instead of embracing the rules/ideals of the dress code rejected them because it was forced on them instead of them accepting the ideals over time. My fear with this Morehouse Dress Code is that the Men of Morehouse will reject the idea of dressing in a suit and tie or in an otherwise professional manner and that this rejection will be reflected in how they choose to dress when they become Morehouse Men. I agree with Belle when she says that Morehouse should try to encourage students to dress in a way that reflects what a Morehouse Man is through an etiquette class or using traditions such as Crown Forum to show the students how a Man of Morehouse becomes a Morehouse Man via dress.

      This is a long response so I will leave it here. No matter what the administration chooses to do, I wish them luck! I think Morehouse is a great institution and a great training ground for young men; my critique is only because I care about the success of the school and the men who attend.

  5. Stephen says:

    I applaud the dress code. Morehouse is a private college whose goal is to shape global leaders. I’m tired of people saying these standard are heterosexist. It is inappropriate in any business setting, possibly outside of the fashion world, for men to wear woman’s clothing. As a school focusing on creating the next leaders of business, politics, education, law etc. it would be irresponsible to let these young men graduate without a sense of what the real world requires of them. Allowing these young men to wear dresses and oversized clothes is crippling them in a, no matter how little you want to admit it, extremely conservative business world.

    As for the “white people do it so why can’t we” any black man who lives in America knows that blacks are held to a different standard then whites. White boy wears polo jeans, he is just relaxing. Black boy wears coogi jeans and he is a thug. This is just how the media shows the street wear style, right or wrong. When you are the CEO you can wear what you want, until then you have to look the part, seriously. If you think otherwise I feel like your field must be very lax or your not in a serious business situation.

    • Jamaal says:

      Again, that’s an issue of already existing racism. A dude in coogi is seen as a thug because black males are already portrayed as thugs and criminals, anyway. Putting your ass in a suit isn’t going to make people, or society, necessarily less racist. Will you look slightly less stereotypical? Yeah, but any person who automatically equates streetwear with criminality probably thinks you to be inferior, anyway. And you can inform young men on what to wear without mandating restrictive rules like the ones being discussed here. There are many individuals who wear clothes that wouldn’t be deemed appropriate in a workplace environment and they know that because society gives you a whole lot of clues as to what’s appropriate. How about we give these young men some credit here. They are gay or cross-dressing men who live in a society that hates them. Just like black men know they have to act in different ways than white folk, gay black men certainly know they have to modify their behavior in different areas. They probably know it better than most heterosexual black men walking around.

  6. 05girl says:

    Belle,

    They probably do explain proper dress (with live examples) during new student orientation.

  7. Wait, Plies went to college? SAD!
    GREAT post Faraji. When are these coming out in a book?
    Love the blog.
    OG (the Eskimo)

    • Reecie says:

      Plies went to college and has a masters I was told awhile ago from my FL friends. he didn’t go to a HBCU though- University of South Florida I think.

  8. Great post! I loved how you used quotes from other alumni. I gave my take over at Belle. Ironic how I just did a post on Derek J and used one of his pics. And I’ll add that just because you don’t approve of men wearing women’s clothing doesn’t mean your a homophobe. I think that’s a tad extreme. It’s like saying you don’t approve of clothing your children wear so you disown/hate them. Not one in the same.

    Kudos on “It’s a Man’s World.” Looking forward to reading it.

  9. Let me say that while I disagree with some of the folks here, I think this is an important discussion, so I applaud all of you who are bold eough to walk into this minefield.

  10. The Lioness says:

    Ok- reading this dress code makes me appreciate the HBCU I attended so much. I don’t believe in attempting to stifle a person’s sense of style or personal fashion. My school let us have the freedom to dress how we wanted. We’d roll out of bed and go to class in our pajamas, guys had their boxers showing, dreads, grillz, alike. However, my school also had professional development courses that taught us that the world we were living in while in school wasn’t reality. They taught us how we should dress at interviews (because of who controls the process) and what to expect before launching us into the corporate world. I think that doing that alone is good enough without forcing students to conform to some corporate mold dictated by white America- especially when college is the time that most students are trying to find out who they are. Being surrounded by so many different types of ppl in their own dress made me realize that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. I’d have classes where a guy with a platinum grill, Timbs, and a doorag would pull straight As. I hate the fact that we often times believe in the same stereotypes about our ppl that other races do. And I hate the fact that we let white America control what’s good & bad/ right & wrong for us.

