“My Side of the Racial Divide” By Ronald Chatman 6-7-05

I GREW UP IN LOS ANGELES IN THE 1970’s AND 80’s. IN THOSE DAYS RELATIONS
BETWEEN THE BLACK AND MEXICAN RACE WAS A VERY COPESTETIC SITUATION IN L.A.
WHEN THERE WAS NO RACIAL TENSION. AS A 4th GRADE STUDENT AT 24THSTREET
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, I WAS ONCE ASSIGNED TO TEACH THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE TO A
MEXICAN STUDENT, WHO HAD JUST MOVED TO L.A., FROM MEXICO. IN THE 70’s THE
POPULATION OF BLACK PEOPLE IN LOS ANGELES WAS MUCH GREATER.

CALIFORNIA USE TO BE A PART OF MEXICO AT ONE TIME IN HISTORY UNTIL until the
treaty of guadalupe hildago after the Mexican-American War that ended in 1848, SO
NATURALLY THE MEXICAN POPULATION IS GOING TO BE GREATER IN L.A. THAN OTHER
RACES. AS A CHILD I ALWAYS HAD FRIENDS OF MEXICAN DESCENT AND WE ALL GOT
ALONG AS WE STILL DO TO THIS VERY DAY.

NEIGHBORHOOD ROLLIN 20’s AND WESTSIDE HARPYS ARE 2 GANGS OF DIFFERENT
RACES THAT HAVE BEEN COVERING A LOT OF THE SAME GROUND FOR YEARS. THERE
HAS ALWAYS BEEN A COPESTETIC RAPPORT BETWEEN US AND THE HARPYS TO THIS
VERY DAY DESPITE THE FEW CONFLICTS THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN THE PAST.

THE 20’s HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN ATMOSPHERE WHERE THE BLACK AND MEXICAN GANGS
FROM THAT AREA OFTEN SHARE COMMON ENEMIES SUCH AS 18thSTREET AND OTHER
VARIOUS RIVALS. EVEN THE SMALLER HISPANIC GANGS IN THE 20’s THAT ARE RIVALS
TO THE HARPYS AND MAY EXIST WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THE WESTSIDE ROLLIN 20’
s LIKE THE DRIFTERS AND THE (NOW DEFUNCT) WESTSIDE ALCAPONES GANG HAVE
ALWAYS ALLIED THEMSELVES WITH N/H/B 20’s AGAINST WHOEVER OUR COMMON
ENEMIESWERE.

I WENT TO PRISON FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 1987 IT WAS THERE I HAD LEARNED OF THE
RACE RELATIONS AND PRISON POLITICS OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MEXICAN
GANG MEMBERS. I WAS SURPRISED TO REALIZE THE HISPANIC GANG FROM LOS
ANGELES AND THE REST OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (SURENOS 13), WERE ALLIED WITH
THE WHITE SUPREMACIST PRISON GANGS AND WERE SWORN POLITICAL ENEMIES TO
THE BLACK INMATES. THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA MEXICAN GANG MEMBERS
(NORTENOS 14), ARE ALLIED WITH THE BLACK INMATES THROUGHOUT CALIFORNIAS
PRISON SYSTEM AND NORTENOS AND SURENOS ARE SWORN ENEMIES. I CAN
REMEMBER BEING CAUGHT UP IN A RACE RIOT INSIDE OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY JAIL. I
HAD JUST ENTERED ONE OF THE MAINLINE MODULES WHERE I WAS TO BE HOUSED
WITH AB OUT 15 OTHER INMATES OF VARIOUS RACES.

WHEN THE GATES HAD OPENED TO LET US INTO OUR CELLS THE RACIAL TENSION
EXPLODED RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES BETWEEN BLACK AND MEXICAN INMATES FROM
EVERY CELL. WHEN RACE RIOTS TAKE PLACE, IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU ARE
INVOLVED OR NOT THE COLOR OF SKIN BECOMES THE MAIN ISSUE. I HAVE BEEN
INCARCERATED IN ANOTHER PART OF THE L.A. COUNTY JAIL SYSTEM AT WAYSIDE
MAXIMUM.

