Author Archives: ahtrista

Writing on public spaces

Text: Writing the word “Compton” on public spaces such as bathrooms, buses, street signs, houses, city buildings, gas stations, or sidewalks in Compton, California.

Context: This informant was born and raised in Compton, California from the 1970s to the 1990s. Everywhere he went in that city, he would see “Compton” graffitied. It was just a known thing that people would write this, so he got this idea from visibly seeing it and growing up doing it with friends. When I asked him “what does it mean?”, his response was “it meant that you are from Compton”.

Analysis: I see this as a way to “mark territory” or to show a sense of community. The city of Compton has a reputation of being dangerous or “ghetto” which I think has some sort of connection to this. I would never see this happening in the city where I am from—Chino Hills, California. I feel like other cities with a similar reputation also do something like this.

Chin Flick

Text: When someone does something that makes you extremely upset, you would flick your chin with the back of your hand.

Context: The informant got this from the movie “Greece”. He rarely uses it, but an example would be when he is driving and someone almost hits him. He said it means “fuck off” to the person you do it towards. He said he thinks it originated in either France or Italy.

Analysis: I would say this is the equivalent of flipping off your middle finger to someone (meaning “f*** you”), but it is not used as commonly. I am not sure if it is known as well as using the middle finger. When I was younger my friends and I used to do this to each other jokingly and innocently. We used to think it was sign language for the same meaning.