Chicago Center: May Term 2012
June 6, 2012
Text Response: Gang Leader for a Day
The author Sudhir Venkatesh story is being told throughout this book. Sudhir is a
25 year old man born in India, but lives in California. He is was a University of Chicago student studying Sociology, who is invited to do a study on how black people live day to day. Sudhir researched and surveyed people living in the housings projects to figure out how they lived their lives and about the poverty and race. His main question that he was asking people was "How does it feel to be black and poor?". Sudhir observes J.T and his gang as they go along with their own lives and his gang dealing. Throughout this book, it shows how people live in an urban poverty and what they do with their lives.
One connection I made reading the book to the class events and news items during the May term is how your racial profile and identity in the community determines peoples assumptions and perceptions of an individual. For example, when I first went to go to my placement is located in the south side, which is majority African-American, I was looked as a intruder and as a rival gang member immediately because of the clothes I wore and also because I’m black too. This is very similar to when Sudhir went the Robert Taylor projects, which he was called a Mexican, and the only reason he was called mexican was because of the way he looked. The gang thought he was a gang leader from the south side from a Mexican gang simply because of his racial appearance. (Page 14-15)
Another connection that I made from reading the book is the how many people in the community want to get the kids off the street and stop the violence and also to help the children in danger of dying and going to jail. Such as Diane Latiker and the Kids Off the Block, of the work she does to provide at-risk, low income youth positive alternatives to gangs, drugs, violence, and the justice system. This is somewhat similar to Lenny Duster, he was a ex-gangster who ran a small organization called Pride, which helped mediate gang wars. He talked to teenagers about the rights, responsibilities, and power of voting, he talked to them about the importance of education and told that they are wrong for dropping out of school. (Page 76-78)
One last connection that I obtain from reading the novel is the bullying that goes on so much in not just this community, but throughout our society as a whole. For example, I was standing at a bus stop waiting for the bus and I see a man messing with another man because he was smaller and weaker than him. As I got on the bus I felt terrible that I didn't say anything to try to stop it, but its because I’m not familiar with the area. This is very much similar to when Sudhir witnessed J.T. and others beat up