THIS WAS A MAXIMUM SECURITY COUNTY INSTITUTION WHERE RACE RIOTS FROM
DORM TO DORM TOOK PLACE ON A DAILY BASIS. IT IS OFTEN VOLATILE TO MIX BLACK
AND HISPANIC INMATES WITH THE SOCIAL INGREDIENTS OF POLITICS AND RESPECT
THERE IS BOUND TO BE A RACIAL EXPLOSION.

MY SETT NEIGHBORHOOD ROLLIN 20’s BLOODS AND THE BLACK-P-STONE BLOODS ARE
AT WAR WITH 18thSTREET (THE BIGGEST HISPANIC GANG IN ALL OF LOS ANGELES
COUNTY), MID CITY 13, AND A.T.C. 13 ARE ALSO MEXICAN GANGS THAT ARE SWORN
ENEMIES TO NEIGHBORHOOD ROLLIN 20’s. THERE IS A WAR TAKING PLACE IN THE
STREETS OF LOS ANGELES BETWEEN VARIOUS BLACK AND MEXICAN GANGS, NOW IT IS
OVERFLOWING TO THE CREATION OF A MAJOR RACE ISSUE.

IN SOME INSTANCES BLOODS AND CRIPS HAVE TO SET ASIDE THEIR DIFFERENCES IN
ORDER TO DEAL WITH THE CURRENT CONFLICTS OF RACE RELATIONS. I NOW HAVE A
SON AND A DAUGHTER WHO BOTH ATTEND HIGH SCHOOL IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY. MY
SON AND MY DAUGHTER HAVE TOLD ME ABOUT RACE RIOTS BETWEEN BLACK AND
MEXICAN STUDENTS, TAKING PLACE AT THEIR SCHOOLS.

LUNCH TIME IN THE LOS ANGELES HIGH SCHOOLS HAS BECOME SOMETHING YOU CAN
COMPARE TO YARD RELEASE IN THE STATE PRISONS SYSTEM. I HAVE BEEN READING IN
THE NEWS ABOUT VARIOUS HIGH SCHOOLS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EXPLODING INTO
RACIAL VIOLENCE BETWEEN BLACK AND HISPANIC STUDENTS. I ATTENDED JEFFERSON
HIGH SCHOOL IN LOS ANGELES BACK IN THE 80’s. I READ ABOUT A SEVERE RACE RIOT
TAKING PLACE THERE A FEW MONTHS AGO.

IN MY HIGH SCHOOL DAYS THE CRUCIAL COLORS OF CONFLICT WERE RED AND BLUE
NOW THEY HAVE CHANGED TO BLACK AND BROWN. CINCO DE MAYO (MAY 5, 2005) WAS
SUPPOSED TO BE A BIG DAY OF RACIAL CONFLICT IN THE STREETS AND IN THE
SCHOOLS OF LOS ANGELES. ALL IN ALL RACIAL TOLERANCE AND INTERGRATION HAS
BECOME RACIAL HATRED AND DISINTERGRATION.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME NOT TO BE PREJUDICE, AS I TEACH MY KIDS. HE ALSO TOLD
ME TO ONLY DISLIKE THOSE WHO DON’T LIKE ME. AS YOU CAN SEE THERE IS A LONG
CHAIN OF RACIAL HATRED IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BETWEEN 2 OF THE MOST
IMPOVERISHED MINORITY RACES. THE CYCLE OF HATE IS RAPIDLY REGENERATING
INTO THE LIVES OF OUR CHILDREN.

OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT BORN TO HATE EACH OTHER BECAUSE OF RACE. HATRED IS
TAUGHT TO THEM AT HOME FIRST BY THEIR PARENTS. WE ARE 2 BEAUTIFUL RACES OF
PEOPLE BOTH BLACK AND BROWN, BUT UNTIL WE ALL ACHIEVE TOLERANCE AND
UNDERSTANDING OF ONE ANOTHER, I TAKE A MILITANT STANCE AS A BLACK MAN ON
MY SIDE OF THE RACIAL DIVIDE.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply