Friday, May 13, 2011

ENG 102 Prompt: Crips and Bloods - Made in America

Crips and Bloods: Made in America (USA: Stacey Peralta, 2008: 93 mins)

Remember you are supposed to write a 300+ response to the film. This is the first of two films we are going to watch. The second one is Inside Job.

The question I want us to consider when we watch these two films: Is when our society discusses crime, looting, theft, cocaine, prostitution, lack of morals, sociopaths....... what is the picture that is used (in its broadest sense)? who do we see as being representative of these anti-social actions on the largest scale? who is represented as the most serious threat to us as individuals and as a broader society?


Read this recent article: Bill Boyarsky: Three Strikes and Civil Rights

Right now write your response to Crips and Bloods: Made in America and we will watch/discuss Inside Job next week.


Unknown said...

I think that this video represents the other side of gangs, the side that is not always shown on television. All that is ever shown on television whether it is on the news of a police drama for TV, it seems to always show the same thing, an inner city where a gang member was shot and killed over money or wearing the wrong colors in the wrong neighborhood. No one ever thinks about the other side of things, like why do these gang members do what they do. From what I took from the video is that is more of a survival of the fittest rather than all out gang warfare. Like the three older gentlemen for example, they were not allowed to join the Boy Scouts because they were black, so they had to form they own groups. They all survived the Watts Riots as well, they weren’t rioting for now reason, they just wanted to be heard and no one would listen to them.
The younger people that were interviewed, they weren’t sitting around one day and think, hey I’m going to join a gang. Most of them were born into the life of gangs and really didn’t have a say in the matter. I think it is pretty bad to have your children exposed to a life like that, but I understand the flip side of things as well of why they have to do it. Being put in that environment I could only think that it is a kill or be killed situation.
All in all, I have no idea what it is like to be in a gang. I was born and raised in Lexington where there were not that many gangs around. I have been around gang members from working the Dentition Center here in Lexington. I have no right to judge gang members for the way they live. However, I don’t think it is a good thing that their only means of survival is having to kill one another.

David Brian

hannah.toler said...

This documentary painted a picture of gang members that I have never seen before. It showed the emotions, fears, vulnerabilities, and dysfunctional lives of these individuals that the audience wouldn’t think to place alongside people such as them. One of the main points I took out of this documentary was that all of the thought processes, crimes, and actions made by gang members in this day and age began with a specific origin. It wasn't something that was thought up to be violent for the sake of being violent but instead, in reaction to them being rejected by a group of people and attempting to find somewhere they could be accepted. It's evolution into violence and hatred against one another was a concept that was pushed on these individuals because of the hatred the generations before them were fed by people of different social groups for a great deal of time.

A quote in the movie that I cannot escape is said by one of the original gang members. He spoke about the many awful ways he was treated simply because of his race. He was falsely accused, belittled, and psychologically damaged by individuals who didn't like him based on their shallow mind sets. He said, "I was fed a spoonful of hatred every day." He then goes on to elaborate about how it wasn't a question as to whether those thoughts of insignificance and belittlement were going to build up and eventually explode, but just a matter of when and who would be targeted. When he told his story and gave insight into the way that he was personally affected by these peoples words and actions I was immediately filled with anger and empathy. It gave me great deal of perspective on how the ignorant actions of our past still had powerful effects on our present lives.
-Hannah Toler
(English 102, Mon-Thurs 11AM-12:50PM)

joe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael said...

Note to William Brown -- your comment was rejected because you didn't revise it before submitting it.

Michael said...

David--Lexington and KY has plenty of gangs, maybe what you are saying is that they do not have gang members that resemble the people you are seeing in the documentary (I think this is something we should discuss when we watch Inside Job)

In the context we are using it in our studies, Merriam-Webster supplies this definition of gang:

(1) : a group of persons working together (2) : a group of persons working to unlawful or antisocial ends

Why do you think gangs, especially in mainstream american culture, has been so racialized and portrayed as solely those of the poorer classes?

Michael said...

Hannah, while the historical racial relations of Los Angeles contributed to this violent social environment, I believe we must also point out the economic processes (access to good jobs, schools, food, etc...) and the crushing reality produced when people have no hope for their lives.

Good writing!

Michael said...


I said in our last class that I will not accept responses that are not proofread and revised. Your response was rejected.

Unknown said...

This documentary was an amazing story of two rival gangs that pretty much started in the same city due to either oppression or by either to stand up to society saying, “You can’t take what we’ve worked, so hard for.” It was sad for me to watch this and to consider myself an American Caucasians. This documentary went through the history of how African Americans were treated during the civil rights movement and even before that, when they worked for white families as maids and butlers in the earlier 1900’s. It disturbed me that they were only allowed to be or live in one segregated piece of such a huge city and if they traveled across what they called the “White Curtain,” they were pulled over by the police or even arrested!
It angered me a lot, while watching all of this on the documentary because I don’t believe in any race being inferior to another, but that we are all equal. Illiterate, uneducated, oppression, and poverty strictened; none of this should be part of who a race of people are, but in that time, that is what Caucasians thought about African Americans or the way they treated them as a whole. It saddens me to see this documentary and seeing a race of people killing each other off because of territory issues, but for me as a white American; it saddens me more to see how white Americans treated the African Americans. They did nothing to us, so why treat them that way? This we will maybe never figure out, but for now, all we can do is move on as one set of people and the only thing that differs us as people, is the color of our epidermis. I’ll be damned if I let that stop me from being one with my fellow African American.

-John Groves

Lee said...

