African-Americans and Latinos have a shared history of oppression, which is why I don’t understand the reasoning behind all the racial tensions in Los Angeles among these two ethnic groups.
Last week, federal prosecutors brought charges against 60 individuals from the Latino Florencia 13 gang, ranging from racketeering, drug charges and racially motivated crimes against African Americans.
The indictment claimed that members of the Florencia 13 gang intentionally tried to eliminate African American gangs from the area in an effort to “cleanse the neighborhood.”
The very notion of a Latino gang trying to eliminate members of the African American community is ridiculous in many aspects. First, they must realize that although there are language barriers and slight cultural differences, it is the marginalization of both of their ethnic groups that force many wayward minority teens to join gangs.
I don’t believe that one ethnic group is at a higher advantage than the other, both face similar injustices and prejudices on a daily basis, so instead of fighting each other they should join forces to fight for equality and opportunities that would benefit them.
A lot of the racial tension stems from the subcultures formed in prison. Inside, instead of bonding with one’s own gang, you form a stronger bond with your own race.. This goes far beyond Latino and African American gangs, the Aryan Brotherhood also follows this protocol, but the only exception within the race bonding is that Latino gangs in California also separate themselves by southern Latino gangs and northern ones.
Unfortunately, these prison ideologies don’t stay inside the California Correctional facilities, and when prisoners are out, they school other members on the do’s and don’t of racial affiliations.
As a Latina, I am extremely embarrassed to share my culture with these individuals. That isn’t to say that I think the blame is solely on Latino gangs just because the spotlight is on them right now, Latinos aren’t being victimized elsewhere. I do believe however, it is the responsibility of members of our community to reach out and try to diffuse racial tensions before they get so out of hand. This starts in the home, in schools, and in public meeting places.
We see more effects of racial intolerance in school-age kids everyday. Recently it happened with the Jena 6 in the South, and here in Los Angeles with all the racially motivated fights that broke out last year at Jefferson High School. It’s easy for parents, faculty and kids to point at each other, but it is my belief they’re both responsible for what members of their own communities contribute to the problems.
How do we expect kids to act if they see adults in their neighborhoods yelling at each other? Better yet, what do we propose would fix the racial gang problem if we can’t even control the fighting within high schools?
I think the problem that needs to be addressed goes beyond gang fights, because we all know delinquents will find a reason to hate anyone, whether it’s because you’re richer or poorer than them, the neighborhood you live in, the clothes you wear, it doesn’t matter. In places where there’s evident racial intolerance, there should be open forums for concerned parents or kids to be able to voice their opinions. By resolving problems while they are still small you avoid a snowball effect.
Do you have more to say than a comment? Want any feedback from the writer? Story ideas? Click on The Gripevine.