Lights. Camera. Gangs.
Sometimes the media portrays gangs in a negative light and it shows whenever you try to have a conversation with anybody. If you take anyone from the general public and try to converse with them about gangs, they always talk about how bad they are or the fact that they commit violence daily. The real truth is that it’s the media feeding us this information and the pubic reacts to it and in turn they see gangs as negative. When I was younger in elementary school, I was approached by two gang members, one blood, one crip, I could tell from their clothes they were wearing. Both of them said “you blood or are you crip” I just said I don’t know, it freaked me out at first but looking back at it now my perception has changed. Although people think gangs are bad, it’s the connotation of gangs that freaks people out, but this isn’t truly how gangs are, the media is to blame for the misrepresentation of gangs.
Although gangs can provide some good things to their respective communities, some things the media says are true. Unfortunately, it’s this part that news outlets exploit the most when reporting about gangs. When media outlets show off statistics, it’s only the sad and ugly point of view that’s being covered. “The ugly colors”, as how it’s called from the NY Daily News shows that “roughly 375 gangs or street crews operate in the city” and “gang members are responsible for 49% of shootings”. It’s very unfortunate that gang’s do these horrific acts of violence, but the stats don’t lie. This is the main reason why gangs get such a bad reputation. If it wasn’t for the media some gangs would be better off.
Because of the misrepresentation the media gives gangs, the general public depicts gangs negatively. It isn’t only news coverage that illustrates gangs poorly, movies (https://www.imdb.com/list/ls068433558/) are also to blame to an extent. The main reason these are made is to entertain and learn from but in reality, it’s just hyperbole. These gangs for the most part want to control parts of their territory without harming the public. While they can be intimidating, gangs usually don’t want to hurt or kill anyone. The closest depiction of how gangs can be is from the point of view of Geraldo Lopez speaking about how he was in a gang and how he got out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qkSMkiGWdg). A resonating statement from Lopez points out why gangs aren’t as bad as people think, “if we want people to leave gangs and re-enter society, then that means we have to let them re-enter society” . In other words, some of these gang members that just want to be a part of the community need a chance to be let back into a community.
Media and news outlets are to blame for the way gangs are treated because they only focus on the bad and violent parts of gangs which in turn makes people in the community afraid of them, thinking they might become their next target. The only way to stop the stigma around gangs is to have the public see that gangs aren’t as bad as the media puts it. A prime example of this is from the rapper/activist of the hip hop duo Run the Jewels Michael “Killer Mike” Render in his Netflix series “Trigger Warning with Killer Mike” (https://www.netflix.com/title/80144442) episode three White Gang Privilege. In the episode Mike exclaims that Biker gangs, who are mainly white, can cash in on their notoriety. While black gangs or as he calls them “street fraternities” like bloods and crips who are equally known can’t cash in on their gang’s name. Mike shows that the crips need to cash in on their fame or infamy in this case. To do that they needed a product to sell and hopefully get people to understand that they aren’t as bad as the media portrays. They decided to make and sell a soda named Crip-a-cola, but due to the fact it was made by a gang no store was going to sell it. It had to be introduced by unconventional means, in a soda tasting lab. The testers felt uncomfortable when the soda they tried was associated with a gang and with their knowledge of gangs because of the media thought “someone could get shot for having one of these”. The gang members had to step in and educate the testers that they didn’t want to be associated with the violence and just wanted to be a part of the community.
Someone active in their community might ask is it really the media’s fault that gangs get a bad reputation? Well the answer to that is yes and no, it can be a multitude of answers. But the main cause of why gangs are so misrepresented is the media’s fault. Since they only cover what atrocious things they do. Any ex-gang member would also put the blame on them too. I would hate it if people only talk about what bad things I did and suppress all of the good I’ve done. Making this map makes me reflects to my younger self with my first interaction with gang members, I was afraid that I was going to get beat up. But when thinking back to that moment now they probably wouldn’t have done anything to me at all. Not only that I can look at some gangs in a completely different way, they are human beings that just went on the only accessible path available to them. This complicates what the media is saying to anyone watching that all gangs are bad but, it’s not even close to the truth. In conclusion its better off not trusting what news outlets say about gangs and to try and do some personal research about them to get a better sense of what they can do for the community.
Hamilton, Brad. “Gangs of New York.” New York Post, 28 October 2007, https://nypost.com/2007/10/28/gangs-of-new-york/
Thomas Tracy. “Special Report: Gangs tied to 49% f shootings in New York”, New York Daily News, 13 December 2015, https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/gangs-represent-shootings-new-york-city-article-1.2464740
Gerardo Lopez. “I was an MS-13 gang member. Here’s how I got out.” Youtube, uploaded by Tedx Talks, 28 August 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qkSMkiGWdg.
“White Gang Privilege” Trigger Warning with Killer Mike Season 1, episode 3 Netflix, January 18, 2019. www.netflix.com/watch/80149618?trackId=14277283&tctx=0%2C2%2C93a99e27-9607-4618-8d13-fe8724843bcb-28507213%2C%2C