The End of the Line: California Gangs and the Promise of Street Peace

By Rodriguez, Luis | Social Justice, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

The End of the Line: California Gangs and the Promise of Street Peace


Rodriguez, Luis, Social Justice


IN THE FALL OF 2004, MAJOR ARTICLES ON GANGS APPEARED IN VARIOUS SOUTHERN California publications--including the Los Angeles Daily News, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Most decried the growing violence, drug sales, and seemingly unworkable responses to gang violence. (1)

Early in 2005, an alleged gang youth, a Marine recently AWOL from Iraq, made the headlines when he killed a police officer and then himself at a convenience store near Modesto. His family denied any gang ties, but most of the media reported this allegation. (2)

In fact, the country's most notorious "supergangs" originated in California: the Crips, Bloods, Hell's Angels, Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia, Mara Salvatrucha, 18th Street, Sur Trece, the Aryan Brotherhood, and others. Most would think relatively warm weather as well as breathtaking mountain and shoreline regions could temper any such developments. But something fishy must be going on here--and I don't mean tuna. Not only does this state lead all other states in the nation in terms of the number of people incarcerated, it also has the worst prisons in a country in which any prison is a living hell.

What gives? Why does California lead the country in the "worst" categories--worst in the arts, worst in education, worst in violence--despite being the sixth-largest economy in the world and home to the wealthiest communities in the history of humanity? There are no simple answers, but I will examine a few issues to help shed light on the "trouble in paradise" this state seems to embody.

A Quick Overview

California is the country's most populated, most agriculturally rich, and most industrialized state. It has the largest number of foreign immigrants in the United States. Most immigrants are poor Mexicans. But there are also large numbers of refugees--especially during the last two to three decades--from Central America, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Armenia, Iran, and Russia. Every major poverty center in the world ends up sending tens of thousands to our shore, especially from the Pacific Rim countries. (3)

The economic structure in the state consists of several layers. They range from the poorest in the migrant-magnet of agriculture, with the Central Valley taking in the bulk of them, to professionally trained, computer-literate foreign students and workers, to the extremely wealthy, who are tied to the media, entertainment, energy, and technology industries.

Despite its marvels, and some wonderfully cohesive and livable communities, California is particularly strained along racial and class lines. Although I grew up in Los Angeles, I lived in Chicago for 15 years (1985 to 2000). Even though Chicago is highly segregated and is known for a particularly virulent legacy of entrenched racism, the discord I felt when I returned to California was far more pronounced. In fact, four times after my return, I was told to "go back to where I came from." Three of these incidents involved whites (including a family I encountered in a Chico, California, grocery store), and one was a black woman in the barrio of Pacoima in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

The animosity between citizens and the undocumented is intense. Groups such as Save our State and the Minutemen have staged anti-immigrant vigils. Governor Schwarzenegger even praised these vigilantes and invited them to patrol the state's border with Mexico. There are also conflicts between African Americans and Mexicans/Central Americans in the bigger cities, and between middle-class, upwardly mobile whites (and others, including Asians, some Mexicans, and a few blacks) and poorer, increasingly neglected people. This last group continues to be mostly black and brown, although a significant proportion of the poor in this state is white.

California also pioneered anti-bilingualism referendums, although there are up to 250 languages in our schools (not counting the many indigenous tongues from tribes scattered throughout the state). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The End of the Line: California Gangs and the Promise of Street Peace
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.