Wow. I just saw an amazing documentary that made me feel so ridiculously uncomfortable, antsy and hopeless throughout that I almost cried (and I don’t cry at movies).
Its title? Crips and Bloods: Made in America.
What it’s about? It tells the story of the formation of the Crips and the Bloods, two of the most infamous gangs in the United States. Both gangs are exclusively African American and located in Los Angeles. The movies traces the gangs’ history from its roots in slavery to the efforts being made to fight gang violence today.
Where’d I see it? Student Peace Alliance and Students Organized Against Racism co-sponsored the screening of the movie in Golding tonight and had a pretty decent turnout. Normally I don’t stay for talkbacks but I did this time and was very pleasantly surprised; rather than focusing on our own victimization stories or berating the sad state of America, a lot of the discussion was productive and solution-based. Although we’re mostly disillusioned college students, we were able to talk about the possibilities and hope the movie left us with.
What I’m taking away from it: The idea that one of the best ways to approach gang violence is to empower the communities in which it is occuring; instead of just dealing with the reprecussions (ie stronger law enforcement, counseling for PTSD), we can help people recognize the harms of gangs and give them the resources to make changes within their communities themselves.
Wanna get involved?: I am one of the Waltham Group Kids Connection coordinators and volunteers go to Teen Night every few Friday nights at the Waltham Y. The primary purpose of Teen Night is to keep teens off the streets (there is a rising number of gangs in Waltham) by giving them other arenas where they can feel connected, motivated and comfortable. However, often at the Y volunteers&staff end up supervising more than interacting with the teens. If anyone would like to brainstorm ideas as to how to connect WITH teens (who aren’t always the most responsive) and be role models while still being peers, it would be much appreciated.
This is just one small way in which we can help. For more information about the movie and ways to get involved check out the official movie site, http://cripsandbloodsmovie.com, and consider reading Gangleader for a Day, an amazing book about Chicago gangs from a sociology grad student’s perspective.
Organized Crime – Crips And Bloods: Black American Gangs In Los Angeles. This site is also helpful for background information on the bloods and the crips.