Sudhir Venkatesh's Gang Leader For A Day

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The first chapter of Sudhir Venkatesh's Gang Leader For a Day gives a small glimpse of the everyday lives of African American street gang members. He describes in detail of their deplorable living conditions, as well as their immediate distrust of him. In some ways, his descriptions positively reinforce the conventional beliefs of gangs. Most people connotate gangs with crime - particularly "senseless" violence, drug dealing, and robbery. A lot of people are quick to judge, and rarely ask questions as to why gangs are so willing to participate in illegal, and often inhumane activities. The conservative assumption is that kids join gangs to be "cool," and that they lack a conscience. Some even blame rappers for glorifying gang activity. A more liberal explanation would be that the kids are misguided due to not having positive role models in their lives. A lot of people like making arguments to explain gangs, but not enough people contextualize the origins of street gangs to support their positions.…show more content…
South Central Los Angeles is home to primarily lower-class Latinos and African Americans. It is no coincidence that many communities within South Central have the most concentrated levels of poverty in all of Los Angeles, considering how marginalized and segregated it is. In You May Ask Yourself, Conley states that there is a culture of poverty where "poor people adopt certain practices that differ from those of the middle-class, 'mainstream' society in order to adapt and survive in difficult economic circumstances" (Conley, 379). For impoverished ethnic minorities, not only do they have to adapt to survive economic hardships, but also social

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