"Nappy-headed who'es" redux

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 17 03:19:52 UTC 2007

Dern! And here I thought that the do-rag was neither ghetto nor at
all, in itself, any kind of fashion statement. OTOH, clearly, there's
a distinction to be made between the genuine, so-called "ghetto look"
and Jim-Crow-style mockery of it.


On 5/16/07, Doug Harris <cats22 at frontiernet.net> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Doug Harris <cats22 at FRONTIERNET.NET>
> Subject:      Re: "Nappy-headed who'es" redux
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 'Sorry, Wilson. Didn't mean to over generalize. Or appear to.
> I'd say the meaning of 'male of the species' in this context is both
> specific (humans: as exemplified in the book of the same term by Alex Mindt,
> Delphinium Books, Apr. 2007, ISBN 9781883285289, and the 1969 TV movie,
> written by Alun Owen and directed by Charles Jarrott, using the phrase as
> its title) and unspecific. And unfortunately so: Though it's true that men
> of assorted racial and ethnic backgrounds wear do rags, I was referring more
> specifically to the African American, and most specifically to those whose
> do rags less often serve the original, intended (do-keeping) purpose than
> they serve as a fashion statement, of sorts.
> In that a fashion statement is 'something,' I was both inaccurate and unfair
> in stating the rags do 'nothing.'  (I wonder, though, is it most accurate to
> say the rag is making the fashion statement or that the wearer is, by
> donning the rag?)
> While you're absolutely right in suggesting it probably is of no importance,
> in the grand scheme of things, whether a hair cover does or does not perform
> a function, I respectfully suggest that it is in fact true that a hair cover
> always performs _some_ function, whether it's so simple a function as
> protecting the wearer from the affects of sun, rain or whatever, or a more
> complex function as participating in the making of a fashion statement, or
> the representation of the wearer as a member, follower or even a
> pretend-follower of a group, club or whatever.
> Oh, and for the record, I understand that women made famous the do rag look
> during World War II (Safire, 'The to-do over 'do' and the do-rag,' NYT,
> 3/7/05) and that both men and women wear them now. But my original comment
> reflected my perspective, as coincidentally expressed in a Columbia News
> Service Report on 5/23/03
> (http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwork/cns/2003-05-23/293.asp) that the do
> rag look is "in-your-face ghetto," and I happen to intensely dislike the
> practice of people of whatever race or whatever background making a point to
> look, in their perception, as if they came from or were of a like mind with
> people unfortunate enough to live in a true ghetto.
> That I am not alone in finding fault with the ghetto look was exemplified
> earlier this year in the reaction to some U. of Connecticut Law School
> (white) students' behavior at an off-campus party. According to The Smoking
> Gun (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0125072uconn1.html),
> "do rags, gang signs and gold teeth" were both worn _and_ shown off to the
> world via postings on the web. Other UConn students and administrators at
> the law school criticized at the 'Bullets and Bubbly' party as "racially
> insensitive," according to that article.
> (the other) doug
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Nappy-headed who'es" redux
> Geez, the other doug, that's harsh! "The male of the species"? To what
> species do you refer? What is the source of your implied claim that
> the 'do rag' is peculiar to the male of the 'do rag-wearing species?
> What is the basis of your stated claim "the male of the [un-named]
> species is better known for the do-nothing 'do rag'' hair cover"?Why
> do you think that the 'do rag is a do-nothing hair cover? What does it
> matter whether a hair-cover perform a function?
> IAC, the purpose of a (hair-)do rag, whether worn by a man or by a
> woman, is to hold a hair-do in place until that hair-do has set.
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