BlackLatin and Asian Gangs
3.Examine the relationship between political struggles and gangformation. What is the relationship between the decline of the civilrights movement/student movement/armed struggles and the formation ofgangs? Please examine the civil rights movement/studentmovement/armed struggles in its historical context (including thegoals, structure, impact and failures).
Gangsand politics are two closely related aspects of the society. Therelationship between youth gangs and politic an on again off againaffair. Most of gangs are formed by youths who feel that they havebeen sidelined by political agenda. At times, gangs have been drawninto nationalists, revolutionary, grass roots, and religious massactivity. Gangs also play both paramilitary and political roles insupport of powerful elites and have political organization inprotecting the underground economy. This essay looks at therelationship between gangs and politics in the world’s history.
Throughouthistory, three different periods of youth gangs’ politicalinvolvement can be identified. The first category of the earliestgang political relations is the mafia, triads, hooligans and votinggangs in different parts of the world. The earliest gangs were remoterebels Triads in China and Mafioso in Italy whose origin was thereresistance to external rule of the Qing dynasty and Spanish Habsburgsrespectively. These gangs were not entirely social movements but werecombined nationalist appeals with the lobbying of protection andcontrol over drugs, prostitution and gambling.This trend was experienced in Chinatown as gangs sought to controlthe underworld economy. The mushrooming of gangs, engaging in drugs,prostitution and extortion was evident. The influx of immigrants from Europe during the 19thcentury sparked periods of ethnic and class related conflict. Thebuilding of urban machines was dependent on ethnic bound politics andclashes of immigrant populace were the norm in many cities includingNew York. In New York, the prevailing Yankees were challenged by theIrish who moved voting gangs to threaten rivals. Politicians usedcorner kids to bully Tammany Hall’s electoral rivals. In addition,racial discrimination against African Americans and immigrants fromMexico facilitated the formation of white organized gangs who foughtagainst these groups. Thediscrimination of Chinese coming to the U.S during the constructionof the railway did not go well with the natives. Often, Chinese weremistreated and denied their basic rights. The compensations they weregiven for the services rendered was not worth their work. Howeverthey fought their way in the white dominated society leading torebelliousness against the natives.During the civil war Irish gangs assaulted African Americans. Klanand Draft Riots activity helped shun Los Angeles Mexicans mutepolitically in the beginning of the 20thcentury besides terrorizing blacks in the South.
Gang,politics and social movements between 1960’s and 1970s used tooppress people across the world as part of revolutionary strugglesand national liberation. For example, in South Africa youth gangs inthe slums of Soweto and other cities collaborated with the white ruleopposition parties of ANC and PAC in mass demonstrations andresistance to the apartheid empire. Nelson Mandela categoricallycalled on the ANC to win over the gangs for liberation. Sincepolitical alienation appeared more hopeful, the integration of thepoor youth was directed into political parties like in New Zealandand Northern Ireland. Gangs, as street organizations basicallyremained active in the underworld economy. These involved bankrobbery and extortion adopted by revolutionary groups from Irishrepublican Army to Uruguay’s Tupamaros. The dual character of youthgangs is evident in Chicago in the U.S. the Conservative Vice LordBlack Gangster Disciples and the Blackstone Rangers began tosystematize multi-neighborhood branches by the mid 20thcentury. Whites resisted black residential mobility and thewhite/black gangs continued to fight in schools and on the streets.Chineseminorities were often harassed by the whites. They were considered ashaving been taking job opportunities set for the natives. As aresult, the hostility between the whites and the blacks and theChinese took a new direction.Black gangs participated in petty hustling as well as in civil rightsmovement. By the end of 1960, all major Black gangs in Chicago wereinvolved in running businesses social programs and in politics.
Finally,gangs and politics are seen under the banner of globalization, thedrug economy and the influence of identity. As organizations of thestreets and players in the drug economy, gangs play a critical rolein the global era. The state of nations throughout the world has beenjeopardized as multinational companies transfer huge sums of money bythe click of a computer, destabilizing individual countries orregions. For instance, the demise of USSR insinuated that countriescould not anymore play one superpower off against another. Donationsfrom western economies and the World Bank are usually predicated onreducing domestic social spending in nations with considerably poorpopulations. Similarly the huge profits of the illegal drug economymade the mighty Mexican and Colombian cartels main political playersin their respective countries. To work for drug cartels is usually awell paying job for youths in ghettos, barrios and favelas. Thedemand for drugs in the western markets attracted several youths intothe business. Drug cartels recruited young men and women intodistribution of their merchandise across various cities for a bettercompensation. Since Chinese immigrants presented a vulnerablepicture, they were usually targeted for the work.
Theamalgamation of these factors led to the strengthened non governmentsectors including gangs who usually showed effective social dominanceover rural and urban territories of affected states. Uncertainties ofglobalization as a result triggered a crisis in identity.Revolutionary and secular identities of the youth were replaced byconventional notions of race and religion. Youth world over weregreatly influenced by Gangsta rap music founded on gang life inAmerican slums.
Conclusively,gang formation and political activity are two closely associatedaspects. World over, politics and gangs have closely worked togetherto achieve their objectives. Gangs influence voting, businessactivities, social political movements and even economies. The threeaspects of gang-political relations reflect the influence of gangactivity and politics in different time periods and places in theworld.
Chin,Ko-lin. Chinatowngangs: Extortion, enterprise, and ethnicity.Oxford University Press, 2000.