    • Reecie says:

      I agree. if the school (not Morehouse specifically, but others) allows for personal expression in everyday dress but also offers professional development, and has standards for certain events–it is a healthy medium.

      • Mike says:

        You have to understand, Morehouse is not like your school or any other. The Morehouse Man is a brand and this dress code protects that. The brand is what keeps the school open (unlike some other HBCUs) and graduating more Black men that any school in the country.

        I do disagree with the writer saying that this is more about how we feel about ourselves. I think its more about our presentation to the outside world. Just like you would tell any young man to where a suit to an interview, Morehouse is on display (and under scrutiny) everyday and the student body has to reflect the brand. If you are not interested in promoting that brand, apply to a regular school because Morehouse is not one.

      • Reecie says:

        @ Mike- below me (not sure why I can’t quote you)

        I know my school isn’t like Morehouse and that’s why I said not specifically Morehouse. Hearing the alum POV, I think you all are free to do what it is to ensure your “brand”.

  11. Pepe Sanchez says:

    I agree with the dress code in general. (I’m actually more ambivalent about it than anything else.)

    I stopped by to say that Morehouse does have a class that teaches proper etiquette and such. It’s called Leadership and Professional Development. (When I was there it was only required for Business majors) but most people who represented the college in some capacity (summer programs, Pre-freshmen programs) took a workshop version of the course.

    To Bertram’s* point, if a potential student looks at the dress code and decides that, balancing all that Morehouse offers a student that the dress code tips the balance in favor of not attending, then maybe Morehouse isn’t the place for him. I’m okay with that. It’s not for everyone.

  12. Tiffany In Houston says:

    I’m down for this like 4 flats. I suspect I am a little older than your target demo (I’m 36) but I totally agree.

    This is not about denying self expression or creativity or being heteronormative. The majority of us will end of working for someone else, keeping all things 100. Some of us will eventually work for themselves. And simply put, he who holds the gold makes the rules. Morehouse is simply teaching young men the rules of the game. Part of the game is dressing the part. Get blinged out on your own time. Get in the GAME, people. Then ONCE YOU GET IN THE GAME, then CHANGE THE GAME. I think that is the single biggest point that is being missed in this discussion.

    What irks me about millenials (of which my 24 year old brother is one of) is this right to just do what the fuck you want. In the abstract and conceptual world, you are certainly correct. In the real world, however, it’s a whole nother ballgame.

    And to address the wearing of women’s clothing: if you are a gay male, and in particular a flamboyant one, why would you even WANT to attend Morehouse?? I mean seriously, it’s not like the culture of the institution isn’t well known. It’s very traditional and very masculine in natural. Why wear shoes that make your feet hurt??

  13. BlkBond says:

    I agree with the administration, co-sign to Brandon and Jermajesty.

    First, aside from all of the attributes listed in the post, Morehouse is a private school. As a private school, the institution is free to regulate as necessary. For example, during homecoming, we are allowed to drink alcohol freely and in the open without repercussions; there is also restricted access to campus during the academic calendar. People do not complain (cannot really) about the drunken students/alumni or the limited access because of the private status.

    Second, consider the events that have taken place over the past few years:

    1. A homosexual student was beaten with a bat by another student who thought he was coming onto him. (Aaron price/Gregory Love)

    2. A student was killed for his refund check, doused with gasoline, and placed in the trunk of his car. (Carlnell Walker)

    3. A student was recently shot and killed by another classmate…and served no jail time. (Rashad Johnson incident)

    *(unrelated to the topic: student was shot on Oct. 13th after being robbed)

    The college is going through a process of re-examination that is (thankfully) affecting the student body. As the pillar of black male academia, these events have left a noticeable stain on the reputation that has trickled down to recruitment and contributions of the school.

