Gangs and Gang Behavior
Gang Life, Our Life:
A Story about Friendship and Diverging Roads
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great—Mark Twain
With the passing of time, the birth of babies, the sentence handed down by a judge and jury, and the pulling of a trigger, it has been interesting to see where the lives of five best friends have ended up. Being that I am one of these five, the only girl, and the youngest, the telling of their stories is my tribute to the four men who I grew up with, looked up to, admired, and would have died for. Respectively, this story is simply about Gunny, Pharaoh, Big Ron, Voodoo and me, skoolgrl1. Our stories are connected and completely intertwined—no one existed separately. We were like one spirit dwelling in five bodies. We were a united front, we had each other’s backs, and we loved each other with the kind of love that was unexplainable, even to the other members in Grape Street Crip2. Maybe I should start at the beginning.
Even though I don’t know how or when we all became friends, we just always were. Growing up in my neighborhood, there were very few white families and even fewer families whose parents were still married much less were ever married. My family was both, so I immediately stuck out. It was in 1983 that I realized that the people that I had always hung out with were “gang members.” However, it wasn’t until around 1987 that I began to be absorbed into this life. Basically, we became a gang out of necessity—kill or be killed. Yes, we were part of a larger group, but it was the five of us who were inseparable. Even though there was a negative definition connected to the word “gang member,” I didn’t see it as a negative. The “bad” gang bangers were our rivals. Plus, these were my friends, the brothers I never had. They were the ones who protected me when we would go to parties and black girls wanted to jump me because I was white. These were the guys who wouldn’t let me go with them when they went to do a drive by because I was too young and they didn’t want me to get hurt. These were the guys who had come into my home and eaten with my family, helped my father fix our cars, said ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’ when my parents spoke to them, helped my mother pull the laundry down from the line, and installed stereo equipment in my mom’s car for her (even though it was stolen). These were the guys who my mother refused to call by their nicknames and still to this day calls them by their real names. Even though they hated it, they would just smile at her because they respected her. These were good guys who happened to hang out all the time, sell dope, and commit illegal activities such as bombing trains, tagging walls, GTA’s, 187’s, armed robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon, just to name a few.
Yet even though I practically worshiped these men, I knew that our choices in life were immoral, illegal, dishonest, destructive, and would ultimately lead to death. However, even with that understanding, I didn’t want to leave them behind nor did I want to be left behind. By the time I was 18 years old I had buried ten of my homeboys; not something that any 18 year old should have to do. Even so, this was the norm for us—we weren’t shocked to hear about another one of our homies gettin’ smoked. However, in 1992 our lives took a drastic turn that forever changed us. So having said all that, here are their individual stories, our connected stories—my story.
Being just a little over five feet tall he always had to prove himself; he always had to be the “hardest vato” in our hood. His parents emigrated from Mexico when he was a young boy, but even to this day he still has a bit of an accent. By the time he was 13 years old he we was selling dope. He had dropped out of junior high and started