Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My American Gangster.

TwitThis

I understood Ridley Scott's point about gangsters when
Denzel murked Idris and then promptly returned back to
the diner to eat with his family and discuss what it means
to be loyal and faithful. To have a code.

The muder scene was almost comical. And it was meant
to be based on the
expression of some of the actors faces
after witnessing the murder.

I was also disturbed by the scene because it made light
of the fact that A MAN could be so powerful so as to feel
comfortable murking another man in broad daylight and
was sure that those who saw the event take place KNEW
better than to talk to the police. It was as if he presumed that
the witnesses would remain silence, so “I can do what the
f*ck I need to do.”

I have been thinking about the general premise of American
Gangster. The notion of the benevolent COKE/CRACK dealer
who REALLY loves the hood and it dovetails nicely with
Will Okuns latest piece in The Times about his students who
are members of gangs.

He points out that having had conversations with his
students that there are four reasons why students join gangs.

He also talks about the intervention he attempted with a kid who
was murdered recently.

I asked my classes if gang members feel any remorse when an innocent bystander is killed. I asked if this type of tragedy forces gang members to at least temporarily question or reduce their own violent actions. I asked if gang members feel regret that their community expresses outrage that their “children are too scared to play outside.”

To all three questions, the students answered with a resounding no. One student volunteered, “That kid was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

It is easy to write off gang members. In my school, they are often hard, violent, disrespectful, indifferent, ignorant, hostile, agitated, boisterous and confrontational.

But sometimes you get a glimpse behind the steely fa├žade and realize that many of these gang members are just scared, angry teenagers who have raised themselves and are trying to navigate an adult world on their own. Both their support system and their safety net in this chaotic environment are disproportionately small.

You just want to grab them and yell, “Stop! Life does not have to be this way. You do not have to be this way. I can see who you really are. It is not too late to change.”

When I first came back to the bay, my cousin told me I could
earn $60K starting, annually, working at juvenile hall. I was like,
“why does it pay so much?” He said the work was hard. I told my
dad about it, and he said that that not only was the work hard,
but that it is very difficult to watch people fail.



Okun’s recent article reminded me of this.

Back to American Gangster. I also thought about Russels
observation that “some people just don’t want to stop
drugs from entering the country” so many “laywers,
correction officers, judges” would lose their jobs. And to
that I say salute.

Where is the economic analysis of the number of jobs
created by the sheer volume of Black/Brown men and
women who are in jail violent AND non violent drug
offenses. How would our economy be impacted if
these offenses were no longer prosecuted at the current rate?

What would happen to said our economy IF those
prosecutions ceased?

I ask these questions to get us in conversation
about whose interests are being served by having such a
robust prison population.

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You seen American Gangster?

What is your feeling on "humanizing" a Drug Dealers?

Why isn't the same level of scorn directed towards Ken Lay and
Jeff Skilling of Enron? Is it the white collar/street crime distinction?

Is it way of looking at an individual or does it constitute going soft when
what you really need to be is critical?

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11 comments:

J!!! said...

Im guessing ken lay and jeff skilling dont get the same amount of scorn because they may steal money and use deception to profit. but the frank lucas's of the world use deception and steal lives to profit.

In every dollar profited from Heroin sales, is a piece of some poor mans or womans soul which can never be brought back or used again.

In every dollar stolen from corporate employee's, is a piece of their toil and effort, but at least they still have their lives to possibly change their future for the better. when they hit bottom, its not a 6 foot pit and they can actually get up and use their 2nd chance for the better.

But Aye, in no way am i Defending White men fully capable of understanding the ramification of their actions more throughly than a very uneducated frank lucas.

Multinational Corporations are the real criminals being they fund both sides one way or the other.

But thats another convo for another day

Drug dealers are human so i can understand them adding a human element to homie. As far as i know they arent shapeshifiting demons. but thats as far as i know.

in essense, Frank was just trying to survival the best way he knew how and the best way that was afford to him. had some corporate lawyer done the same thing bumpy did by taking him in, frank would have been the clarence thomas of his day, sans the scandal.

I thought american gangster was a decent movie. my boy P from jerz, by way of the bay might i add, thought they should have shed more light on his relationship with bumpy. who knows. its no carlito's way. At least he had a plan of getting out when he got his money up.

Chea!

M.Dot. said...

In every dollar profited from Heroin sales, is a piece of some poor mans or womans soul which can never be brought back or used again.

In every dollar stolen from corporate employee's, is a piece of their toil and effort,
=======

Ah HA. The distinction.

Moniker said...

I haven't seen American Gangster---yet.
Despite some criticisms, I hear the movie is worth watching, but the fact that Frank Lucas opted to snitch on other dealers after being faced with losing his own life (liberty) despite being the cause of so many others losing their's, doesn't sit well with me. A part of me doesn't want to support that.

To your second question, I know a lot of drug dealers. Some small time, some not so small time. Some grown, some still in High School. It sounds corny, but one thing I do know is that drug dealers are human. They do feel. They're not so much different from the white college student stepping on his peers in order to obtain his law degree. They both hustle. They both use deception as a means of getting ahead. And when that white boy gets his degree, he'll spend his career fighting to revoke the liberty of the accused not so much unlike the drug dealer.

