“My Bloody Life” by Reymundo Sanchez is a dark memoir that follows a young Puerto Rican kid who goes down a path of self destruction when he joins Chicago’s notorious street gang, the Latin Kings. Readers watch as the author becomes a violent member of the Latin Kings that is willing to kill anybody that looks at him wrong. However, the book also serves as a guide to gang culture and what we can do to help combat it. Therefore, I set my poster to be a brief guide of gang culture and a call to end the senseless violence. The left side represents the negative aspects of children growing up in neighborhoods where gang culture is highly prevalent. The middle represents why kids are drawn to gangs and why they choose to get involved with them. The right side is a call for action and helps provide ways we can help combat the issue of street gangs. When first looking at area’s where gang violence is highly prevalent, we can see that the neighborhoods are chaos. Death is just an everyday thing and the majority of the neighborhood is connected with gangs whether they like it or not. That begins the cycle of accepting the violence and not doing anything to stop it. Robert Harro’s cycle of socialization backs this up when it states, “We may get pressure from some to stop making waves, and accept the status quo” (Harro 621). This quote is clearly reflective of current society who now seems to brush off any shooting in a neighborhood that is considered bad or heavily gang populated. This creates a deadly pattern of more and more violence with little to no effort to stop it.
After seeing how the status quo was accepted, I decided to focus on why these kids then choose to get involved with gangs. The book provided several key factors that helped put the narrator down a wrong path. A big reason being a lack of parenthood in his life, which the author credits as the leading factor for a majority of his decision in getting involved with gang life. I decided to pick a quote about the adults in the author’s life and wrote, “The first thing he told me when he came was that I was lucky he hadn’t killed me. He told me I better watch myself because we were going to Puerto Rico to live in “his” house and I wouldn’t have anywhere to run or hide” (Sanchez 21). The quote demonstrates how the author’s step father was abusive and threatens the author’s life. It is also important to know his mother did not do anything to help him in these situations and was even abusive herself.
This is a key factor because the author wrote how the gang provided him a way out of his home and away from his beyond abusive step father. The author’s take on the situation is a further reinforcement of the idea that gangs act as a substitute for family. I researched into this idea and was able to find a study that studied this claim and it stated, “The idea of a gang acting as a substitute family is supported in interviews conducted by Joe Killian, a writer for the News and Record; Killian spoke with forty gang members from Greensboro, North Carolina. The men he interviewed reported that they considered fellow gang members to be family and that they took care of each other,” (Psychology Today). This quote is another clear demonstration of how the evidence the author provided for getting involved in gang life could be backed up in studies and is clearly a big factor for why children choose to get involved with gangs.
On the right side is where I decided to focus on how we can make change. After reviewing class material, I realized the cycle of socialization was a guide that Reymundo Sanchez similarly followed. To demonstrate this connection, I used a quote that stated, “It is marked by an intrapersonal change: a change in the core of someone about what s/he believe about her/himself,” (Harro 619). I liked this quote because Reymundo has a point in the novel where he realizes that the gang lifestyle is pointless and he needs to get himself out of the gang and make change to better the community.
All in all, my poster board is a brief educator and call for action, telling people how we can help combat the street gang problem. In reality, no matter how hard we try, gang culture will never stop as it is too prominent. However, we can help fight the issue and provide people the light to guide them down the right path. I hope my poster board can be one of these guides and help people realize that the violence needs to stop. I have provided facts about how bad it is and why people do join gangs. Now it is up to the people to make a change and help better themselves. Below I have inserted a link to a video that discusses why so many kids choose to get involved with gangs and violence. I would highly recommend if you have time to view the video as it is powerful and provides a more in depth look on the issue.
Anderson, Sam. “The Rise and Fall of a Latin King.” Latino USA. 13 Jan. 2018. 26 Feb. 2019 <https://latinousa.org/2018/01/12/rise-fall-latin-king/>.
Gal, Shayanne. “One chart shows how bad the shootings were in Chicago last weekend.” Business Insider. 06 Aug. 2018. Business Insider. 25 Feb. 2019 <https://www.businessinsider.com/chicago-shooting-statistics-chart-homicides-weekend-august-3-6-2018-8>.
“Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs.” LGBT | Youth.gov. 25 Feb. 2019 <https://youth.gov/feature-article/gang-prevention-overview-research-and-programs>.
Harro, Robert. “Cycle Of Socialization.”
“Latin Kings.” Chicago Gang History. 26 Feb. 2019 <https://chicagoganghistory.com/gang/almighty-latin-kings/>.
Hunt, Geoffrey P., and Karen J. Laidler. “PsycNET.” American Psychological Association. 2001. American Psychological Association. 25 Feb. 2019 <https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2001-01901-008>.
Muller, Robert T. “Poverty, Broken Homes, Violence: The Making of a Gang Member.” Psychology Today. 24 Aug. 2013. Sussex Publishers. 25 Feb. 2019 <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-trauma/201308/poverty-broken-homes-violence-the-making-gang-member>.
Rosenzweig, Ma’ayan. “Don’t Shoot, I Wanna Grow Up.” ABC News. 2011. ABC News Network. 25 Feb. 2019 <https://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/fullpage/chicago-gang-violence-numbers-17509042>.
Sanchez, Reymundo. My bloody life: The making of a Latin king. London: Vision, 2003.