Clothing Worn by a Social Group in My Area
- I currently substitute teach in the East Chicago, Indiana public
school system. The schools require a quasi-uniform of the students,
in order to prevent students with gang affiliation from advertising
same. I have attached a scanned copy of the policy, which gives its
own reasons, some of which I think are slightly inflated as to effect
(school spirit). In addition, kerchiefs worn around the head are
banned (gang sign), and students of both sexes are required to remove
hats/headgear inside the school building. There was recently a spat
with a junior high student and parent, both practitioners of Wykka
(sp?), because the student had some jewelry with a pentagram. For
her the pentagram had religious significance, and she wanted to wear
it on Wykka holy days, at least. For school administrators, the
pentagram is gang sign, and prohibited. The parent and student
agreed to voluntary compliance with the policy, and did not pursue
the threat to their religious freedom.
Here's some background on gangs in my area, and on my area. East
Chicago, Indiana occupies approximately 13.5 square miles. About 9
of those miles are the property of heavy industry and its support
businesses, the remainder is available for humans. The neighborhood
I live in was built in 1918 as housing for workers in a now defunct
steel mill called Mark Manufacturing. It was designed by Chicago
establishment architect Howard van Dorn Shaw to resemble an English
village, which it pretty much does. The neighborhood is still called
Marktown, and is surrounded on 3 sides by steel mills, on the 4th
side by an oil refinery (the oldest continuously operating refinery
on this particular planet) and on all sides by the almost
unimaginable stupidity and 19th century style corruption of the East
Chicago political machine.
Our resident gang is a branch of the 415, which aficionados may
recognize as originally an Oakland, CA gang: 415 was the area code
for their neighborhood. How it came to be here I can't say, and
there's not much point in asking the local `bangers' or `wanna-
be's'. They can only tell you that the gang is here, it's always
been here (that last is, clearly, not true). Drug-wise, East Chicago
and surrounding townships are divided up pretty precisely Marktown
has the `weed' franchise. There is no `crack' here. Which is nice.
In between July 4th picnics, there is almost no evidence of guns.
The younger gang members and `wanna-be's' patrol the neighborhood in
all weather, but in the winter their clothing is only distinguishable
by its somber colors from the general run, owing to compromises with
their parents financial abilities, and with the severe weather
characteristic of "`da Region". In summer the gang `uniform' can be
clearly distinguished. The boys wear black oversized pants and black
oversized tee-shirts featuring some of the more obnoxious punk groups
or rappers. Underneath the tee-shirts the pants ride low, so that the
wearer may flash some "Appalachian cleavage", should he desire to
express contempt at any time. They also wear neckerchiefs, usually
around their necks, but sometimes tied in a sort of turban around
their heads. The oversized clothing is intended to conceal weapons --
which in this neighborhood only their fathers can afford -- also
cell phones, beepers and laser pointers. More precisely, the
clothing is intended to convey that the wearer may have any or all of
these things, so watch out for him! Their shoes also appear to be
oversized, featuring a kind of built-in platform, or possibly an air
The girls are not gang members, but those that "hang with the
bangers" have their own uniform: they wear incredibly short, tight
black skirts, platform shoes, skimpy blouses and large amounts of
gold jewelry. Their hair is very long (the boys' is very short),
usually straight and without adornment. However, there may be a
small braid, or a few silky bangs.
I infer from the "Uniformity of Colors Policy" that East Chicago
School City has decided to fight fire with fire. Gangs are not
dangerous because boys may play with fire. They're dangerous because
some group of adults somewhere else profits from that play, and funds
that fire. Schools that enforce their own uniform code are making
the statement that they are the biggest gang in town. You must be in
school (in our gang), and you must wear our colors while you are
here. Please note the colors: red, white and blue. We don't just
parade, we enforce! The result, combined with a slowing economy, has
been to push the age of Initiation up slightly (if they're still in
school, they're still just `wanna-be's'). This is good.
Uniformity of Colors
City of East Chicago
Over the past several years, many parents and community members have
urged the School City of East Chicago to adopt a Uniformity of Color
Policy as a means of countering the influence of gangs, minimizing
disruption and improving the learning envíronment.
In response the Board of School Trustees on May 20, 1998 officially
adopted a mandatory Uniformity of Color Policy for all students
attending the East Chicago Public Schools. Our schools have the
fundamental responsibiiity of teaching and acquiring academic
achievement for all students; individual schools cannot do this job
alone. The policy of the Board of School Trustees can make their
tasks easier but if we are to succeed, it will take a total
commitment from parents, students, teachers and community.
The Board of School Trustees believes that the adoption of a
mandatory Uniforrnity of Color Poiicy at the elementary, junior, and
senior high schools will simplify proper dress for school
attendance. We know that dress significantly influences behavior.
