Ville: Cops and Kids in Urban America

Ville: Cops and Kids in Urban America

Ville: Cops and Kids in Urban America

Ville: Cops and Kids in Urban America

Synopsis

In Brownsville's twenty-one housing projects, the young cops and the teenagers who stand solemnly on the street corners are bitter and familiar enemies. The Ville, as the Brownsville-East New York section of Brooklyn is called by the locals, is one of the most dangerous places on earth-a placewhere homicide is a daily occurence. Now, Greg Donaldson, a veteran urban reporter and a longtime teacher in Brooklyn's toughest schools, evokes this landscape with stunning and frightening accuracy.The Ville follows a year in the life of two urban black males from opposite sides of the street. Gary Lemite, an enthusiastic young Housing police officer, charges recklessly into gunfire in pursuit of respect and promotion. Sharron Corley, a member of a gang called the LoLifes and the star of the Thomas Jefferson High School play, is also looking for respect as he tries to survive these streets.Brilliantly capturing the firestorm of violence that is destroying a generation, waged by teenagers who know at thirty yards the difference between a MAC-10 machine pistol and a.357 Magnum, The Ville is the story of our inner cities and the lives of the young men who remain trapped there. In thetradition of There Are No Children Here, Clockers, and Random Family, The Ville is a vivid and unforgettable contribution to our understanding of race and violence in America today.

Excerpt

The re-publication of Greg Donaldson’s The Ville by Fordham University Press is a great event for anyone interested in New York City history or the politics of drug enforcement. The Ville is, without question, the best book ever written about inner-city New York during the years of the crack epidemic. The Ville presents this tragedy from so many vantage points—those of the dealers, the police and prosecutors, the teachers and school principals, the families trying to raise children amidst the carnage, and the young people who, despite living in a danger zone, try to stay clear of a drug business that promised unprecedented rewards and even graver risks.

I can think of no other book that penetrates an inner-city neighborhood in New York in this era with such insight, such eloquence, and such respect and compassion for different groups of people trying to make a life in a world of limited opportunity rent by deadly violence. To put The Ville in perspective, I have to turn to media other than books. the only places I can find youth narratives of equal eloquence from the crack years in New York are in the hip-hop storytelling of jz, Nas, Biggie Smalls, and Wu Tang Clan. The Ville is the perfect companion volume to three of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, set in the housing projects of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island: Nas’s “Illmatic,” JZ’s “Reasonable Doubt,” and Wu Tang Clan’s “36 Chambers.” Donaldson captures the worldview of young people in a world shaped by crack almost as well as these amazing artists—while also providing an equally compelling portrait of their major adversary, the police.

And here, to put The Ville in perspective, you have to turn to what many think is the greatest tv series ever made, “The Wire.” The Ville is “The Wire” in print form, ten years earlier, set in Brownsville, Brook-

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