At the same time, I don't support drug dealers anymore than I support those in gangs. Life is about choices. Dealing drugs and gangbangin' is a choice, not a necessity.
And despite their aggressive persona, I've never considered them to be tough; just lazy, unmotivated, insecure individuals.
Really getting to know someone who's involved in that shit will show you that.

I'm actually taking a criminal justice class right now and the way my teacher explained it to me, white collar crime isn't considered a violent crime. Drug dealing (with everything the life entails) is.
j!!! hit the nail on the head when s/he said "ken lay and jeff skilling dont get the same amount of scorn because they may steal money and use deception to profit. but the frank lucas's of the world use deception and steal lives to profit."

Moniker said...

in essense, Frank was just trying to survival the best way he knew how and the best way that was afford to him.
__________________________________

Something about that bothers me. When you see how so many people out here (single mothers, college students, high school drop outs) work two jobs and struggle to make ends meet, you really start to see that shit as an excuse.

Moniker said...

Now THIS right here is some shit for you.

"RFID Chips in School Uniforms Track Students"

How would you feel about this: Tracking chips in kids' school clothing so that school officials can know their whereabouts during the school day?

Oh, it's happening. Ten students in a secondary school in the United Kingdom are being tracked through RFID implants in their school uniforms in a pilot program. Information Week reports that the kids attend Hungerhill School for ages 11-16 in Edenthorpe, England.

Add the RFID chips to increased video surveillance and fingerprinting of kids, and this is a heavily tracked generation—for safety's sake.

http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/devlin/17027


Is this the kind of fucked up world we live in?

M.Dot. said...

Something about that bothers me. When you see how so many people out here (single mothers, college students, high school drop outs) work two jobs and struggle to make ends meet, you really start to see that shit as an excuse.
======

Real talk. The problem with the statement presumes that D'Boys/Ladies DON'T have a choice. They do. Albiet limited choices that entail long, SLOW, small cake.
But alternatives DO in fact exist.

Its not LIKE CRACK HAS always been around.

Negro hoods, and low income hoods alike have always had lil drug/likker pockets. BUT the hustlin' mentality is some new since '85 shit.

M.Dot. said...

I would consider RFID IF:
a. It can be shown to reasonably related to a necessary goal.
b. If there are controls for abuse set forth.

Other than that.

Orwellian.

J!!! said...

Yooo thanx for the props Moniker.

Something about that bothers me. When you see how so many people out here (single mothers, college students, high school drop outs) work two jobs and struggle to make ends meet, you really start to see that shit as an excuse.

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This is not to say i would choose his plan of action to rectify my dismal situation if i happen to be caught in the same predicament, But i can see where hes coming from to an extent. By any means necessary...

Bumpy had bread and it looked like an easy way out of a shitty situation. Aint to many people that could turn that down. Laziness is a vice that often accompanies gluttony. Thats all im sayin. Sometimes working your ass off at the bottom of the totem pole doesnt always bear fruit. (c) Enron Employee's.

Im just sayin.

-----------------------------------

I did a little post on the Brain Chips Clemson is working on to implant in our soldiers head to measure vital signs 24 hours a day.

Check it out : http://flawlesshustle.net/blog/

Those uniforms are just the Tip[ll]

M.Dot. said...

Aint to many people that could turn that down.
=========

Real talk.

"When the heat start glarin/ and the teeth start showin/ Imma rob me a person".

Naw. Man. We ALL have been hungry before.

BUT. I err on the cautious side of victim-ology. Because thats some real dangerous logic.

If yo gonna be tribal and grind, to get cha cake do that sh*t. YOU COULD work at Walmart, but you on that Fuck watchu going through I want 8-9 stacks a day.

Capital P said...

Loved the movie...

The one glaring thing that I try to impart on my students who hustle, who feel that the streets is what's going to get them rich, is that there is no "code of the streets". I hate that term, because what a lot of them don't realize is that if it comes down to it, your mama would rat on you if she was doing dirt and could get off on a lesser charge. I'm not the one to be wearing stop snitching tees and all that, but there is something disturbing to me about someone who does dirt and then tries to get off by getting on someone who's doing the same thing. That's bull$hit to me, on all levels, from the prosecutors who pursue those deals, to the defensive attorney's who succumb to those deals, to the criminals who will not pay for their particular crimes because they gave someone else up.

Frank Lucas + 15 years behind the wall = BS.

BUT, if you're going to turn in somebody, a crooked cop would be the first on my list, lol!

As far as humanizing criminals, I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. We're all human, we all have family, have gone through some shit. But it's always our inhumanity that gets in in trouble. I think the movie did a pretty good job of portraying both sides of Lucas' humanity, although that broad daylight murk session was a little bit over the top. But, as my student told me on Monday, "Mr. Proctor, that was gangster."

Indeed it is youngun...

White collar crimes will never have the same distinction as street crime. It's as simple as black and white. Really, I don't know of any black person who was the head of some Enron/Arthur Anderson type shit.

Martha Stewart - lies and keeps things from Feds and gets country club vacation.

Lil Kim - lies and keeps things from jury and gets sent to general population.

M.Dot. said...

I hate that term, because what a lot of them don't realize is that if it comes down to it, your mama would rat on you if she was doing dirt and could get off on a lesser charge.
=======

Certainly. The idea of a code is quite appealing.

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