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Appropriate bandanna colors?
August 19, 2008 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Bandannas. I love them. I wear them to garden or anytime I'm going to sweat. The problem, though, is that whole gang thing. Help me sort this out. What colors can I wear? Or should I just avoid bandannas and get some other kind of kerchief?

I know all too well not to wear blue (crips), red (bloods), yellow (Latin kings), or black (latin kings as well?).

The kids I volunteer with in an inner-city gardening program have said that my brown and pink bandannas are OK. They about had a heart attack the one time I accidentally wore blue (bloods territory, apparently), so I'm going to toss that one right out.

I have two purposes to this question. One is to find or compile a comprehensive guide to gang colors (Folks? MS13?) throughout the US. I've seen way too many conflicting or confusing reports.

The other is to decide whether I should just avoid the bandanna entirely and make myself some flowery kerchiefs instead. Am I going to accidentally "represent" in a bandanna?
posted by Stewriffic to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tie dye.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:14 PM on August 19, 2008


Is it the traditional bandana that's a gang symbol (i.e. that classic pattern) or just the colors? You could always buy fabric in the same size in patterns that very clearly mark you out as Not In A Gang - aim for the things they make scrubs out of, such as happy frog patterns or smiley faces.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:16 PM on August 19, 2008


Seconding mudpuppie. No gang claims tie dyed stuff as their coor.
posted by King Bee at 1:17 PM on August 19, 2008


...or color either, for that matter.
posted by King Bee at 1:17 PM on August 19, 2008


I suggest Japanese Tenugi.

https://www.kendoshop.com/Eng/index.php?channel=list&cate=100103102
http://www.jun-gifts.com/specialcollections/tenuguitowel/tenuguitowel.htm

I actually can't find that many online shops that have them. I go to Kinokuniya in NYC for mine. You can e-mail them at nyinfo@kinokuniya.com. They can range from $12-$16.

The ones I have are a pink one with brown rats and cats and balls of yarn, a blue one (gasp!) with white bunny rabbits and yellow flowers and a light green one with brown squirrels. I think you'll be safe.
posted by spec80 at 1:23 PM on August 19, 2008


Wear this.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:26 PM on August 19, 2008


Check out Buffs. All the functionality (and then some) of a bandana, but without having the exact same look, and available in a huge range of colours, patterns and so on. That's a UK site, but they are available in lots of places and online.
posted by Iteki at 1:36 PM on August 19, 2008


Hm, it sounds like red, blue and black are out. To be safe, how about heading to a fabric store, rummaging through the oddments bucket and finding a fabric you can make into a bandanna - preferably something reminiscent of floral curtains from the 70s. At worst you risk expressing your affiliation with Laura Ashley.
posted by eponymouse at 1:38 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Video demonstration on the different ways to wear Buffs, takes about 30 seconds to get to the "show" part of the show and tell. You can also get them in material that bocks UV rays etc for protection against the sun.
posted by Iteki at 1:43 PM on August 19, 2008


Camouflage!

Or how about a hat?
posted by Marky at 1:45 PM on August 19, 2008


Y'know, there might be a touch of fearmongering in all these reports of senseless, random gang violence. I might be wrong about this, but I have a feeling that, for outsiders such as yourself, these kinds of fears have about as much validity as the flashing-the-high-beams-gang-initiation thing.

If you want to play it safe, though, tie-dye and pink both seem like good bets. Plenty of good suggestions from other commenters, too. Or plaid. Just stay out of Scotland, homie.
posted by box at 1:50 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


King Bee writes "Seconding mudpuppie. No gang claims tie dyed stuff as their coor."

Ahem.
posted by mullingitover at 2:06 PM on August 19, 2008


Hey. I'm a bandana fan too! Love them for working out and hanging out on the weekends. I tend to favor brightly patterned, multicolor prints because I like the bandanas to match my outfits. I hate to mention this but most of mine come from (whispering) Walmart. Of course, I do also have a wonderful red bandana with little sequins on it. I wear it here in Phoenix. Maybe we don't have Crips and Bloods. Maybe no one could possibly think a 38-year-old, 5'3'' woman who watches Masterpiece Theater could be in a gang. Maybe also a bit of what box said. Kids can be really silly sometimes and often just want to get a rise out of you.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 2:10 PM on August 19, 2008


White would probably signify surrender and not be gang-related. I agree that you're unlikely to be actually mistaken for a gang-member, but it's a nice idea to steer clear of it if you work with kids who are gang-aware. I get quite a few bandannas at Goodwill, and many of them are in different colors and patterns that would be neutral. Try paisley, blue+red together, the John Deere gang, Amazon has some on sale, nice tie-dye.
posted by Mom at 2:12 PM on August 19, 2008


It's worth pointing out that location plays a big factor in whether your bandanna would be seen as indication of gang membership. In a major metro area with a population of over 1 million, perhaps, but add a cowboy hat to the mix and there's certainly no confusion. If you're outside a city they don't mean anything special.
posted by mullingitover at 2:12 PM on August 19, 2008


Teachers in San Francisco's Mission District are told to wear white or black (and that's it).
posted by salvia at 2:23 PM on August 19, 2008


Yeah, I took some bandanas with me visiting a friend in Tucson and she said "Unh-uh -- you're in danger if you wear that here." Maybe ten, twelve years ago; I surely was surprised. My first brush with it all.

Do you cut sleeves off of your t-shirts sometimes? They make pretty good headbands, collect sweat pretty well, and in my experience t-shirts are a pretty stretchy material and hold close when used in this way.

