Gangstas Have Cars. It’s a Warning.
I’ve noticed something unexpected when I promote my writing. My intended audience is kids, parents, teachers, and politicians, pretty much anyone with an interest or a stake in education. What surprises me is that some of them dismiss my book or blog by saying, “Oh we’re just not interested in that gangster stuff. It doesn’t apply to us.” To which I reply, “I think you should be interested in that gangster stuff because gangstas have cars.” Here’s some reasons and then, if you’re still not convinced, a very scary story.
This isn’t about law enforcement.
I’m not asking for tougher laws. I’ve seen the damage our criminal justice system can inflict on an individual in the name of protecting society. I’m not talking about any part of the law enforcement or criminal justice system. That is its own separate issue. I’m talking about giving as much time and energy to the issue of classroom behaviors, gangs and street violence as we do to all subjects related to college.
HARO and media aren’t covering it.
I’m a member of HARO (Help A Reporter Out) which is a service for media outlets (magazines, blogs, and mainstream media) to connect with writers and experts in a variety of fields for quotes. Whenever you read an article and it says something like, ‘Dr. Soandso from the University of Suchandsuch says this…’ you can probably figure they found Dr. Soandso from a service like HARO. HARO separates its queries by category and one of the categories is Education. I have submitted work to their Education queries when appropriate but it rarely is. Issues about student behavior get very little discussion.
I noticed that the overwhelming majority of queries were about funding for college. Nothing about how to deal with the disrespectful/defiant/disruptive student. Nothing about what to do with rival gangs in your school.
The media doesn’t seem to have much interest in the gangsta mentality. Twitter and FaceBook mostly have educational posts from outraged educators fighting for social justice (a worthy endeavor). But few offer a running dialogue about behavior because they are living it and know the ropes. New educators don’t want to admit that they’ve been thrown into a maelstrom. And those armchair pundits who have never stood in front of a classroom take sadistic pleasure in blaming teachers for everything.
What I want to see, along with the current attention to college, is equal time and energy given to understanding and dealing with the motivation to join the gang. This attention to the gangsta mentality is particularly important for those who think they don’t need to know about or be concerned with the gang mentality because they don’t live in the hood. Even if you don’t live in the hood, remember, gangstas have cars.
It’s a very scary story.
It was part of a Language Arts assignment. I was subbing at an inner city alternative school. The kids were to write a short narrative about how they wound up at this alternative school. We began by discussing their stories, as part of the instruction for how to write a narrative. Most of their reasons were the usual, truancy or fighting. Then Billy said, “I shot a guy.”
It was part of a gang initiation. He was to go into an affluent suburb and shoot a total stranger – to show he was ‘down for the gang’. And that’s exactly what he did. He and his homies drove to a suburb, walked around for a while, picked a target and then shot him. Billy was picked up by the police a short time later. He was out of jail and at school because he was a minor on parole.
What made this particularly scary for me wasn’t the shooting but his attitude about it all. He was as calm and without any remorse as if he’d simply done well at the target range. That’s all the other person was – just an unlucky target.
That’s when it came to me that we really need to understand this mentality in order to counteract it. It’s not about law enforcement. Billy got caught by the cops but I bet his victim would rather have not been shot at all than to get shot and know that justice had taken it’s righteous course.
Remember, even if you don’t live in the hood, gangstas have cars.