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.