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Gangs Essay, Research Paper

I’m doing a report on gangs. I need to start off by saying that a lot of

the stuff I’m about to say, I think is bull shit. I think this because I

am in a gang and do, or did drugs. I also have to disagree with some of,

no actually a lot of the stuff I am about to say.

Before I babble on about gangs I have to say one thing. Not all

gangs are based around Latino’s and or African-American’s. Nor are all the

gangs from Los Angeles area, but the Barrio is in East Los Angeles.

There are many different gangs around. Some consist of

African-Americans, Latinos, Skinheads, Caucasians, and Asians. Some are

mixed. A lot of the gangs I’ve heard about and are friends with, mainly

consist of colored-folk. In my gang for instance, we have five Caucasians,

the rest of us are either black, latino, or dark like me. However, we do

not have any asians in our gang. And no, we are not racist towards

hispanics.

There’s a gang that is called The Satanic Cult, which is into some

pretty weird rituals. They consisted of animal and human sacrifices and

people with brown hair were forbidden and non-caucasians.

There are many different gangs. Now there’s one I am familiar

with, the Necronomicon, who jumped me and my homeboy (who’s Latino) just

because we weren’t white.

Another one would belong to the punks. Which I do not have a

problem with. The only two punk gangs I know of, do not call themselves

“Gangs” but they call themselves a crew. They call themselves CFH,

(Cowboys From Hell) and the other one is the Martians.

A lot of the gang members come from broken homes, or something is

wrong. So the kids end up in gangs doing drugs, drinking, smoking,

committing crimes, and getting into violence. Some of us consider our gang

“family.” Some of the gangs actually do have real families in them.

There’s the problem of joining gangs. I got jumped into my gang.

But that’s one of the most common ways. The other ways are to have sex

with someone who’s already in it. Or you can get walked in. Some other

ways which are sick and twisted that I’ve heard of are; the leader holds a

knife to the newcomers throat. If the leader thinks the newcomer is lying

he can slit his or her throat. There’s others that involve rituals and

sacrifices.

Teenage gang members are linked to conventional barrio life is

obvious. In fact, much of the members’ time is spent with the “family”, at

school, under the eyes of neighbors who are decidedly “square,” and,

sometimes, with conventional friends or dates. This linkage is usually

overlooked in researchers’ preoccupation with the life of the gang during

the hours that it bands together.

We can understand only a little bit of this interaction from what

the gang members have to say about their square contacts. Retrospective

data like this may reflect romanticism about the old days, ruefulness at

missed opportunities to reintegrate with the conventional world, or self

righteousness at having “gotten out in time.” But what evidence we have

indicates that the cliques of the 1950s were more closely integrated with

the conventional barrio structures and norms. The cliques of the 1970s

appear more remote, and faced more disapproval and more efforts at control.

It is one of the strongest police and newspaper myths about these

gangs that membership is “inherited,” that is, passed on from father to

son. But such cases are rare among either men or woman. It is true that

about half of the gang members had some relative in some gang (44 percent

of the men and 59 percent of the women). It is true that young members

were significantly more likely than older ones to have a relative. It is

true that a fraction (less than 20 percent) of the gang members came from

what seem to be “gang families”-with three or more relatives in a gang in

either neighborhood. Rather than “inheritance” being the norm, most

relatives were brothers and cousins and uncles rather than parents.

No matter what particular social network led the member to the

gang, one thing is clear: the gangs’ initiation procedures became far more

ritualized. By the time the younger cliques were active, most of the boys

and girls were “jumped” into the gang, in an initiation rite in which the

recruit is tested for his/her ability to stand up in a fight. Almost none

of the members of older cliques went through this ordeal. There was no

initiation ritual. The gang asked prospects to join and that was it.

In sum, gangs of the 1970s were less clearly adolescent groups than

the gangs of the 1950s. While there were still many social routes to enter

the gang, the younger cliques contained more men and women with relatives

who had been gang members. And, finally, the gangs had acquired the

accountrements of ritualized initiations.

Girls were generally much more restricted than boys-especially

girls in earlier cliques. They were asked whether parents had been “strict

or easy” and whether they really enforced the rules or “just let things

ride.” About 60 percent said that they really did enforce the rules. Men

from earlier cliques were no more likely than ones from more recent cliques

to say that their parents had been strict. But 94 percent of the older

women, and 72 percent of the younger ones said that their parents were

strict, almost all of the older women (though only half of the younger

ones) said that their parents really enforced the rules. The limitations

placed on girls sound like a litany of traditionalism, of parents trying to

keep their daughters from being “bad” girls.

Four degrees of gang commitment have been observed in affluent

gangs. While these degrees of commitment are also observed in inner-city

gangs, the majority of affluent gang members currently embrace the second

two degrees of commitment. Although the terms for these degrees have

developed from the pop-lingo, they are useful when identifying a gang

member’s degree of commitment.

The terms for the four degrees of commitment to a gang are:

* Full-fledged

* Associate

* “Wanna-be”

* “Hanging out”

Full-fledged – This is a youth who has the highest degree of

commitment to the gang activity, regardless of what type of gang activity

the gang pursues. This youth is also likely to be the instigator of crimes

and intimidation against those inside and outside the gang. In most

affluent gangs, full-fledged members typically comprise 10% to 20% of the

group. It is uncommon to find a majority to be full-fledged members.

Associate – These youths have the second highest degree of

commitment to the gang. Typically, these youths don’t initiate the ideas

to commit crimes and acts of violence, but easily become embroiled when

trouble starts. These youths often like to intimidate those outside the

gang, but without life-threating violence. One tactic is simply to

surround others and taunt. It is common for 30%-50% of a gang to be made

up of these youths. (The Grapevine, Texas case, where the majority of the

youths were “associates.”)

Wanna-be – This slang term, first used by law enforcement,

characterize youths who simply want to run along the periphery of a gang.

These youths don’t initiate crimes or confrontations, but are usually

around when trouble breaks out, urging on their comrades or taunting the

opposition. Aggression is often expressed through subtlety, rather than

through a head-on confrontation. They are attracted to the visual raciness

of the gang persona, but are afraid of committing violent crimes, and

jumping into the foray of a fight. When they carry weapons, it is usually

just for show.

Hanging out – This slang term, originally coined by gangs,

specifies a youth who isn’t in a gang, but who likes to “hang around” gang

members wherever they meet and go. Shopping malls, homes, parties,

locations near a school, music shops, etc. are typical locales for

“hanging.” “Hanging out” can act as a magnet for gang (sometimes called

“peewees”) or at-risk youths who are new to a neighborhood.

“Tagging” is one form of graffiti that has caught on in the last

few years. It can be, but doesn’t necessarily have to be, associated with

a gang. Some youths “tag” on stationary objects, such as buildings and

fences, while adventuresome youths do it on moving buses, trains, trucks,

and cars. This can be dangerous and has resulted in a number of accidental

deaths in America and Europee where youths have been run over. Interviews

with taggers reveal that is a fad that underscores a crsis of identity for

youths. They are desperate to be known, but in secretive way that is

rebellious, while avoiding punishments. It’s addictive. Most taggers are

at-risk youths who are crying out for congratulatory slaps on the back from

friends for the inventiveness of “tag” and the number of tags a youth is

able to leave.

To close and end off my report, I’d just like to say that my gang

had been more of a family to me then my own family. I will admite that the

drugs and drinking I did was the bad part. But I do not regret joining my

gang. Infact I have to say I love One Eighty Seven. This is my “family”

and they have always been there for me and we watch eachothers backs.


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