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Study Questions for: Crips and Bloods: Made In America

NAME COURTNEY STRONG

Instructor: Dan Poole


Sociology
(Questions taken from viewers guide)
1) How do you think growing up in an impoverished neighborhood, or one where everyone around you is in a gang, would
impact your life? If you were growing up in South Central Los Angeles do you think you might have been tempted as a young
person to join a gang?

2) We hear Shaka, a Mad Swan Blood talk about the internal struggle of being in a violent gang, I wrestle with my moral
issues a lot, man, because I know that ultimately this ain't the way that God, or society, intended it to be. So, a lotta times,
man, I know morally I'm a good individual, but sometimes I gotta put that moral state of mind behind me and become an
animal. Can you imagine circumstances where you would do the same thing? What parallels do you see between gang
violence and warfare?
Gangs have always fascinated me. I imagine the polarity of my childhood, compared to those
who grow up in impoverished neighborhood strongly contributes to my misunderstanding of
gang culture. Ive often wondered why and how gangs are formed, and found it perplexing
when people use gang and family interchangeably. In viewing Crips and Bloods: Made in
America, a new light was cast upon the birth of the Bloods and Crips in South Central LA.
Historical events and accumulated years of oppression inevitably created the results of
todays gangs. Throughout the film members say, You have no choice, There is no choice
for people like us. I see it now. When you are surrounded by a world that claims freedom
and shoves the brightness of the American Dream down your throat, yet, you are confined
within that world to reap none of the benefits, the realism of no choice is blatantly
apparent. It isnt a lack of desire for a better life or human moral. It becomes about
finding a sense of unity at any cost, and surviving to the best of your ability.
I can only assume that if my life had paralleled similarities to those in South Central
LA, joining a gang wouldnt have tempted me because it would have been a part of me.
Having a network to care for me and meet my needs would be my family. Today I belong to a
traditional sense of the word family and I would willing die for any member. If I were
in a gang, it would be no different.

3) Early on in the film Kumasi and Bird talk about growing-up in South Central LA and being turned away from the Boy
Scouts because they were African-American. As a child, how do you think an experience like this would have impacted your
self-worth and your feelings toward society? Have you ever encountered a situation where you were not allowed to participate
because of your race, gender, religion or sexual preference?
I cant think of anything in life that is more hurtful and impacting as rejection.
Encountering a situation such as this would have rooted a deep seed of anger and
distrust toward society.

I remember in the second grade I brought my best friend Samantha to my house for a
sleepover. I was so excited to have her at my house because we usually played at her
house. We had dinner with my family at 5:30 pm as usual and my dad had a beer with
his meal.

I dont recall the majority of the night, but I assume we spent hours

bouncing on the trampoline and rehearsing our reenactment of James and the Giant

Peach. Back at school on Monday I couldnt find Samantha anywhere. We always met for
recess near the tetherball court. It wasnt until our lunch recess that I spotted
her. Naturally, I ran up to her and told her Id been looking for her all day.
Without a word she swiftly turned and ran away. So I chased her. The bell rang and I
made it back to my desk sweaty, hot, and more confused than ever. I knew she took
the bus home so I gathered my things and rushed to her bus line after school. It
felt like hours waiting for her. When she finally joined to migrating line of
students stepping onto the bus, she looked back at me and said, I cant play with
you anymore because your dad drinks alcohol.
I was so hurt and mad. I was mad at my dad. None of my other friends dads drank a
beer with dinner. They wore suits and went to church on Sunday. My dad was ruining
my life by playing golf on Sundays and nursing IPAs with dinner and he didnt even
know it.
I remember my dad sitting down with me as I cried and telling me that this wouldnt
be the last time Id experience something like this. He told me he loved me. My dad
invited me to continue to be friendly toward Samantha even though our families may
have seen things differently.
I couldnt believe he wasnt upset with her. My dad was right, that wasnt the last
time I faced problems with people because I wasnt Mormon. Misunderstanding Mormons
and their beliefs is still an issue I struggle with today. I have many family
members and close friends affiliated with the LDS religion and I try my best to be
friendly even though I see things differently. I understand that walking around with
a heart full of hatred is poisonous and ripples into all areas of my life. It isnt
easy to let go of my prejudices because they evoke emotions which seem
uncontainable. I know it is something I deserve to work on if I desire a peaceful
existence.

4) At the end of Crips and Bloods: Made in America, we see former gang members turning their lives around. For example
Raymond Ford who pulled back from his gang after his son saw him selling drugs... Right then I made a choice in my life.
Whether I was gonna stick by them... or stick by us. "Us" is meaning me, my neighborhood, my gang. "Them" meaning my

kids. So, I chose to stick with them. What do you think it takes to make this kind of choice? What institutions are out there to
help someone like Raymond? How could more gang members be led to the path Raymond chose?
Raymond Ford is a true example about the bond between blood. It is innately
indestructible and powerful beyond measures. When it came to himself, the life he
was living was acceptable. When he saw the same lifestyle as his childrens future
his outlook changed. Why would it be ok for him but not for them? I think that is
the real question. How often in life are we engaging or participating in choices
that we wouldnt wish on the ones we love? I feel that having a sense of self-love
and respect plays a huge part in decisions we make. A percentage of self-love and
respect were being fulfilled through his gang life or he wouldnt have been living
it.
Sometimes it takes events, like having children, to realize the predicament you are
in isnt what you really want. I think that Raymond is a perfect advocate for making
a positive change among broken communities. He has walked in the shoes that gang
members are in. People need others they can relate to, who understand their journey
and struggles. If gang members observe other men and women living fruitfully within
their community, then no choice becomes non-existent. That doesnt mean that the
rest of us get to stand by and watch because we are perpetuating the institution. I
believe it begins on an individual level. We need to wake up in order to change.