    Third, I think this is heterosexist; but I agree with it. Morehouse is a religious-affiliated institution. It was founded in a church and the beliefs of Christianity is very prevalent among the staff, faculty, and student body. With that said, there is an overwhelming amount of students, faculty, alumni, etc. that do not agree with homosexuality and for years their has been backlash to change the image that has been associated with the school. This dress code (particularly number 9) is a form of deterrence to that.

    Fourth, college dress codes exist among PWI and larger institutions of higher learning. Illinois state instituted a ‘business casual’ dress code for B-school students; liberal arts colleges (Paul Quinn, Voorhees, Liberty), and some even regulate length of hair (Bob Jones). Too often there are black people (usu. those who have not attended/have no ties to HBCU’s) that gather strong opinions on what HBCU’s do during times of turmoil. Often, people like to compare HBCU’s with PWI when the clearly, the mission for many HBCU’s go above and beyond education and money.

    @Jamaal: What do you suggest the college should do? I tire of people like you who offer criticism, but never any solutions to problems that YOU take issue with; suggest an alternative then. I’ll wait…

    There is a class that teaches etiquette: Business & professionalism. Was taught by Prof. Mclaren (deceased) and Prof. White. When I was there, you were given a book teaching different ways to tie a tie, set place settings, etc. This was considered a ‘business’ class, thus, students in every major or discipline were not exposed to the information.

    I have spoken with alumni from the 70’s and 80’s who told me they were ‘interviewed’ and ‘drug tested’ before being admitted. By the time I arrived, this was no longer taking place, likely due to the stringent standards, however, in lieu of previous events noted above, they may need to get back to this.

    Bond. BlkBond. 01′

    • Jamaal says:

      The college should do with what? I’d be more than happy to offer an opinion on a solution to an actual question? I really don’t have an issue with what Morehouse says they want to do. As has been said many times already, they are a private institution. As such, they can do what they will. I’m simply saying we should call out that particular rule for what it is. It’s homophobic. It’s just as homophobic as business regulations that forbid natural hair styles are incredibly racist.

      • BlkBond says:

        Do you have a problem with the dress code as a whole, or only number 9? What would you suggest the college do instead of instituting a dress code?

        There are some places of work that do regulate hair styles based on the work that is done; Blue collar jobs that work around chemicials and heavy machinery often require low haircuts and little facial hair as a protective measure from chemicals, residue, or heavy machinery.

        As a Black Man I understand that some of these regulations have ulterior motives and undertones, however, you have a choice: you do not have to work at these places, nor do you need to attend a college like Morehouse or any other institution whose standards, beliefs, behavior, do not align with your own. Period.

        My alma mater is a private institution, we can do what the hell we want.

        Bond.

  14. Ga Dome says:

    As a graduate of morehouse I’m going to go ahead and side with the administration on this one. This institution is about preparting young black men for the real world that they are going to face when they leave her campus. In the real world if you want a real job you can’t walk around with your pants hanging off of your ass, grills or go into an interview dressed like a woman when you’re a man and expect to be taken seriously or get the position, or loan to start your business…period.

    I’m not a conformist by any means but the country has their eyes on us whether you want to beleive it or not so fools need to be on point. Plus aren’t there some studies that show you perform better when dressed well…I’m just sayin’

    On another note, for people who think that rule #9 is homophobic…you’re nuts. You can be a gay man and dress like a man. Just like the chains and sagging pants are played out so is a man wearing womens clothing and shoes…I cringe every time I see both.

    • The Lioness says:

      Sounds VERY conformist to me. If you choose to dress that way because that’s what you feel looks good/that’s your personal style then ok. If you dress that way to fit in and because others are watching you then that’s conformist. Not saying you are the only one because almost all of us are guilty of it. I’m just saying….

  15. Dylan says:

    I agree 110% with you sir. Life is about choices….if you choose to ‘express yourself’ freely then you can also look through your choices of where you can do just that without violating set standards.

    If the ‘pushers’ of coon-like behaviors want to go create an institution of higher education for its customer base then so be it…until then…private (and the public institutions who have balls) can start to make some serious changes in how they prepare their students instead of taking their money and continously ‘graduating’ students who are unable to compete (initially) in the real world.

