7 June 1991 |
Los Angeles Times
Recently I saw a bulletin board in South-Central Los Angeles that carried the message that "gangs don't prove anything." However well-meaning the sponsors of that message may be, they are dead wrong. To their members, gangs mean acceptance and some measure of affection from their brothers and sisters, most of whom are profoundly aware that the larger society routinely denies these gestures of human decency to people of color.
I am not condoning the activities of gangs, as some of their behavior is destructive and even self-destructive, but the fact remains that gangs flower in communities when they are rejected and economically humiliated by (the largely white, affluent) society.
When will we get it through our heads that gangs are one powerful expression of the need of young people to feel wanted and cared about? It would be a shame if our smug Establishment did not pay attention to the message underlying the violence we read about every day, because if we continue to keep majorities in the places we have created for them, we will be sorry.
[NOTE: I must have meant to write "minorities", not "majorities" in the last sentence above! I never noticed that before!]