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South Central L.A has been one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the whole of the United States. This area is known for its high rate of crime and violence. The high population of young Blacks and Latino youths has contributed to the high rates of crimes that are related to the area. According to a survey conducted by Murphy (1986), the initial cause of crime and violence in the 1950s and 60s in south-central L.A was due to the poor economic state of the African American and Latino communities (p. 14). Most of the individuals from these communities lacked stable jobs to support their families and other people who depended on them. Murphy further stated that these communities used crime and violence as a retaliation of the oppression that they were facing from the government (Murphy, 21).
However, since the 1970s up to date, the nature of crimes in the area have changed. There are still robberies, homicides, burglary, and high rates of violence, but the nature in which this is conducted has changed (Hoffert, 1992). All these activities are now conducted by organized gangs. These gangs recruit local youths and introduce them to a life of drugs and violence. L.A has the largest number of gangs in the whole of the USA (Scott, 2004). Due to competition and the need for respect, these gangs normally turn on one another through violence and the killing of members of rival groups. This has resulted in an increase in the rate of crime and violence in the area (Sunstein, 2009).
Consent of the Respondent
This paper is a narrative to an interview that was conducted on Malik Shakur, a member of one of the most notorious gangs in Los Angeles. The gang that Malik is affiliated with is known as Crips, and it has around 30,000 to 35,000 members in total (Scott, 2004). This study wanted to identify the factors that led him into the gang life and the various stages of his involvement in the gang. Before the commencement of the interview, Malik was made aware of the nature of the study as its goals and objectives were clearly explained to him.
He was assured about the confidentiality of the information that he was about to give out in the study. He was also aware of the fact that his participation was voluntary and that he had the right to terminate the interview whenever he felt like. Finally, he was assured that the information that he will submit would not be used to incriminate him against any acts of offenses that he may have committed. Malik accepted these terms and agreed to participate in the interview.
Respondent Involvement in the Gang
After gaining his consent, an interview was conducted on Malik Shakur to identify his involvement in the gang and the deviant activities that he is involved in. Malik was a 21-year-old high school dropout. He was born and raised in Compton by a single mother. He had three other stepbrothers, all of whom were older than him. During his childhood, all the kids on the block used to pick on him, including his half brothers.
They made fun of him constantly, a factor that made Malik develop low self-esteem. His mother was also a drug addict. She never gave him the love and attention that Malik needed. By the age of 10 years, Malik had a few friends. Feeling left out and depressed, Malik would turn to the gang for protection, love, and companionship. He joined a local gang, and to prove his loyalty. He had to mug an old lady. Although it was mentally challenging, Malik managed to pull out the act, and since then, he was a part of a huge family that always loved and cared for him, or at least he thought.
As the years went by, Malik got involved in a number of deviant activities. He committed a crime so that he could get money, power, and respect from the local people of his neighborhood. He wanted to live a fast life, just like the rock stars and hip-hop musicians. His continuous involvement in the gang led him to be a drug addict, drop out of school, and a local wanted criminal. At the age of 15, Malik committed his first homicide. He shot a member of a rival gang. This act made him rise up the ranks of the gang that he was involved in, and with time, through the affiliation of his gang with the crips, Malik automatically became a Crip, one of the most notorious gangs in the U.S. and probably the whole world.
As a Crip, Malik was mainly involved in the selling and distribution of drugs. Any rival gang that tried to sell the same products as him was eliminated. This, therefore, meant that Malik was involved in more killings than before. The position that he was in now gave him access to more money and power, something that he had dreamt of since he was a kid. His everyday life involves breaking the law, conducting illegal businesses, and running from the police. Malik is now so deep in the gang that he cannot get out. He confessed to having been involved in a number of deviant activities that ranged from homicide, selling drugs, possession of firearms, and organized crime. He blames all this to the system that the government has in place. According to him, the government does not consider the poor people of the society.
However, he would not like his 2-year-old daughter to be involved in the gang. He is well aware of the risks that are involved, and as a result, he works hard to ensure that his family is safe and free from danger. For him, though, the gang is all that he knows of, and that is the kind of life that he will continue to live.
From the interview, it is evident that Maliks moved into the gang to get love and protection. This is common for many teenagers who feel powerless. Gangs normally accept such people and recruit them to be a part of their team. In the process of being a gang member, one is expected to prove their loyalty by committing an act that is normally illegal in nature. This is like an initiation test, and once passed, one becomes a full-time member of the gang. It is also evident that all the deviant activities that Malik was involved in were conducted as a group and not as an individual. Therefore, once an individual joins a gang, the gang takes over their lives.
Hoffert, W. (1992). A Politics of Tensions: The Articles of Confederation and American Political Ideas. Niwot: University Press of Colorado.
Murphy, A. (1986). Crime and Violence in The West Cost. Los Angeles: Digital Works.
Scott, P. (2004). California: A History on the Edge. San Francisco: Broadway.
Sunstein, C. (2009). The Federalist. Cambridge: The Belknap press of Harvard University Press.