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NYS Senator Turns to YouTube to "Stop the Sag"

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, April 1 2010

It's more usual to see politicians using YouTube to campaign, highlight a speech clip, or make a political pitch on some contentious issue on the table. But New York State senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn is going a slightly less well-trod path, circulating a short, somber video in which he lays out an argument against low-slung pants. You might think Adams' "Stop the Sag" campaign is a diversion from more pressing matters. Or you might think it's some straight talk that speaks to a much bigger cultural concern. But Adams is using YouTube in a way that some of us celebrated way back when as a way to make sustained direct-to-voter political arguments. (Even if "sustained" here means two minutes. Hey, it's longer than Adams would get on New York 1.)

As Adams' video opens, images of racial stereotypes from popular American culture gone by fill the screen, from "Sambo" cartoons to a product called chop suey specs. Adams connects those damaging displays with the wearing of low-slung pants by young black men on the streets of New York. "Let us not be the ones to make our communities seem foolish," intones Adams. "You can raise your level of respect if you raise your pants."

Adams "Stop the Sag" video, which is part of a multimedia campaign that also includes billboards, has attracted more than 50,000 views on YouTube since it was posted last Friday.