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

By Randol Contrems | Go to book overview

EIGHT
Drug Robbery Torture

AFTER READING THE ACCOUNTS OF violence presented here, readers might have one of two alarmed reactions. The first: These men are sociopaths who gain fulfillment through inflicting physical and emotional harm. Even if they are drug market participants, there must be a self-selection process. Not anyone can inflict pain so ruthlessly, so mercilessly. They must have been born that way. These men are monsters. (This was the response from some nonacademics in casual talks about my work). The second: Like most minorities, these men are bound up in an inner-city culture of violence. Thus, violence is socially inscribed in their bodies, their minds, becoming their social nature. These men are social monsters. (This is how some ethnographers felt I portrayed the study participants in an early draft.)

Both responses are understandable given the social morays against violence. However, both responses frame violent individuals as totally separate from mainstream moral bonds. This makes it hard to understand drug robbery violence sociologically. Even sociologists, who are trained to find the “social” in human interaction, will have trouble not passing moral judgment or keeping the “pathological” at bay. So I risk reinforcing racial and ethnic stereotypes, even if drug robbers hold only a small niche within the drug market.

To counter this tendency, I now analyze drug robbery violence within a broader social context. Like all violence, drug robbery torture is bolstered by the social—the societal logic, group dynamics, and emotions arising from the immediate event.

-151-

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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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