Art and Photography
04 mins
Hsquared Magazine
There is a generation of Americans who grew up viewing graffiti as art. For a while, this perspective of graffiti as a form of expression which held merit, could have gone either way.
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There is a generation of Americans who grew up viewing graffiti as art. For a while, this perspective of graffiti as a form of expression which held merit, could have gone either way.

Graffiti sprung from gang culture, at least according to the nightly news, and as the evening news was as close to the truth of a nation as we were going to get, there was a fear in many a household that graffiti was the gateway drug to the other stuff.

Lawmakers did their best to warn adult Americans of the ill-effects of “tags”, low-riding pants, spray paint, rap music, baseball caps worn backwards, and hoodies.

Newscasts were dedicated to explaining hidden meaning behind words scrawled on neglected bridges, subway cards and street corners.

Officers were transferred from vice units to newly formed “gang units”. Individuals began to specialize in “street linguistics”, and were thus on-call to decipher the code of graffiti for viewing audiences nationwide.

The Great Gang Scare of the 1980s was a thing.

This era (there have been several) of ‘societal fear of the black man’ attempted to sway a generation from the acceptance of this black culture. The effort almost succeeded.

Legislation was created to provide a content rating’s system for music, police policies were drafted to allow searches of individuals on suspicion, and mandatory minimums were not far behind.

But much like it must have been when Elvis…