The Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream

By Randol Contrems | Go to book overview

Introduction

BY THE EARLY 1990S, the South Bronx had changed. On my visits home from an upstate community college, I noticed that more and more neighborhoods had dried up. The “crackheads” and “crack whores” were gone, along with the drug peddlers who had barked: Red Top! Gold Top! I got Blue! Someone had cleaned the streets, dusting the drug dealers and drug users off the planet, leaving the South Bronx a ghost town. Coño, que pasó?

Eventually, my sociological interests landed me at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Since I still lived in the South Bronx, it was easy to stay in touch with neighborhood friends. So I often visited their homes, went out for drinks, and hung out on street corners. Mostly, we reminisced about the good ol’ days, going on and on about the old adventures and loves. Sometimes, though, they would ask me to go with them to see “this kid” or “this dude” about something. On the way, they would explain the meeting’s purpose: to set up a drug deal or organize a drug robbery.

Once the “meeting” started, I stayed away from it, leaning on cars or brick walls several feet away. I wanted no blame if they were busted by police. I didn’t hear nothiri, so I don’t know nothin, papa. I still got the lowdown afterward. My friends just wanted my opinion and support—my: You’re right, bro. Yet I kept seeing how their new crack and cocaine ventures always failed. Their only success was in drug robberies and they began calling themselves “stickup kids,” or joloperos. Soon I heard stories of them beating, burning, and mutilating dealers for drugs and cash.

Then the irony struck me. For the last several years, criminologists and politicians had been debating the big crime drop of the 1990s. In cities across the United States, crimes such as murder, robbery, rape, car theft, and assault had dropped dramatically. New York City, in particular, had experienced

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The Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Stickup Kids - Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations (after Page 11 4) ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Becoming Stickup Kids 33
  • One - The Rise of the South Bronx and Crack 35
  • Two - Crack Days- Getting Paid 56
  • Three - Rikers Island- Normalizing Violence 72
  • Four - The New York Boys- Tail Enders of the Crack Era 87
  • Five - Crack Is Dead 105
  • Part Two - Doing the Stickup 115
  • Six - The Girl 117
  • Seven - Gettin’ The Shit 136
  • Eight - Drug Robbery Torture 151
  • Nine - Splitting the Profits 176
  • Ten - Living the Dream- Life after a Drug Robbery 191
  • Part Three - Todo Tiene Su Final 203
  • Eleven - Fallen Stars 205
  • Conclusion 235
  • Notes 243
  • Index 267
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