    I am an HR professional and have seen my share of ‘unprepared’ students but it hurts me more when they are black males especially at HBCUs. There aren’t too many of us, we are losing ground fast and anything to stop the madness, I applaud.

  16. Mister says:

    I think when you are an HBCU graduate and working in the “real” world, you can appreciate more of what Morehouse is saying. Students have rights, but institutions do also. Jobs, at any time, can come out with mandates on restrictions on clothing, hair, tattoos, etc. Your rights are violated when the choice to abide by the rules is not extended to you and your are dismissed without just cause. Black people are always trying to challenge a system, but why do we accept buffonery, i.e., the pics shown above, but reject ideologies to strength us as a race. When rappers and actors become the poster men for the black race and say/do whatever they want to do, they are just doing them, but when we have an institution that is trying to uphold a standard for matriculating the cream of the crop for African American professional men, we jump on their backs.

    I didnt even graduate from Morehouse, but I applaud their efforts and hope many others get on the bandwagon. And for all those ridiculing, specifically arguing that they are trying to assimilate and emulate White America, I have a few questions for you. What planet do you live on? Where do you work? and What do you do? Because unless you work in a super relaxed environment like a radio station or manual labor, I’d like to know what job do you maintain where you can sag from your jeans, wear fitted hats and strut in pumps???? I’m just wondering….

  17. [...] ‘Round the time my show started, someone tweeted a link with the new dress code at Morehouse. Here it is. [...]

  18. Jamaal says:

    @blkbond

    http://www.bomanijones.com/blog/2009/10/14/best-way-to-be-a-leader-by-following-of-course/

    What problem is the school trying to “solve” here? You can have a professional, enlightened atmosphere without everyone dressing the same way. And yes, a person can choose to not work or attend any school they so choose, but let’s be real and recognize that people gotta eat and they gotta get educated. If someone wants to go to Morehouse and they have a penchant for wearing high heels, then why shouldn’t they? Can they not express themselves openly? I would say the same thing for a hoodie or even a grill, as ridiculous as they are. Also, let’s not pretend the jobs I was referring to involve the handling of dangerous chemicals or using heavy machinery…I’m talking jobs that involve you sitting in an office and typing on a computer, you know, the jobs that Morehouse grads are trying to get. What does it matter if you wear your hair in dreadlocks, a fro, or cornrows? All of those styles can be presentable, neat and fly as hell. How does that prevent one from being professional? The truth is that it doesn’t, and such office rules are often colored by racism. And you have a similar condescending attitude with this dress code. My man Bomani just put up a post about this that I think cuts to the heart of what I’m trying to express here. Check it out.

    • BlkBond says:

      Problems the school is trying to solve:

      1. eradication of black male stereotypes (see photos above)
      2. illiteracy and miseducation of black men
      3. restoring pride and self-worth among a demographic that is endangered (black men)
      4. enlightening the world’s perception of the black male
      5. placement of black men in non-traditional roles (archeologist, bio-engineers, etc.)

      et cetera, et cetera. I could go on forever, but hopefully you get the point.

      Morehouse is not asking people to just the same; they are noting how students should NOT dress. All other dress that is not enumerated can be construed as permissible; however, the disclaimer states that the school has the right to make changes.

      If someone wants to go to Morehouse and they have a penchant for high heels: they can either decide not to wear high heels or not go to Morehouse. It is a private institution. There is also mandatory symposium called ‘Crown Forum’ that is conducted inside of a chapel and overseen by a Reverand. If atheist have a problem with this also, they are welcome to choose another college/university as well. You are enlightened.

      Yes, they can express themselves openly: not on Morehouse’s campus or at events sponsored by the college. On their own time if they want to prance around in leggings or wear catsuits singing eddie murphy’s party all the time, that’s ok. Not really (laughs).

      I know you weren’t referring to blue collar jobs, I was f*cking with you. I wanted you to provide an objective situation that is not biased by your personal beliefs/feelings that is inclusive of all situations rather than only those you care about. Now my reply:

      There is nothing wrong with a fro, cornrows, or dreads; however, you are SEEKING the job, not HIRING. When you are in a position to dictate and determine attire in the workplace (your own or otherwise) then you opinion will matter, until then…it really doesn’t. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I speak honestly. As far as those hair styles being ‘fly’, that is subjective; employers may not think so, and with that said, as a man you have to decide if you want a job or if you want to be fly.

