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The history of the do-rag, or du-rag, is probably one of those subjects that would never cross your mind. You’ve seen them around for years, worn by an uncle, cousin, or even perhaps yourself.

The do-rag is simply a scarf worn on your head to protect your hairstyle or is used for fashion. Guys often wear do-rags to keep their cuts fresh and braids in place, while others sport them as a part of their outfit. While do-rags may have been worn by some of your favorite artists, the trend is certainly nothing new.

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The do-rag’s origin dates back to the 19th century when poor laborers and slaves needed something to tie their hair back with. Fast forwarding to the times of the Harlem Renaissance and Great Depression, in the 1930s, do-rag then evolved into a hairstyle preserver. Then shortly after the Black Power Movement in the late 1960s and into the 1970s and up until the 2000s, the do-rag became a fashion statement. Rappers, athletes, and the rest of American youth began, particularly young African American men, began wearing them around the clock and not just overnight as they slept. It was common for young men to wear do-rags out in public. The do-rag became available in different colors, and was a staple for the typical dressed down outfit. Do-rags became so popular and common in mainstream America, the National Football League placed a ban on any do-rag, scarf, or bandana on the football field. Former Minnesota Vikings coach, Dennis Green, believed the ban targeted Black players even though the NFL’s reasoning was to avoid any player mistakenly associated with a gang.

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There are even universities that ban do-rags on campus like esteemed HBCU, Hampton University, where males (or females) cannot wear any type of head coverings including bandanas, hats, or stocking caps. They are only permitted in their residence.
Currently, there has been a dip in popularity in wearing them publicly and many rappers have left the do-rags in 2001. But, despite its diminishing presence in the latest videos and the “no do-rag” policies, its existence will remain as one of the most popular male fashion statements of our time. Just as leggings came back for the ladies, the do-rag may reign once again in twenty years.

words by: @valeryeg

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