Thursday, April 10, 2014
I grew up in a community located in the South Tucson —Kino and 29th St. to be exact—that is referred to as the Vistas. I'll never forget leaving my house to go to Cavett Elementary or Utterback Middle School and noticing various structures, walls and fences tagged by the residential gang members that referred to themselves as the Vista Bloods. Our family didn't have to sit on the floor to avoid stray bullets zipping past our windows, but gunshots and police sirens were common. Relatives on both sides of the family are riddled with gang bangers and found some sense of community and comradery by wearing a uniform defined by a primary color.
So, I never saw the appeal or had the desired to emulate the rappers and family members with "Brown Pride." I did have an extensive Homies figure collection on my desk during my days slaving away at a call center, but that's about it. Alright, I do have an affinity for 60s R&B/slow jams and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.
This type of fashion and lifestyle is starting to take off internationally. Coconuts Bangkok and Fusion Live have reported this trend of Thai men dressing up like Mexican gangsters after obsessively watching Youtube videos and becoming enamored with what they saw. Thankfully, these Thai vato locos are merely appreciating the tattoos, jewelry, clothing, music, cars, and avoiding the violence and rituals that is commonly associated with real gangs.
Perhaps what most separates the Thais from the Mexicans they imitate is that almost all of them hold innocuous 9-5s as teachers, policemen and bureaucrats. Many are family men, and some admitted to consulting their wives before getting certain tattoos. Needless to say, the Thai gangs don’t fight amongst themselves or deal in illicit drugs, both of which are hallmarks of real Latino gangs. In a nutshell, this is a brotherhood of style-conscious men who bond over baggy white shirts and gothic-baroque tattoos
Local entrepreneur Patrice Caputo runs a clothing company called Cholo Nation. The Facebook page has 72k likes and his customers and fans are located all over the world. There's an active "Cholo" movement in Australia that hasn't been discovered yet.
It's still weird to me to watch this trend gain popularity, but I have never learned to judge a book by it's cover. Just because they were plaid, sag their pants and lean like a cholo doesn't mean they have a gun and criminal record.