      Be mindful that Black people are still the ‘little brother’ with this assimilation thing. During the great migration, employers discriminated against many Italians for their long and shiny hair. Many cut their hair or stopped wearing their hair in certain styles for purposes of being hired. Once they were hired or obtained positions of authority they changed these rules & perceptions, however, it did not happen overnight.
      Why do some Black people think this is going to be any different for us? I don’t like it anymore than you do, but it is one side of the underbelly of American history: racism, classism, gender discrimination, etc.

      That was a bit of a tangent, but overall do you understand what I am trying to get at and how that relates to this? We cannot change things on the outside of these companies, government agencies, etc. until we become apart of them and institute change from the inside (word to W.E.B. Dubois). Telling a group of Black Men it is permissible to be successful by wearing dresses, grillz, du-rags, etc. in a country that is already against them is a disservice. There are exceptions to the rule, but they are just that: exceptions.

      I believe in the Morehouse mission and making it a reality, that was part of the reason I attended.

      I recall one day speaking with Dr. Williams about why these prestigious firms (Merrill Lynch, GS, PriceWater, Art Andersen, etc.) would only come to 3 or 4 HBCU’s. One of the reasons he listed was perceptions. Unfortunately, many of these companies still view these institutions as inferior. So they only come to ‘certain’ HBCU’s to recruit. Well, of course we know better than that. We go into these jobs and bare the brunt of criticism like yours so that we can open doors for brothers who feel as you do to come in as you are. Understand, that this only happens if someone (or institution) steps up, holding themselves and others to a higher standard that allows this to happen.

      I live for the day, when a Black Man can wear a kente cloth pattern to an interview with Goldman Sachs and still get hired, a Muslim woman can wear jibaabs to interviews without being turned down because of prevalent stereotypes, etc. however, this day has not arrived yet.

      I will check out his blog as noted, but consider what I have said here.

      Bond. BlkBond.

      • Mister says:

        Yes Black Bond YES!!!! Preach… I was ready to respond with so much, but I couldnt say it more eloquently than you!!!!!

        One small note – Jamaal – I have locks and had to deal with some ridicule as a rising coporate star, but I will also say when I came into my organization, I had the clean cut, well shaven look and that was who they saw. Once I got into my profession and proved myself through my research and execution, I sure did grow my locks and my goatee. Now i am pretty content with my position of power and they treat me the same BECAUSE they know me on a personal and professional level and know that I am not like “Lil Wayne, T’Pain” and all of the other black men in entertainment with locks that portray a certain persona.
        But I also understood when I decided to make this change that this “may” affect those perceptions of me in the workplace and that no matter HOW HARD I WORK TO PROVE MYSELF, I do not have the power to change someone’s perception. I dont think anyone is disagreeing with you persay, but I think what Blk Bond, myself and others are speaking from is reality and “It is what it is” and you are speaking from theory on “It shouldn’t be this way”. We agree, but reality trumps theory.

      • Jamaal says:

        I don’t disagree with you with how the world is, I disagree with the proposed solution. Simply by having black men dress in suits and wear short hair isn’t going to change the overall negative perceptions of black folk. This country hasn’t discriminated against black folk since its inception because dressed funny or because we had different hair, we were discriminated against because it was within the interest of the ruling classes for them to do so. That interest has turned into a cultural tradition. There has been a lot of pushback and change over the years but simply changing how folk dress isn’t going to make folk less racist. As to attacking illiteracy and miseducation, just how does not wearing what you want to class address that? Last time I checked, looking at what I wear had shit to do with what I was reading or learning in the classroom. For pride and self-worth, what about those men who attend the institution who want to wear women’s clothing, who think they look good in it and feel comfortable in it? Is it not better for their pride and self-worth to be able to express themselves openly and without fear? Should we not as good humans and black people try and make a world where EVERYONE can have pride in themselves?

