Sunday, October 6, 2013

Raiders Fan Forever Ey!

I had watched that ESPN documentary on the Raiders and their relationship with rap, and how they influenced one another. I remember back in the day, you weren't cool unless you owned one of those puffy Raiders jackets or a parka, or a jacket from any NFL team for that matter. I reflect all the more now, because I realize how closely related Raiders paraphernalia that you could wear designated you gang related.

Years ago I'd been home for the winter break, and I was watching a football game on tv. One of my younger cousins who had been named after a Sylvester Stallone movie character had been over, visiting with his father, my tio. The Raiders weren't playing, but my mom used that as a segue to make small talk with him, he was a teenager at the time. I think she asked him if he liked the Forty-niners, to which he said no. She asked him who his favorite team was. And lo and behold it was the Raiders!! My mom then asked him, who his favorite player was. He stayed quiet for a moment ruminating on the question. Then he finally said, "I don't watch their games I just like their colors." LO and BEHOLD he liked their colors!! My mom kept chatting with him for a bit before he and one of my brothers went to play video games or some other such thing that childhood permitted you to do guilt free. When my tio and cousin eventually left, I asked my mom, "You know why he likes the Raiders right?"

She replied, "Well he said because of their colors."

"Yeah, but its also because that's what gangsters mainly wear."

My cousin grew up in a family where his sisters and older brother were involved in gang activity since as early as I can remember. He followed a similar path, he'd already been in and out of trouble, and doing some juvie time, he'd already claimed membership. Therefore hearing him claim the Raiders as his team without caring to watch their games, or know the name of a single player confirmed what I already knew. By the point my cousin had fully embraced gang culture. Don't get me wrong, I know people who grew up in a family liking one particular football team, as kids they knew the team, and liked them cause their family liked them, but they were too busy playing outside or video games to sit through a full length football game; I'm included in that group. But I noticed something similar in my younger brothers, well one of them at first. They both liked the Forty-niners. But eventually the older of the two started assimilating into the gang life, and started embracing some of their built cultural proclivities, until one day, he stopped wearing or caring for anything relating to the Forty-niners. He just wanted to wear anything that was Raiders related, and he even stated he liked the Raiders like my cousin, but also didn't watch any Raiders games like my cousin. The ebbs and flows of built cultural tendencies are interesting, because I started noticing a shift in it, where all of a sudden there were cholillos in the neighborhood that started wearing the Forty-niners home jerseys, the solid red ones. And eventually, my brother who had shifted to being a Raiders "fan," decided to wear those solid Niners jerseys. I believed he still claimed to be a Raiders fan, but wore the Niners jersey, because it better showcased his allegiance to a particular gang, whereas the Raiders gear left affiliation questionable, because it was impossible to know if the person was in the blue gang or red gang.

Unfortunately wearing a Niners jersey can get a brown kid 25 to life, not literally, but in the sense that all a prosecutor has to do to get a jury to believe a person on trial has gang ties is say, "Hey we found a Niners jersey in his closet." Whether it's the home or away jersey wouldn't matter, the kid is brown therefore is guilty as charged, because you know us savage Chican@s and our tendencies toward gang affliations and violence. Raiders jersey? Same thing. Tattoos? The same. It's gotten quite ridiculous actually. If a juvenile who is on probation s/he is not even allowed to draw anything that is gang related, so say for example s/he draws a lowrider in art class, and/or practices calligraphy be it the Old English font, or a fancy cursive style, the juvenile will be in violation of their probationary terms, and if the probation officer is enough of a prick, he can extend the probation or take the kid in. I guess this is a form of "un-brainwashing" the gangster out of them. You want the kids to express themselves in their artwork be it drawing or writing, yet they get in trouble for penning what they know? Stupid as fuck in my point of view. Just another outmoded and flagrant flaw in the way "the system," tries to deal with these situations, but utterly fails.

The Raiders have long had a reputation for being the team of the cholos/gangsters, sometimes joking refered to as the Gang Nation a play on the Raider Nation. I remember watching a video of on this show called Maximum Exposure that just showed crazy videos of random shit, be it funny or crazy. One of the videos shown contained an infamous fan brawl at the Raiders stadium (can't remember if it was when they were the LA Raiders or if it was in Oakland), and the video is slowed down to show a Raider fan stabbing a fan of the visiting team. I don't know if the fan was gang related or simply just carrying a knife for his own protection, however there is one thing I walked away having learned from watching that video-Don't fuck with Raiders fans at Raiders stadium.


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