Crip-walking: Gang Symbol or Club Move?

News & Politics
c-walkIn recent months the dance style commonly known as Crip-walking, or C-walking, has caused much controversy. Why? Because the dance step commonly used by the street gang known as the Crips is now popping up in clubs and schools around the country.

The gang now known as the Crips was started in 1969 by a Los Angeles youth named Raymond Washington. Originally, the gang was called the Baby Avenues, eventually evolving into the Avenues Cribs, and then finally into the Crips in 1971. In the years proceeding, Raymond Washington and his gang influenced other youths in the Los Angeles area, leading to the establishment of a number of Crip sets. During the 1980s several Crip-affiliated gangs appeared in the Central American country of Belize. Throughout the decade, a large number of these gang members immigrated to the United States and settled on both the West and East Coasts. A rather large contingent of Belizean Crips migrated to Harlem in New York City, eventually forming the Harlem Mafia Crips. It is widely accepted that this migration aided in the spreading of the Crips to the East Coast. Since its creation, the Crips have been targeted for their involvement in the drug trade and other violent crimes (GRIPE).

Crips often C-walked after shooting or killing a rival gang member, in many cases spelling out messages with their feet. In �The New Forbidden Dance,� ABC News reports "no one disputes that the [Crip-walk] dance originated with the Crips. The C-Walk's jittery stutter-step combination of foot pivots and shuffles were on display at gang celebrations more than 20 years ago..." The question today, however, is whether or not the dance has crossed over to mainstream society and lost its violent gang association.

On the one end of the debate are those who feel that C-walking should be banned from schools and clubs due to the gang ties it has. On the other hand, there are those who feel that the Crip-walk dance is simply a passing fad.

Read other articles about the Crip-walk and see the dance in action:

"Some Principals Ban Dance With Gang Ties" --

"The New Forbidden Dance" --

Those who are leading the movement against Crip-walking are, for the most part, school administrators and law enforcement officials. Within many schools in gang-ridden areas of Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C., among other cities, Crip-walking in school or at school functions has been outlawed.

In ABC�s �The Forbidden Dance,� Debora Schneider, assistant principal at Manual Arts High School in LA says, �we have a talent show; obviously there's no Crip-walking at our talent show.� Manual Arts High has banned the dance on campus and at school events. �It's all in the name of safety,� she says. �The Crip-walk does have gang signs affiliated with it.� Many administrators and law enforcement officials see the banning of the dance as the only way to protect students from getting harmed as a result of C-walking. Many Crip-walking opponents believe that if one goes into the wrong neighborhood and C-walks, that person may be harmed by gangs that recognize it as a Crip symbol.

The anti-C-walk movement has not been helped by performers who have done the dance in videos and at shows. The first time Crip-walking appeared in a music video was in a song done by WC several years ago. Since then Snoop Doggy Dogg, a former Crip himself, Xzibit, and even Lil' Bow Wow, have performed the C-walk or variations of the dance at their concerts. By performing the dance, the aforementioned performers have not only made C-walking more mainstream, but have increased the number of non-gang members doing the step.

Many of those who feel Crip-walking is simply a harmless passing fad cite the visibility of the dance in mainstream society. Many argue that, if one goes out to a club or turns on the TV one is bound to see Crip-walking. As a law enforcement official admits on, "If everybody was doing it at a club, I doubt very seriously there would be a drive-by."

Regardless of which side has a more credible argument, the debate can be easily brought to a head by talking to gangs and getting their take on the issue. But of course, people often enjoy talking about something more than taking action or going straight to the source. It seems as though only time will tell if Crip-walking is the new tango, or if it will stay tied to its gang roots.

This article originally appeared on The Cipher, an online news, arts, and culture site for Rhode Island youth.

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