        On the job placement thing…I’m not arguing that there are professional standards that people need to have in order to be accepted in certain positions. I’m simply saying that we need to recognize where those “standards” come from. Why should one have to come up with the short cut and clean shave in order to fool the white folk in charge that they’re not that different? Do you not see how fucked up that is? I ain’t sayin it ain’t true and you don’t gotta play the game. But institutions like Morehouse and other places should be leading a push with their corporate connections to get these industries comfortable with black people as they are. I’m in the development field, so my hair is really an issue, in fact, it probably lends me some cred, and I recognize that not everywhere is like that, but if you’re in an environment where people will dismiss your accomplishments and the words comin out of your mouth cause you got a beard, then there’s something seriously wrong.

        I’m simply sayin let’s recognize where this need to assimilate and play trojan horse comes from, and that’s from continued discrimination to this day. I’d love to see more educational institutions take a stand and educate the private sector about the inherent worth of a student’s ideas and skills than their appearance. Maybe one finds hopelessly naive in this environment, but all this dress code does is change the window-dressing of a person to make them more appealing to someone in power. And I just think that’s a damn shame.

  19. spitfire says:

    It seems very much like the military, they will train you to be all you can be, but leave those tutus, grills, etc behind closed doors or preferably at home. If you can’t deal with that, don’t enlist.

    Same thing here, you’re making a decision about your life when you give your tuition to a school; moreover, in doing so you agree to its rules. if you don’t like the rules, go somewhere else.

    although some want to wave the gay rights flag here for #9, i don’t agree since it’s one of my rules too: if you’re a man who likes to wear my clothes, i’m not the woman for you.

  20. Areefuh Stanklin says:

    I highly doubt this would even be a discussion if we were discussing VMI or West Point.

  21. Mister says:

    Jamaal,

    I hear you and almost agree with everything you are saying, but I simply believe it goes back to what I said earlier… There is theory and there is reality. Your theory is solid and I agree with it wholeheartedly… Reality however is how it is at this point. I dont see wearing suits and having the corporate look as selling out. There are Whites who would prefer to wear jeans, tee and big hole earrings to work too, don’t think its just us. But we all have to play the game and the game is conducive to the field that “YOU” as the individual choose to work. And you are forgetting one key factor as well… A black will discriminate against your work appearance quicker than a White will… Why, b/c you as a younger person, no matter what are a reflection of them. Please know that younger millenials who show that rebelious do it my way attitude get more push back from older black professionals over whites anyday. TRUST!!!!!

    Areefuh – so right, if this was VMI or West Point, it wouldnt even be mentioned… It is what it is…

  22. J Pierpont says:

    Morehouse has rules. Always has, alway will. I wore a suit and tie all of New Student Orientation week. I wore a suit and tie to Freshman Orientation. I wore a suit and tie to Crown Forum. I wore a suit and tie to LPD. I wore a suit and tie to Policy. I wore a suit and tie to certain club meetings. I was cool with it because I knew what I was getting into before I decided to go.

    Don’t like it? Don’t apply!

    Already there and don’t like it? Transfer!

    If a young man feels like his(her) need to fly his(her) thug/cross-dressing/bohemian/whatever flag during school and school-affiliated events outweighs the benefits of the Morehouse Experience, then I wish him(her) the best in finding the right fit.

    Morehouse isn’t the University of [insert your home state here] – it’s not for everyone. Morehouse does not have a stranglehold on educating black males. There are plenty of institutions that were “less restricitve” than Morehouse prior to this new dress code.

  23. ScorpioQueen says:

    Any of you who truly believes Morehouse’s standards are a “bad” thing have not stepped foot into corporate America. It’s the “accepting” attitudes of many of you that have allowed black men to find themselves in this position. If you had frowned down upon the sagging pants and do-rags way back when we wouldn’t be having this discussion. If many of you would state the obvious: It’s not okay for men to go around looking like women whether gay or straight we wouldn’t be in this position. Your liberal attitudes are the reasons we have this PROBLEM.

    The reality is black men have the HIGHEST rates of unemployment in this country. Black men walking around looking like thugs and dressing like women don’t help matters. What do you think a white recruiter’s reaction will be if he sees black men walking around Morehouse’s campus walking, talking, and dressing like women?

