Why do people join gangs? What happens in that gang? What is so special about being in a gang? Through research, it is clear that the biggest predictor to gang involvement is all of the “positives” that come in being in a gang because when you join a gang, you get certain “perks” that other non-gang members get.

What I mean as in “perks” are:

 

  • Respect
  • Money
  • Easy access to drugs and alcohol
  • Easy access to guns
  • Protection

 

People who are in a gang or are thinking of joining a gang can leave/not join a gang by doing something else with their lives. To begin, Hisham, an EDP teacher I interviewed, came up with a very good way to prevent people from joining gangs. He stated, “If I could do something about the gangs, I would collaborate with men (specifically people of color) who come from poverty to be given a job so that they stay off the streets”(Hisham). Something important that I noticed from that quote was that Hisham said, “collaborate with men who come from poverty to be given a job”(Hisham). This is significant because what he said was actually an amazing idea. Men in poverty SHOULD be given a job to stay off the streets. Secondly, In Kate McLean’s article, “Gang Wars: Oakland leaves locals perplexed, upset”, it talked about everyone’s mixed emotions about gangs. In one sentence, a person by the name of Callis, said, “So many students aren’t involved in gangs but they have to live with the violence. They lose friends and loved ones and they survive-and they are resilient”(Callis). This is important because it was saying how people in Oakland have to fear the outside world, thinking they’ll get killed. I don’t want people to move into Oakland and just start having negative emotions/thoughts about this city. I know this city can do and be better. Some may argue that people joining a gang can’t be prevented, but I believe that it can.

 

Adding to what I’ve said earlier, people who join gangs might join them because they know the “perks” of being in one, so they already know what they’re going to earn when they join a gang. Starting off, when I interviewed a bus driver who only provided her first name, Michelle. I asked her, “what do you think should be done about gangs in Oakland”? She replied with, “Nothing should be done about the gangs because people protect themselves by joining gangs”(Michelle). I found this interesting because this was exactly what I meant for the “perks” someone can get for being in a gang, in this case, protection. This is actually true because there are people who are being watched and are afraid, so their only hope was to join a gang so that they’re protected all day. If I were in a situation like this, I would’ve notified the police about the problem. Furthermore, in Scott Johnson’s article “Element of racism among rival Latino gangs in Oakland”, he interviewed a Latina by the name of Karina Naveja. During the interview, Naveja stated, “There was so much violence between black and brown people, there were huge fights. Joining a gang was how I protected myself”(Johnson). Some major keywords I found in the quote were “protection” and “violence”. Based off these keywords, I already knew that the quote was stating that people who were afraid of someone that they would join a gang for protection. This is important because people who do these types of things are those who are afraid of telling on the person they’re afraid of, not realising that they can tell the police so that they ACTUALLY do something about it. Some may argue that people join gangs just because they want to, but I believe that there’s more to that because everyone has a reason for doing something.

 

Some may argue that former gang members can’t do anything else with their life or people just join gangs for no reason, but I believe that former gang members CAN do something else with their lives and people do join gangs because of something that’s going on in their lives. It’s just that other citizens always think about the negative things when he/she sees a gang member.
Finally, it is clear that the biggest predictor to gang involvement is all of the “positives” that come in being in a gang because when you join a gang, you get certain “perks” that other non-gang members get.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Why Join Gangs? by Gerardo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

10 Comments
  1. Carmen 10 months ago

    Hi Gerardo,
    In your post “Why Join Gangs” I learned the reasons why young people are inclined to join gangs in Oakland. I found your post creative and informative. Some of the perks that you listed maybe related to questionable activities and may get young people in trouble but I also understand that is part of the life they chose to follow. I like the interview questions and the way that you incorporated them throughout your essay.

  2. Fili 11 months ago

    Dear gerardo

    I am interested in, when you people join gang think they could leave.I don’t want people to move into Oakland and just start having negative emotions/thoughts about this city.This quote is interesting because in real life so many people ask me is oakland dangerous?

    One thing you said that stands out for me is:She replied with, “Nothing should be done about the gangs because people protect themselves by joining gangs”.I think this is sad, because we have the police to protect us citizens.

    Your essay reminds me of something that happened to me. One time i was with my twin brother and older brother we was driving to the liquor store in oakland.This was around 9:36 pm @night on a saturday.So a black Escalade pulled up close to us and two black male got out the car and me and my twin brother was looking at them.They got closer to the car and they pulled out their guns and start it shooting at the store.
    Thanks for your project. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because it was a good writing and you might change people lives in oakland or any area that has gangs in it.

    • Author
      Gerardo 10 months ago

      Dear Fili,

      Thank you for you’re reply. I like how you told me that you had a personal experience with something similar to the topic. If you don’t mind, can you tell a little bit more about your experience? Did anyone get shot? Were you or your brother hurt? How long did it take for the men to leave? Please tell me more.

  3. Jamillie 11 months ago

    Dear Gerado, I am in a disagreement with the person that you interviewed because not only people of color are in gangs or get easy access to drugs / guns white people also. People of color sometimes get in gangs because they think that it is cool but so do white people too

  4. Marlini 11 months ago

    Dear Gerardo

    I am impressed with your post “why join Gangs” because You actually pointed out what people that don’t live in Oakland think about Oakland Gangs, I also like how you interviewed a lot of adults on their thoughts about helping gang members.

    One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is, “If I could do something about the gangs, I would collaborate with men (specifically people of color) who come from poverty to be given a job so that they stay off the streets” I think that this quote significant because he directly pointed out to help “specifically color of people” because they are most likely to join a gang because they come from poor neighbourhoods and also how Mr.Hisham came up with a very good idea on how to teenagers from getting into gangs by providing them with job opportunities which will prevent them from getting into gangs.

