Saturday, August 25, 2007

Live dangerously.

Nowadays people need to be careful what they do with their hands.

Case in point: Virginia has developed a new advertising campaign to promote tourism. The slogan is “Live Passionately.” See that picture at the right? The woman’s hands? That heart shape is supposed to represent passion (as in “Virginia is for Lovers”).

Unfortunately, this particular configuration of the hands also represents allegiance to the Black Gangster Disciples, a notorious drug-dealing “street organization” rooted in Chicago.

The hand sign is demonstrated in the photo below, courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. It’s one of a variety of Gangster Disciple hand signs.

Well, once Virginia tourism officials found that out, they announced the symbol would be removed from all upcoming advertising.

Alisa Bailey, head of the Virginia Tourism Corp., said in a statement: "We have decided to adjust the new Virginia is for Lovers Live Passionately campaign due to concerns that the heart/hand symbol has a meaning other than what our agency intended.

“For the majority of people, the heart sign is a symbol of love – and the campaign’s images intended to convey a love of travel and love of Virginia. A heart has been our symbol since 1969 and we were looking for new ways to express it.”

The reaction to this turnabout? “Virginia got punked by the Gangster Disciples,” wrote Shanna Flowers, a Roanoke Times columnist. (Ms. Flowers is black.) “Here's an idea for a new campaign for the folks at the tourism agency: Virginia is for Wusses.”

Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond Times-Dispatch opined: “Don't get me wrong: Gangs are a serious problem, even in Virginia. No one is trying to make light of that. But have we reached a point where any gesture, no matter how innocent, is guilty by the obscurest of associations? Do we really need to give gangsters and thugs that much power over us?”

I say: Better safe than sorry. Why take a chance that some travel brochure or billboard could lead to the shedding of...


jena6 said...

The VA ad seems fairly innocuous; but, you never know. Let's hope nose picking never becomes a gang sign.

Speaking of living "dangerously," just last night I caught a news segment concerning three New Era baseball cap designs. "The three styles in question used colors and symbols linked to three gangs: an all-white cap with a blue bandanna, the trademark of the notorious Crips; an all-white cap with a red bandanna worn by the rival Bloods; and a black cap with a gold team logo and an embroidered crown, a symbol favored by the Latin Kings."

New Era says it will pull the caps, but how irresponsible was it of the company to approve them in the first place? I mean, when the idea for the designs came up, didn't someone question the implications?

Oh, wait...of course someone did. And then there were high-fives all around.

BLACKinUSA said...

Oh a real instance where corporate America and corporate sports care about people?!?
"Like oh my god, Becky!...Gag me with a fork!"
How could a company located in a city that in 2006 saw a significant rise in gang related crime not know what colors represent?
Corporations to everyone else, why gang members.
It's the American Way .
I ain't even gonna comment on the New York STANKeeys statement.

susie said...

It looks like a heart. So a gang in Chicago throws a heart shaped gang sign? Do they do this in a way that makes it look more threatening than either of the examples in the photos? I mean it looks like "I heart you", or do they mean it like I'm gonna shoot you through the heart.

I grew up in Long Beach and I remember when people were getting shot for accidentally wearing red or blue in the wrong neighborhood. Any people, no matter what color they were.

I thought that was crazy then and I think this is crazy now.

And the hands at the bottom there? They looks like my nana's hands. She's got bad arthritis. I don't know how anyone navigates through this stuff, and I'm even more intrigued by who makes it up and how these seemingly random symobls get agreed to and accepted.

I think the same thing about sororities and fraternaties and their rituals and behaviors.

Jena6 you are so right on the nose picking thing - a lot of folks'd be putting themselves at risk during that morning commute.

Lola Gets said...

Those heart signs look extremely similar to the signs that some "angel" affiliates of Black fraternities use. Specifically the Kappa Alpha Psi angels and the Iota Phi Theta angels.

Interesting fact: I live in downtown DC, and one of the gangs in my old neighborhood used a voice call very similar to the one used by the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Too bad none of the organizations hold a patent on these - theyd clean up!


Rottin' in Denmark said...

Am I the only one who just thinks this is absolutely hilarious?

The only thing more ridiculous than the existence of gang signs is the existence of tourist slogans for places like Virginia. Now, finally, they get to share a mini-scandal. Awwww.