The Rev. Jesse Jackson came to town this week and promptly took Hinds County Supervisor Kenny Stokes to task for his campaign against saggy-pants. If Stokes and other leaders don't focus on what's actually important in children's lives, "people will be arguing about sagging pants, and not sagging (access to) computers. Sagging pants, not sagging salaries," Jackson said.
For reasons unclear to us, Stokes is putting remarkable energy into the unconstitutional regulation of young people's clothing. Meantime, the ward he and his wife, Councilwoman LaRita Cooper-Stokes, represent is in serious trouble.
Significantly, it loses too many of its smart young people as soon as they get old enough to get the heck out of Dodge. They either move for college and never return, or they go to other parts of the metro. We don't place all the blame on the Stokes' front porch, but we do call on them to form alliances that will help the ward, not waste people's time on an effort sure to fail in the courts and, as Jackson said, takes the attention off the greater needs of Jackson's challenged families. Smart young people aren't going to stay in communities whose leaders think that criminalizing clothing—or, for that matter, attacking duplexes with sledgehammers, which Stokes condoned—is going to lift the quality of life.
Stopping brain drain will. A 1991 study by University of Illinois sociologist Jonathan Crane found that neighborhoods need "high status" professional residents to keep young people on the right track. When that group drops below 5 percent, teen pregnancy and dropout rates explode. We call on Mr. and Mrs. Stokes to lead an effort to get successful young professionals to stay in or move to Ward 3. They can start by stopping silly fashion-police initiatives.