I was chilling with my roommates this evening and we began to have this discussion about the whole Black Lives Matter movement. I discussed my own sentiments, being that I thought the hashtags were very cliche. I was also confused as to why we as Black people only seemed to make a roar when someone other than a Black person kills one of our own. Where was the movements to end all this Black on Black crime that has captivated the inner city through gang-violence?
One of my roommates who is from Florida, said something to the effect of, where did this cycle of gang-violence even come from? Her question reminded me of this documentary called Bastards of the Party which was done by a OG from Athens Park Bloods named Bone. I began to tell my roommates about this documentary. My roomate suggested we watch the documentary so we pulled it up online, linked the computer to the television and delved in.
His documentary does a brilliant job in tracing the history of gangs in L.A. The name Bastards of the Party came from this book that Bone came across by a guy named Mike Davis called City of Quartz.
This book comprised the history of Los Angeles and it also included a map of various Blood and Crip gangs in Los Angeles, including Athens Park Bloods. This prompted Bone to take this book around the hood and show his homies. He also went to speak with Mike Davis who is a L.A historian and was also interviewed in Bone’s documentary.
Mike Davis relayed to Bone what he determined Bastards of the party to be. Which are the gangs that developed after movements like the Black Panther Party were dismantled. Through the ashes of the Black Panther Party, came the Bloods and the Crips. To understand this, you have to be familiar with the history of Los Angeles and understand what this history means for Los Angeles present day. Nothing that Blacks have gone through as far as the struggle of slavery and segregation, is separated from the struggle and climate that we see present day in inner cities across America especially South Central Los Angeles.
Many youth today do not even know why South Central is coined South Central–which has much to do with the Great Migration. This is where many Blacks, numbered in the millions, traveled from the south to escape deep racial tensions. They headed North, where there was this idea of greater opportunities and a more respectable way of life. Well, when these Black people began to arrive in Los Angeles specifically, Black people were not allowed to move past Central Avenue due to segregation. Many Blacks were confined within these blocks that soon began to become crowded. Despite this, Central Avenue during the 40’s and 50’s was a booming scene of music and culture that represented Black life.
During the time where Black people in America began to take a stand during the late 50’s into the 60’s, violence against them began to increase.
In Los Angeles a Black newspaper of the time called the California Eagle, documented the increasing attacks that began to happen to Black students at these schools where they attempted to integrate. What we saw, were Black students fighting back. Groups of whites used to ride through Black neighborhoods and terrorize the people and residents. One prominent group is called the Spook Hunters.
As a result, groups of Black people started to band together to protect themselves against these white people who wanted to do harm to them and their neighborhoods. Groups such as the Slausons, the Gladiators, the Businessmen and the Farmers emerged in South Central. These groups were so successful in fighting off these groups of whites that they began to fight their way into areas beyond the ones they were once confined to.
The places in which they could now travel was broadened. However, a major shift as noted in Bastards of the Party was white-flight. This is when large numbers of white folks left the city for the suburbs and conflicts within the black community turned violent.
When the Black Panther Party was bred in the 60’s, groups such as the Slauson’s began to attach themselves to political organizations. This could be seen through the actions of Bunchy Carter who established the L.A chapter of the Black Panther Party. Bunchy Carter was a lead member of the Slauson’s and was described as a natural-born leader amongst those that knew him. He was called the “Renegade of Slauson” or “That Nigga from the Slausons” and many referred to him as the Mayor of the ghetto.
Many people in the ghetto could identify with the Black Panther Party’s visions and goals, seeing as the BPP had already established free health care centers and a free breakfast program within the communities they operated in.
After the Black Panther Party was ordered to be destroyed by J. Edgar Hoover, the spirit and essence of the movement died just like the people who embodied it.
Bone wanted to know how in a matter of 5 years, we went from calling ourselves brothers and sisters to niggas and bitches. A lot of it did have to do with the drugs that began to infest the communities during and after the decline of organizations that were aimed at strengthening Black communities. In the documentary it touched on the whole 80’s slanging and banging lifestyle. Young kids who were in a sense locked out of the mainstream economic pool, were now in positions making thousands of dollars and there might even be a millionaire or two within these inner city neighborhoods due to the rise of neighborhood drug dealers. Instead of stealing a car, young black boys could now go buy a car from the dealership.
