The following, in its entirety, is a letter to the editor that appeared in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer:
"In my opinion, the new NBA dress code is a flagrant example of institutional racism."
Spare me, Ms. Jepson.
If we have come to the point where merely expecting professionals to dress appropriately is racist, then the word has no meaning.
Suits, jackets and "business casual" wear may not be "authentic" products of the 'hood, but they are no more oppressive than any other uniform--including the baggy pants, oversize sweatshirts, baseball caps and bling-bling that are the hip-hop standard. If anything, it's racist to suggest that someone wearing street wear will be accepted as an equal in the corridors of power. If you don't believe this, let me try wearing a T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops to a meeting at the White House. Or--if you're white--you try it and see what response you get.
What NBA Commissioner David Stern has done with the new dress code is send a powerful message: We're grownups. It's time we looked like them. You may not like this, but clothes do make the man. People attach meaning to a person's style of dress. The meaning most people--including a sizable number of blacks--attach to hip-hop fashion is: All they're interested in is running the streets and gettin' over. To borrow from 50 Cent, these folks ain't gonna get rich, but they just might die tryin'.
Is this really what we want our kids to grow up to become?
No, Ms. Jepsen, you've got it backwards. What's racist is perpetuating a double standard that says we will never beat Whitey at his own game, and therefore there's no point in us looking like we want to.