by J. MacDonald
Connecting ideas bred of the book Underground America, this highlights gangs and youth.
Dog Eat Dog World: Gangs and Urban Youth
Jose Garcia grew up in El Salvador with his grandparents, never knowing his mother or father, and migrating to the United States at thirteen with his sisters out of fear that guerrillas in his home country would murder him. Coming from these barbaric and uncertain circumstances at such a crucial growth-dominated age, he got involved in the gang scene of Los Angeles through way of his family members already involved; problems with the law and drugs soon followed in the wake. In the dog eat dog world of the LA underground Jose Garcia says, “in that neighborhood, if you’re not in a gang, you’re going to suffer.” A teenager dealing with poverty in the urban city climate of the United States today increasingly is seeing gang involvement as acceptable, because everyday the lines the law draws are being crossed in the streets around them.
Estrella’s story helped me to understand more so the pressures on young teens through her narrating about her sisters. She states that two of them are somewhat involved in gangs and citing that one had already been in trouble legally. The oldest of these siblings at the time of writing was sixteen years old! This directly heeds call to the claim that gangs are getting to kids faster now. With the gang involvement starting so early, it is easy to become accustomed as a blossoming young adult to it, because that is when your mind begins to build your personal infrastructure of morals and ethics. With each subsequent family gang member, there is more likelihood for more members of the family or friends of the family to join for acceptance, power, and money.
The dog eat dog world has long been outdated, replaced by laws, ballots, and elected officials. Today, the urban youth of America are being enticed into gang involvement across the nation; often times at ages before seventeen. As the primary growth period for individuality and morality, this provides an easy target age for gangs to persuade inexperienced young minds into accepting a life on the wrong side of the law. This shows that when Jose Garcia was exposed at fourteen to drugs that he was one of an increasing number of urbanized youth experimenting at younger ages. Also, when his family members recruited him to join the gang it goes to show that the rule he narrates: the more people you know on the streets the better off you are. The dog eat dog world is increasingly apparent in the gang culture of urban areas, and the fact that kids are now being targeted should be a primary concern.
J. MacDonald for American Identities