    Morehouse students who are against the policy should find a new school. Morehouse in the past few years has declined in reputation. The school use to be known as an excellent place for black men. Now it’s known for violence, homosexuality, sexism and rapes against women. This is probably the best thing the school could do to savage what little respect it has left.

    If you’re a man who wants to express himself by walking around in pumps then do it at some other institution. If you’re a man who has a problem with Morehouse’s dress code then transfer to a different school. It is beyond crazy that we have to be politically correct when it comes to this type of nonsense just because you don’t want your feelings hurt.

    If Morehouse is given a choice between your pump wearing flamboyant self and future enrollment of STRAIGHT black men I think they will choose the latter. I don’t have any children yet but I will not jump at the opportunity to send any son of mine to a school where grown men are walking around looking like they belong over at Spelman.

  24. Terry M says:

    There is a lot of controversy and debate over the recent Morehouse College “Appropriate Dress Policy.” Unfortunately, much of the negative feedback has focused on “individual rights of expression” and the issue of cross-dressing on campus. Yet the issue of individual rights has not adequately been discussed in these various forums. For example, is there an “absolute individual right” that is seperate from a private institutions right to establish certain standards? Also, are individual rights seperate and distinct from the rights of a community in which one resides? Of course, in the particular case of Morehouse College, have those who oppose the policy actually been deprived of there indivdual rights of expression? Perhaps not, since they do have the option of attending another college or university. This debate cannot overlook the fact that virtually all men of Morehouse chose this prestigious institute because of the very values and traditions that are now being widely disputed, questioned, and in many instances rejected. I am not suggesting that cultural norms are not static, but do perhaps shift and change over time. However, Morehouse College does attract many potential students and parents, corporate recruiters, potential donors, etc. Given such a long (142 years) history and tradition of setting certain standards and expectations that are a part of the “Morehouse brand” should individual rights to express oneself over-ride the goals, values and traditions of a private institution. The National Basketball Association (NBA) did not think so, broadcast TV news stations do not think so. Many organizations do not think so.

    Now as to the matter of cross-dressing. Although the media and many blogs have focused on this issue, it should not be interpreted at discrimination against gays (this is too easy and not a realistic argument, but one the easily evokes emtional responses). I am on the Morehouse campus every day, and I can state that there are a number of gay men of Morehouse who are not repressed or stiffled, and who are obviously gay in their dress and mannerisms. Most of these individuals where stylist clothes and look sharp. On the other hand, for a small segment of the student body who choose to cross-dress and corporate interviews, or other campus functions can one REALLY argue that this is appropriate? If the Morehouse policy is carefully read, it DOES NOT tell the students what to wear. Rather, it states eleven (11) exaplmples of what NOT to wear. Also, the policy does not state restrictions on one’s free time, as many have reported. Rather, the policy sets an expectation of appropriateness in the public spaces of the campus. Is this too much to ask for?

    With all due respect to changing fashion, youth culture, and contemporary times, some expectations and traditions ARE worth upholding. It’s easy to critize when one does not have to actually make a decision. On the other hand, it take a degree of courage to take a stand on a controvresial issue that MANY support, but are afraid to take the heat!

  25. transitioncm says:

    I agree and I wrote about it here –> http://imntransit.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/morehouse-dress-code-get-over-it/

    I wrote it from a perspective of someone who DID NOT go to an HBCU.

  26. Nikki says:

    THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I’m sorry but I’m mad Morehouse even had to issue this dresscode. You think Princeton or Harvard would have to issue some shyt like this? NO. Why? Because folks have got it in their heads that they need to ‘keep it real’ at all times. If you wanna wear womens clothing then take your ass to art school and wear what you want. Really. Its not rocket science. Grills, pants saggin off your ass, du rags, pajamas – all of that is inappropriate attire. You wouldnt wear it to a 9-5 job so why would you wear it to class?

    And coonery is coonery! I dont give a damn where it originated. Some of these fools are out here shuckin and jivin, acting like straight up COONS. Pull ya pants up and act like you have some sense. Damn.

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