    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing more of your writings.

  5. vernajah 11 months ago

    Dear, Gerado
    I am touched by your piece of work, “Why Join Gangs” because it shows a lot of gangs in gangs. Also i really liked how you explained why people need to or want to be in a gang.
    One sentence that really stood out for me is “Nothing should be done about the gangs because people protect themselves by joining gangs” I think this is diffrent because people really do join gangs for protection and other reasons why too. I think this city can d do way better than other cities. Another sentence that really stood out to me was “If I could do something about the gangs, I would collaborate with men (specifically people of color) who come from poverty to be given a job so that they stay off the streets” because of threats from gang members or fear but because they do not trust police. The police officers are known to be racist towards brown and black people by using excessive force or unjust brutality, and maybe this impacts people’s decisions to ask them for help.Thank you for writing. I look forward to reading your next post because I really like the perspective you put on gangs and why people join. It makes other people think about why gang members are really a part of the life they lead.

    Best, Vernajah

  6. Maria 11 months ago

    Dear Gerardo:

    I am proud about your post,” Why join Gangs?,” because i liked how you gave many explanations on why many people join gangs. Me personality i believe that many people join gangs because of threats. But in other words your post can inspire many people to not join a gang because it is not worth it.
    One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “I don’t want people to move to Oakland and just start having negative emotions/thoughts about this city. I know this city can do and be better.” I think that this is inspiring because it is true that many people come out to live in oakland and then they start saying bad things about the place even though they haven’t been there before.
    Another sentence that i noticed was: ” Some may argue that former gang members can’t do anything else with their life or people just join gangs for no reason, but I believe that former gang members CAN do something else with their lives and people do join gangs because of something that’s going on in their lives.” This stood out for me because many people believe when someone joins a gang, they are done with their lives. Many people can do something different in their lives, joining a gang is just an obstacle.
    I don’t fully agree with you that many people joining a gang has a reason why they do it. One reason i say this is because many people just join a gang because they want to, and they do not have a reason why they did it.
    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because i love the topics you chose, and i hope that you can create more posts like this one.

    Best,
    Maria

  7. Amaris 11 months ago

    Dear Gerardo, I am amazed by what you have said in your post “Why join gangs” because it showed that you really had a great understanding of why people join gangs.This might even inspire other people to think deeper about your question. One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is “Some may argue that former gang members can’t do anything else with their life or people just join gangs for no reason, but I believe that former gang members can do something else with their lives and people do join gangs because of something that’s going on in their lives.” This stood out to me because it showed that you can make a change but that’s all on you if you want to make that change. Another sentence that I noticed was “So many students aren’t involved in gangs but they have to live with the violence. They lose friends and loved ones and they survive-and they are resilient.” This stood out for me because it talked about how many students aren’t involved in gans but they still have to live with it because it is all around them. I do fully agree with you because this is a major problem that is happening in Oakland.One reason I say this is because most people grow around gangs and so they might also get in a gang due to watching it all throughout they’re life. Another reason I agree with you is because people are so used to it that they eventually think it’s okay but they need to make a change around their city.Thanks for you writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next. because this was a really strong writing on why people join gangs and that they should make a change.

    Best,
    Amaris

  8. Austin Lai 11 months ago

    Dear Gerardo,

    I have been moved by your post,”Why Join Gangs,” because I never really thought about why people joined gangs. You have showed me a couple reasons why and now I am really interested in the topic.

    One sentence that I noticed was when the bus driver said “Nothing should be done about the gangs because people protect themselves by joining gangs” I think this stood out to me because I always thought gangs were bad and got people into more trouble.

    I also thought that when you said “Some may argue that former gang members can’t do anything else with their life or people just join gangs for no reason, but I believe that former gang members CAN do something else with their lives and people do join gangs because of something that’s going on in their lives.” is true but also false. I believe that people can do things with their life after a gang but they can’t do much because of their reputation of being in a gang.

    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next.

  9. Frances Grout 11 months ago

    Dear Gerado,
    I am moved with your piece, “Why Join Gangs?” because it gives perspective on gang life in Oakland. Not everyone is aware of the incentives that motivate people to join gangs. But you also bring insight onto how to stop this criminal cycle.
    One sentence that stands out to me is “I don’t want people to move into Oakland and just start having negative emotions/thoughts about this city. I know this city can do and be better.” It connects to a part of me. I do not want people to look down on Oakland because of gang violence. It helps show that people judge a city by its crime rate, and whatnot. But in truth, gang life is normal for some people, and part of daily life.
    Another sentence that I found interesting was “I already knew that the quote was stating that people who were afraid of someone that they would join a gang for protection.” I agree, because often you are safer in a gang than being caught in the middle with no one to side with. In a gang, one is offered protection from other gangs, and I really like how you emphasized this. There are motives, such as protection, that draw people into gang life.
    I disagree with the sentence “people who do these types of things are those who are afraid of telling on the person they’re afraid of, not realising that they can tell the police so that they ACTUALLY do something about it.” I think that maybe people willingly do not tell police officers, not because of threats from gang members or fear but because they do not trust police. The police officers are known to be racist towards brown and black people by using excessive force or unjust brutality, and maybe this impacts people’s decisions to ask them for help.
    Thank you for writing. I look forward to reading your next post because I really like the perspective you put on gangs and why people join. It makes other people think about why gang members are really a part of the life they lead.

    Best,
    Frances

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