(This post prompted my curiosity, I googled then called a detective I found on the Austin Gang suppression team, asked him if I was right about Austin basically not having any of this going on; he told me that there are plenty of gangs wearing plenty of colors but if I'm clearly not a gang-banger, just some mope out on a bike ride or whatever, that I would not have any trouble. He told me that is is absolutely different on the left coast, that anyone would be a fool to wear colors out there, whether you look like an accountant or whatever. But here we're pretty much in the clear.)

Anyways, t-shirt sleeves. Or white bandanas. The best selection of bandanas, and they are really huge, to boot, is from REI -- bandanas -- Buff Wear -- CoolMax Buff Wear Headbands -- CoolMax Buff Wear. And I'm not kidding about their bandanas being large, I've always had trouble tying the things but not with these from REI, they could double as a smallish tent...
posted by dancestoblue at 2:30 PM on August 19, 2008


Folk Nation doesn't have one particular color scheme, rather local gangs adopted into its structure maintain their own. It was green bandannas where I lived in Michigan.
posted by klangklangston at 2:38 PM on August 19, 2008


Local gangs have different colors. For example, most of the times the Latin Kings gang uses yellow and black as their colors, but in the high school where I used to work it was red and black. There's also a Chicago gang that uses pink as their color, and others that use black or white.

I think you'd be okay with tie-dye or florals, as others have suggested.
posted by christinetheslp at 2:52 PM on August 19, 2008


i was just about to recommend the buff that is mentioned earlier...i have one that is a solid color and doesn't look like a bandana or anything gang-like, and it is a savior...helps you stay cool, wicks away sweat, doesn't look weird, SOLD! :)
posted by citystalk at 2:55 PM on August 19, 2008


You should probably be careful where you stick the bandana when you take it off: mostly SFW guide to flagging and hankie codes.
posted by kcm at 3:03 PM on August 19, 2008


Hello Kitty patterns, or something similar. You can go to a fabric store and make your own.

Data point: there are also no bandannas allowed--in any solid color--at the local suburban mall here....even if you're a candy-ass white lady over the age of 25. (Yes, I've gotten busted and told to remove one.)
posted by availablelight at 3:16 PM on August 19, 2008


I don't mean to be rude, but as someone who came up in a gang-heavy area, you'd be much better off asking this question to the kids you work with than to random nerds on metafilter.
posted by YoungAmerican at 3:28 PM on August 19, 2008


Hey thanks so far everyone. I've happened into a slew of free bandannas at work, which is what prompted the question in the first place--yellow, brown, pink and blue. I'll just yoink the pink and brown ones, I guess. I'll also check out some of the other links, too. I'm just really annoyed that I'll either have to pay ($16??? HELL NO) or make them myself.

Folk Nation doesn't have one particular color scheme, rather local gangs adopted into its structure maintain their own. It was green bandannas where I lived in Michigan.

Around here, according to the savvy kid that appointed himself my protector, the Folks wear yellow or black. Or red. Or blue. Like you said, they just kind of ally with others. That was what made me think that skipping the bandanna entirely might be a good idea. Ugh. I LIKE BANDANNAS!


You should probably be careful where you stick the bandana when you take it off: mostly SFW guide to flagging and hankie codes.

Cause teh gays are SCARY, amirite?

I don't mean to be rude, but as someone who came up in a gang-heavy area, you'd be much better off asking this question to the kids you work with than to random nerds on metafilter.

Not rude at all. I did ask them, but they didn't even agree all the time. Also, it's highly regional, and so it's good to know what's going on in other places that are different from here. And not all metafilter folks are nerds without any knowledge of gang stuff. Like you! What can you tell me?
posted by Stewriffic at 3:42 PM on August 19, 2008


I don't know any other way to put this...you can probably wear any color or style you want, being a 30-something caucasian woman, you should be completely off the gang-bangers radar.
posted by sixcolors at 4:40 PM on August 19, 2008


REI sells lots of bandanas AND buffs!
posted by iamkimiam at 4:44 PM on August 19, 2008


I don't know any other way to put this...you can probably wear any color or style you want, being a 30-something caucasian woman, you should be completely off the gang-bangers radar.

Oh, clearly. I fit the stereotype of a gang member in about zero ways. But I do care about being a role model to the kids I work with, and one way for me to do that is to understand how my actions (may) affect the community as a whole. Ya know?
posted by Stewriffic at 4:54 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, clearly. I fit the stereotype of a gang member in about zero ways. But I do care about being a role model to the kids I work with, and one way for me to do that is to understand how my actions (may) affect the community as a whole. Ya know?

But also keep in mind that as a role model, you may have a responsibility to show the kids that there is a world outside their own. A world where the color of your bandana means whatever you want it to mean or not mean. Take a moment to teach them that they can be bigger than that if they so choose.

I say this having worked with kids in similar situations, and actually being someone who would fit the gang stereotype, but has never let that govern my actions.

I'm also a huge fan of american flag bandanas.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:26 PM on August 19, 2008


i don't know if they still sell it, but i have a plaid madras bandanna from j crew that is about as ungangly as can be. go to a fabric store, buy 2 square feet of the plaid of your choice and hem. voila! something multicolored with flowers would also work.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:48 PM on August 19, 2008


the Folks i knew in high school wore blue. also,

you can probably wear any color or style you want, being a 30-something caucasian woman, you should be completely off the gang-bangers radar.

it seems logical, but this isn't really how it works. no dude in a gang is going to really mistake you for a blood if you wear red, but it can be taken as an intentional slap in the face. more likely, it would be willfully taken that way, simply as a pretense to start shit with you, for whoever feels like starting shit with you on that day.

youngamerican's advice is the best so far. listen to the kids.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 10:41 PM on August 19, 2008


orange. it's an awesome colour and you'll never lose the thing.
posted by phredgreen at 11:59 PM on August 19, 2008


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