Green’s Dictionary of Slang

do-rag n.

also dew rag, doo-rag, durag, rag
[do n. (13) + SE rag]
(US black)

1. the scarf or similar cloth that is used to bind up one’s newly straightened hair.

[US](con. mid-1950s) Claude Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 192: I got tired of being the old-style nigger with the rag around his head.
[US]Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, OH) 12 Oct. 60(?)/1: There is no relationship between a kid with a dew rag on his head throwing flaming bottles of gasoline and the constitutional rights of a race of people.
[US]O. Hawkins Ghetto Sketches 119: Since I had my hair conked in them day, I had my ’do rag ’round my skull.
[US] F. Zappa ‘Uncle Remus’ [lyrics] I can’t wait till my Fro is full-grown / I’ll just throw ’way my Doo-Rag at home.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 68: Nobody wears do-rags no more, you dumb nigger!
[US]G. Tate ‘Atomic Dog’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 29: This cat had a lot more on his mind than snipping naps and knotting up doo-rags.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 49: Dew Rag A plastic cap or bandanna that black inmates use to cover their hair to help retain moisture.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 80: A wraith of a woman weaing a torn army jacket, her hair shoveled under a do-rag.
[UK]L. Theroux Call of the Weird (2006) 192: Dark-skinned and almond-eyed, twenty-something, his hair in a do-rag.
[UK]D.S. Mitchell Killer Tune (2008) 7: The du-rag fitted the crown of his head like a silk stocking and blew loose at the back and side of his neck with the flare of a Foreign Legion cap.
[UK]Guardian G2 1 Sept. 10/1: A black man in a du-rag, cargo pants and timberland boots.

2. a bandanna used as part of one’s gang insignia.

[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 19: do-rag [...] A bandana folded and ironed according to hoodlumic convention so as to have the proper appearance when hanging from the pants pockets, indicating gang membership.
[US]Bynum & Thompson Juvenile Delinquency 290: Durag. Handkerchief wrapped around head.
[US]Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office City of Houston, TX Street Gang Sl. / Gloss. 9 Nov.: durag (Pronounced doo-rag) Handkerchief or bandanna wrapped around a gang member’s head.
[US]Dr Dre ‘Some L.A. Niggas’ [lyrics] In my younger days I used to sport a rag / [...] / G’d up from the feet up.
[UK]Observer mag. 9 Jan. 11: Wearing the blue ‘rags’ that served as a uniform.
[US]J. Lethem Fortress of Solitude 429: A stoney-eyed brother in net muscle-shirt and doo-rag.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 241: A trio of hoods in do-rags.