The film Superfly about the street pimp that came out on top, helped solidify Black people into a persona that said forget all that power to the people nonsense, it was power to yoself!
In the documentary Bone interviewed a Senator who said that drugs are color blind but they [police & government] focus on the inner city as the only ones involved. He also said that inner city Blacks were being used to market and distribute cocaine because the traffickers knew these were people who were viewed as useless to the majority society.
Most of the coke that was flushed into South Central, Los Angeles during the 80’s was to fund a war abroad. The plan was to bleed the inner city of money to buy weapons in Iran, to fight a war in Nicaragua–otherwise known as the “Iran-Contra Scandal.”
With the rise of the C.R.I.P.S through Tookie Williams and Jamel Barnes, we saw how the generation after the Black Panther Party still saw themselves as a part of the Black power movement. The Crips stood for Community, Revolution, Interparty, Service. The Crips drafted a constitution that was similar to the Black Panther Party’s. They even wrote to the state to be recognized as a organization. The conditions were to remove the “Revolution” from the name to be taken seriously; whereas they changed “Revolution” to “Reform.”
At some point the Crips received much flak for seeming to try and get “into” or “working with the system” rather than trying to dismantle it. The Crips decided to do things their own way and the focus and purpose of the crips started to shift. Meanwhile their numbers were increasing rapidly. Pretty soon those who were not crips started to become the target of abuse.
This caused the formation of the “Bloods.” Who considered themselves to be helping against the terror of the crips calling all those who were their own, their “Blood Brothers.” This seemingly small split has evolved over time into many neighborhoods of different Bloods and Crips, contributing to this massive conflict of Black on Black crime and gang violence that we see present day. And a lot of this violence could be avoided if kids who were in these gangs and inner cities in America, just knew their history. I’m not saying know American history like the back of your hand but at least know things that have affected or shaped your life. Such as the history of the nieghborhood you live in or the groups you decide to attach yourself to.
Mike Davis spoke about how he felt, that the gangs, although destructive, when analyzed critically represented certain aspects that could be viewed as positive. Within the subculture we see many who experience friendships, love, loyalty and a sense of community and belonging.
Mr. Davis also discussed “the collapse of the Black family.” He mentioned evidence which showed that in the 70’s, the collapse of the Black family actually started.
He said that much of it could be attributed to the fact that prisons in America were now human storages; warehouses of people no longer needed for the American economy. This has caused the holocaust of generations, especially Black people in America. Mike said that many people do not comprehend the importance of these aspects and history.
Mr. Davis discussed with Bone the history of economic deprivation within Los Angeles such as how during the 70’s and 80’s, the 14 biggest factories in Los Angeles closed down. Mr. Davis wondered how history might have been different if those factories were still there.
Mr. Davis is not the only one. I wonder what things would be like in South Central present day, if all the young ones coming up were really laced with this history and understanding.
I wonder where our communities would be if the BPP was allowed to bring empowerment and stability to the community.
What would things be like if gang-bangers present day over stood what embodied true soldiers? How many of the new generation know who OG’s like Bunchy Carter and those in the BPP were? People who understood that killing their own was not something they wanted to represent?
I wonder how many of my friends or other Black people would be alive today had they not been murdered by senseless acts of gang violence.
Above all, I wonder how many Black people would not be seemingly trapped in the slums of the ghetto present day–instead of out here in real society building and gaining all that we desire in life, which is exactly why the establishment wants us stuck there.
I realized that if most of the Black people in America are stuck in the ghetto, killing each other, fighting over crumbs with a crab in a barrel mentality, this decreases competition and tremendously increases the profits of those who are involved in the mainstream American economy–especially for those who reside at the top of the economic ladder.
But who can focus on rich white men at the top when you have people who look like you in your neighborhood, who want to see your demise?
“The parolees will never rebel until they become conscious.”