In our schools, we have seen its influence on dress up days and
school spirit days. We have also seen in the schools that have
adopted the Uniformity of Colors a "coming together", greater school
pride, and better behavior, in and out of the classroom. Moreover,
with the elimination of gang attire, all of the students at these
sites are safer, and less intímidated or threatened.
The mandatory Uniformity of Color Poiicy is defined as follows:
Solid Navy blue 'bottoms". (No logos or insignias other than offícial
recognized designer labeis) Navy blue pants, appropriately sized (no
baggy/saggy pants,) skirts, skorts, culottes, jumpers, and knee
length or longer shorts. Jeans, sweat pants, nylon athletic pants
and/or spandex wear will not be acceptable at any time.
Solid Navy blue, Red, or White "tops" sweaterslsweatshirts. .(No
logos or insignias other than official recognized designer labels)
Solid color navy blue, red, or white long or short-sleeved shirts or
blouses, with collars, polo shirts, T-shirts (not undershirts,)
turtlenecks and solid navy blue, red or white sweater/sweatshirts.
Solid colors Navy blue, Red, White or Black dress or athletic shoes.
(No logos or insignias other than official recognized designer
labels) Belts, shoes and shoelaces must be solid color.
Student's failure to comply with the above Uniformity of Color Poiicy
will lead to the following disciplinary actions:
FIRST INFRACTION - Phone parent, sign district letter, student uses
district Uniforrnity of Colors, letter sent if parent is not
contacted. STUDENT PECEIVES ONE (1) DETENTION. (Jr. & Sr. High
School student receives one-day in-school suspension)
SECOND INFRACTION - Phone parent, sign district letter, parent must
conference with building principal or designee, student uses district
Uniformity of Colors, letter is sent if parent is not contacted.
STUDENT WILL NOT BE ALLOWED ADMISSION TO SCHOOL WITHOUT PARENT
CONFERENCE WITH THE BUILDING PRINCIPAL tor Principai's designee).
STUDENT RECEIVES TWO (2) DETENTIONS. (Jr. & Sr. High School student
receives two days in-school suspension)
THIRD INFRACTION - AUTOMATIC ONE DAY HOME SUSPENSION. With the
student retuming the following day properly clothed in Uniformity of
Additional information regarding the Uniformity of Color Policy can
be obtained from the building principal
- Sorry, I hate to nitpick, but I have a few questions here...
--- In CostumeHistoryClass@y..., turpinrs2001@y... wrote:
> hats/headgear inside the school building. There was recently a spat
> with a junior high student and parent, both practitioners of Wykka
> (sp?), because the student had some jewelry with a pentagram. For
> her the pentagram had religious significance, and she wanted to wear
> it on Wykka holy days, at least. For school administrators, the
> pentagram is gang sign, and prohibited.
The *pentagram* is a gang sign? Since when, and where? Although Wicca
may be classified possibly as a social group, it is no more a "gang"
than the preps, jocks, cheerleaders, theater kids, or geeks are a
"gang". Did the school administration have a logical explanation for
this theory of Wicca being a gang and not a religion?
> Our resident gang is a branch of the 415, which aficionados may
> recognize as originally an Oakland, CA gang: 415 was the area code
> for their neighborhood.
San Francisco and the SF peninsula, actually. Oakland was always 510
area code. :) And the "exportation" of California gangs is apparently
common; I hear there are "branches" of the Crips, Bloods, and Crenshaw
Mafia (originally from LA) in various regions in the midwest.
All the interviews I've seen with them have been pretty
fruitless; they claim that they're a "branch", but no LA Crips have
ever heard of Kentucky Crips. I'm guessing it's imitation; much like
white suburban boys have been doing in the past couple of years.
Amusingly enough, two years ago, the entire peninsula (from just south
of San Francisco itself all the way down to Sunnyvale) changed over to
the 650 area code. I wonder what the 650-area 415 members did about
their name? I sure don't see it tagged around as much anymore. ;)
> The boys wear black oversized pants and
> black oversized tee-shirts featuring some of the more obnoxious
>punk groups or rappers.
Now I'm *really* nitpicking, but gangstas listening to punk bands?
This is a new one to me. Everywhere else, the gangsta wannabe kids
usually make fun of/beat up punks, and have been known to tag "PUNK IS
DEAD" on the occaisional available surface. The last punk/rap
crossover I know of was Ice-T's band Body Count, and that was in 1990.
Is there a resurgence of punk music going on among non-punks?
- There was recently a
> > with a junior high student and parent, both practitioners of Wykkawear
> > (sp?), because the student had some jewelry with a pentagram. For
> > her the pentagram had religious significance, and she wanted to
> > it on Wykka holy days, at least. For school administrators, theInterestingly if the parent and child sued, the school district would
> > pentagram is gang sign, and prohibited.
be in major legal trouble. All over America, in numerous cases courts
have ruled in favor of students wearing religious symbols of any
description that they prefer: