Thursday, April 17, 2008

a candid moment (part 2)

If you read yesterday's post about the Google Maps pictures and how people interpret them, here's part 2. I went back and looked at the pictures again to consider the details.

Before you read further, take a minute to write down your interpretation of the pictures.

The simple act of a black man talking to the driver of the car could be just that - someone talking to a neighbor or giving directions. We can't really see the driver.

I took another look at the pictures and thought about why it looked like a drug deal to me. The positions of the pedestrian's hands and plain white t-shirt and dark denim baggy shorts did it. His clothing is the current "uniform" of dealers and gang bangers who want to make themselves harder to identify by looking alike. Most of the guys in the picture are standing around wearing the same "uniform." If they wore clothing that made them look like regular individuals, I might interpret the scene a bit differently.

The pedestrian by the car could be a regular guy, but the style he's chosen has bad connotations for many people. Seeing someone approach a car and seeing their hands go to the open window or seeing two people approach each other and exchange something hand-to-hand says "drug deal" to me, after spending years in neighborhoods where there is a lot of drug dealing. Notice what looks like another hand-to-hand by two guys in the background, then one of them walking away.

If I had never spent time in neighborhoods where rampant drug dealing (and related violence) is an issue, I probably wouldn't have a clue about this. It might just look like a random conversation. After seeing way too much of runners, lookouts, window drops, stash spots, etc., it's hard to view a scene like this with unbiased eyes.

What's your interpretation? Please share a comment on your perspective.


Michael J. Harrington said...

To me, the best response on the web site was from someone who wrote, "That guy wasn't buying crack. He was just stopping for directions on where to get the best Chicago-style deep dish pizza in the area."

Paradise said...

popular outfit

Yes, drug dealers started wearing white t shirts to make themselves hard to pick out of a crowd. The reason they adopted this outfit is because it is a popular style worn by many many people. The outfit does not distinguish a person as a drug dealer and people don't choose to wear this outfit to look like a drug dealer. Wearing white t shirts was popular before dealers started wearing them, its a nice look, jeans and a white t shirt. What is bizzare to me is that so many people think its a drug dealer uniform, I'm laughing now, because its taken a long time for this point to sink in for me.. People must think I'm just arguing some abstract concept, like just because drug dealers wear this outfit doesn't mean each and every person who selects it is trying to convey they are drug dealers, though the reality might be that it is in fact a drug dealer uniform.

NO NO is not! That's why the drug dealers wear it, so they look like everybody else, normal law abiding citizens. Get the idea out of your head that its a drug dealer uniform people! So its occuring to me that there's really people that think every one walking around in a white t shirt approves of or engages in drug dealing. It's just beyond me. You haven't been to the lakefront on the fourth of july, you thought 80% of people were associated with gangs? There's no excuse for this error, any civic function I've been to put on by cops, community groups, whatever, people like to wear white t shirts, just get it out of your head and better yet, reinforce the exercise by chatting with the next person you see in a white t shirt.

Finally, shaking hands is a common greeting. Do I need to go into this?

Fargo said...

But how many regular people wear plain white t-shirts with no logo or message or picture? Not so many. The guy in your "popular outfit" example is wearing a logo shirt.

When drug dealers in the neighborhood want to be less identifiable, they are wearing plain white t-shirts and generic looking jeans or shorts with no identifying markings.

Paradise said...

I don't know what to say....

Look, I'm not arguing my opinion on the matter, it's a fact that people from all walks of life wear the baggy plain white t shirts, OK, his has a white logo embroidered on it, so what about the kids in the photograph on the board, if we don't find any logo, they're not good kids in the program ,advertised, oh and the people in the background in baggy white shirts are gang bangers too. Look, I'll find some more pictures for you but its hard for me not to wonder if folks are messing with me...

So you are saying that a person who wears a baggy white t shirt is identifying with the gang lifestyle? And I'm just reaching here, nice people don't wear that outfit all over town, what?

Fargo said...

So you are saying that a person who wears a baggy white t shirt is identifying with the gang lifestyle?

Not necessarily. I was talking about how that style looks to many people, how a person's choice of clothing may affect how they are perceived by others.