Excerpts from Rodríguez's journals, written while living in Los Angeles,
Chivo wants a job. Chivo, Monica, and their son Joshua at home. Earlier
Chivo and Gyro went to a factory in East L.A. looking for work, but they
got "we will call you." Chivo says, "Nobody wants to hire
a gangster." Later he tells Monica, "I can't take you and Joshua
to the park, they'll shoot me and our family if they see us." The morning
after a carjacking Chivo goes to Monica's house to give her money for his
son and to help pay some bills.
John Hope Continuation High School
One teacher says, "For all the problems I believe I can help one out
of seventy students. About ten graduate every year." Later on in a
classroom the kids discussed the merits of an AK-47, comparing the cost
of a .380 vs. a shotgun. These kids don't believe in the dream, they see
corruption, they see starving people here, and yet Bosnia and Sudan are
Mr. Flores: "I have four foster kids, my son was killed in 1980 by
a gang.... You must try and save some of these kids. The best are six to
eight year olds. Around here after the age of eight it is a dangerous age
for kids. If you don't hold a kid it is too late. I teach them how to survive
with little money. Teach them values and how to save. My six year old was
caught stealing-he said, 'I did it because my mother used to do it.' I sat
down and talked to him. We show them not to be a hero. A coward is going
to live a long time, a hero is going to die."
Oki, Japanese-American, fifty-one years old said to me, "You can teach
your sons all good values: home, trust-and then one day he asks to borrow
the car and you ask to where and with whom.... But once he steps out that
door he is on his own on the streets where anything can happen.... In these
streets there is not a weekend that has gone by without a shooting in the
park." As I left down 1st Street, my farewell was met with rattles
of Uzi fire and clouds of smoke-the usual Friday night.
El Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Marcy, aunt of Husky, at home she begins to build an altar for Husky who
has recently been slain. Tonight they will have a rosario for him;
family and homeboys start to fill the tiny apartment. It is a tradition
to honor the dead on this day by bringing all things they had during life-food,
clothes, music, etc. Many tears are shed. I ask Marcy what she thinks about
the gangs. She says, "They are always being pushed, by family, society.
Husky didn't have a family although his mom and dad are alive. He wanted
to believe in something but all he found was Evergreen. They build their
own prisons in their own neighborhoods. It's confusing for a lot of them.
Trigger's mom gave him everything, and Trigger says one day, 'My mom was
always too busy.' She would say, 'I have to work.' What Trigger said was
'I would rather have just been loved.' Everyone is trying to prove something.
The boy who killed Husky was no older than fourteen. Before it was kids
having kids. Now it's kids killing kids. They have the need for somebody
to notice them."
Porky, sixteen years old:
"I wasn't always a gangbanger. I liked to draw. My mom and dad are
veteranos (veteran gang members), even when I was real young I started
going to school I was a real loner type. I was heavy.... One day I started
seeing my father dressed up in nice clothes. It was my birthday and I wanted
clothes to dress up like that. I wanted to be a cholo (gangster).
In seventh grade I got my brainwashing from a friend. I was twelve years
old. I have put in work (gang activities: stealing, robbing, shooting people)
for five years.
They shot my mother in the face and my little brother in the hand. They
shot at me in front of the house. I have too much heart. I've been through
so much I feel old. I have been shot ten times-look at me, I am really limping.
I am respected by all my homeboys, wanted by many, and hated by others,
but respected by all. I love the barrio (neighborhood) more than
I was loved."
Joaquim, Danny's older brother: "Being in a gang really limits you
to a small area to live in. You can't leave the block. I don't know where
to go. I like staying here taking care of this side, so we are always on
Extended interview with Chivo.
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