This video had an array of topics on the surface and an underlying theme. The three gentlemen in the beginning had a very strong message of racism and its effects on people as well as a relevant connection to their parents or grandparents struggles. I really felt a sense of compassion and understanding to their story and agree with the outcome of the actions taken by them as they cried out for someone to listen to them. In my previous career I had a very close connection with the African American community, before I had this relationship however, if you were to say that the Lexington Police department was racial profiling and looking closer at that community, I would have said, as many white citizens still say, that is just an excuse. The social platforms we see today are rooted deeper from what we saw from the past. We see children being raised in that environment with no hope; at least that is the excuse.
I am not a big believer in the old saying that no one will help these people. These gang members choose to be in the gangs because no one is showing them anything different, no one is making these children stay home at night and do their homework or simply stay off the streets. We live in an America today with a ton of options for people to get out of that environment. One gentleman complained about there being a liquor store on every corner, well the reason is these people drink a lot of liquor rather than save their money, they spend hundreds of dollars on expensive clothing and jewelry to stand out from everyone else, rather than saving money for school. The police usually don’t target areas of low crime to patrol, why would they? They go where the crime and violence is.
There are government programs for people to get an education and college opportunities. As a white male “dislocated worker” with children, I am getting my degree with federal assistance. If I had checked the box stating I was a black male, the options would be the same if not greater. I strongly feel that the citizens living in these communities don’t have much to live for because they don’t want to… Unlike their elders, who stood up to racism, this generation is robbing each other, selling and using drugs, and killing each other while at the same time, claiming racial profiling. They are not fighting for a cause… they are fighting just because.

Lee Hudson

Michael said...

Lee, keep a copy of this response and revisit after we watch the next documentary Inside Job.

You make a lot of assumptions here: 1) that police pursue "crime" equally (once again lets put that aside until the next documentary) 2) that children are able to just pack up and leave their homes to pursue a life somewhere else -- they are jumped into the gangs as children 3) you willfully ignore the section on the devastation wrecked upon the social activists of the 1960s that left an intellectual and moral vacuum in the neighborhoods (and provided a lesson of violence as the means to solve ones problems) 4) you are not saying that police don't profile? 5) what are the employment/unemployment ratios for people in these communinites 6) is crime perception by government/police/society heavily racialized and class-based (next documentary can help us explore that)

Jason said...

The following Documentary; “Crips and Bloods: Made in America,” pointed out some very interesting Clichés. Law Officials, Government, Media, and other entities tend to look at situations like the one with the Crips and Bloods in LA and resort to a “Crackdown on Crime” approach. These so called representatives are creating a picture for us of what seems to be, and our vague knowledge tends to let the broadcast of their views inform us of what we did not really know. The picture Law Officials, Government, and Media paint is most often one that represents a “Shock and Awe” effect as to draw attention and mask certain sides of the actual story. “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” It is usually in their best interest and beneficial in some way for them.
As we saw in the video the majority of gang members we heard from wish they did not have to live this lifestyle. They morally did not feel comfortable doing so, but to live and survive, put these thoughts at rest. I think this creates a clearer picture of the mindsets of the gang members and lead to more accurate solutions to the problems they are facing. I think most of these gang members live in fear and must flex fear to live. In seeing all of the gang members who reformed themselves, they said they let feelings go and figured out other ways to live in peace and essentially get out of the cage they were trapped in. I think self reform is the only way they achieved their goals though. No one can MAKE anyone change.
If I was in the same situation as one of the gang members, I would definitely try to find a way out as many of them would like to. One of the gang members had stated that he had been in many penitentiaries and when he got out he was completing the same loop as before except this time he could try and make a legitimate living. This was near impossible to do since no one would hire an ex-con. His other choice was to go back to his old ways and make due the best he could with what he knew how to do.
I think we need a new approach to reform when someone in this situation gets cornered. If a dog gets trapped in a small room he will fight. I think the same happens to humans also. Turf, means of food, and fear of entrapment put our survival instincts to the test in a different psychological perspective that most of the time we don’t even notice. I’ll have to admit I did not look at all of the angles and views that were presented with this video and the outcome has made me more literate with factual information from grassroots based source.

Unknown said...

I found the video to be very informative. I can only imagine how terrifying it was to be face to face with the gentlemen on the streets, asking to video record their response about such exclusive, and personal information. It was very refreshing to watch an informative film about gangs, and instead of having negative facts about the impact on the community thrown at me, I learned the reason why the crimes occur. It is my opinion that the vision shared by the three older gentlemen in the film, the ones who were rejected from the Boy Scouts of America, was of much more importance than that of their later followers. When the violence was directed at the police, and citizens that had oppressed the black community I feel it was completely justified. Individuals with closed minds, and superiority issues, are generally not led to a change in vision by being respected and feared. I have never experienced anything even similar to what the gentleman in the film explained, but I completely respect their decision to retaliate, and find it unfortunate that a cause with such importance has become so perverse.
I truly do not understand how the change in pace took place. How fighting oppression turned into fighting one another. I also can not seem to come up with a reasonable solution to the problem that is "The Bloods" and "The Crips". Some of the Gentlemen in the film explained that they have never even stepped foot outside of their "Hood". How can you impose change on a person who has such a limited and Hateful outlook on the world.
Still today, the police and higher organizations, deal with the problem in the wrong way. Once again, as an outsider opinion, I do not think that the people that are paid to maintain the peace with the gangs have a firm enough grasp of what is really happening to manage and change it effectively. It is amazing to me how much different the people in the video live their lives in comparison to my own. I am very glad I was shown this film.