Monday, August 13, 2007

White Tee

In the story I linked to below, Bart Campolo mentioned that the guys on the corner all wear white tees. Here's why... the hip hop group, Dem Franchize Boyz and their song "White Tee". Here's a link to the lyrics. Such is the power of music.

8 comments:

thaberean said...

Certainly believe in the power of music, and in the cyclical impact of artists on society and society on artists. But, white tees were the rage in the 'hood long before this song became a hit...

Arloa Sutter said...

Shows what I know... so I am guessing its cuz tees are affordable. In the song there is a reaction to name brands, "We don't wear Guess". So the song became a hit because it described what was, but it wasn't the cause, right?

Westy said...

Okay, here's the way I understand it, and I think there was an article on this in the Tribune a while back. I have the feeling the phenomenon happened similarly across the nation and this song just reflects the cultural change in what's cool.

So a decade ago, gang members marked their membership by wearing certain colors. Bloods, for instance, wore red, and Crips, blue. This proved to be a little too good an identifier because not only did fellow gang members pick up on it, but police and schools did too. As a result, schools began requiring kids not to wear colors; they didn't want the gang presence coming inside the school and only white was allowed. Still wearing the colors became a real marker. The police could easily identify and note, hey, that kid's in a gang, let's watch him. While there hadn't been the onus on wearing colors, it was cool for all kids to wear colors, even non-gang members emulating the ‘cool’ kids. However, once the police and schools began to discipline, arrest, and/or harass over the color you wore, it became less so.

The gangs of course responded to this. Soon after schools began requiring the white tees, they noted, "Hey, if we wear white tees too, they [police, etc] won't know if we're gang members or kids going to and from school." Lo and behold, the color of gangs on the street became white. While they still found other ways to sport their colors, it was no longer so easily identified. With the 'cool' gang members wearing the plain white tees, rappers began wearing them. And sure enough, it's now cool for any kid to wear a plain white shirt, an outfit that only a few years ago was scorned as a school 'uniform'.

That's the way I understand it, and I guess it makes sense. Anyone else have further explanation?

Westy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Westy said...

Here's an example of this being cited by Chicago police.

Aaron Roy said...

Westy,
I really think you are over thinking this white tee thing Westy.
The white tee fad is no different than any other fad in the urban setting. It is just like the "air force one" thing and the "let's wear pink thing." Youth will be youth and it just so happens that urban youth are the best trend setters.

Relax Westy!

peace,
aaron

thaberean said...

westy's on the right track. a couple of years ago (shortly before the white tee song came out) i was a principal intern at a typical neighborhood school on chicago's west side. their uniform was a white tee and black jeans,which to me is no uniform, so i asked the principal why that uniform. i was told about the gang thing, how it was to avoid gang colors. the principal also noted that gangs have now switched to white tees. when i asked why the white tees were not changed as the uniform then, i got no response... so, westy's not overstating or overreacting (plus he gave us an article as proof).

the original posting, though, got at if rappers influence culture or culture influences rappers. i think the guy said it earlier: yeah. both. so, guess what needs to be changed when the influence is negative? both. not just rappers.

sarah said...

After talking to some friends on the West side and using personal knowledge, white tees are inexpensive as can be. You can find them at any corner store for darn near close to two dollars. And we all know a brand new white anything looks good! I think its like what came first chicken or egg thing. Did it become cool to wear a white tee because it was so cheap or because it was so cheap and all the kids were wearing them was it recognized as cool?