Monster – story of an LA gang member.
It always feels so good to finish a book. I was never really a reader in high school and college because you are forced to read so many things you don’t want to and so many things that are uninteresting to you. Some of my favorite memories as a child are sitting around a rocking chair with my siblings listening to my Dad read us “Little House on the Praire.”
Since I have started dating my boyfriend, who is an avid reader, I have started to get back into it. I read every single Harry Potter book multiple times and loved how I would become consumed into the story and feel like I was a part of it. I read a couple NIcholas Sparks’ books, but they get redundant.
I was able to read my first Stephen King Novel this summer. “It” was one of the best books I have ever read. He enthralled me with the innocence yet suspense and how he can create such vivid images.
Never watch the movie. It is AWFUL. The book is just something that you can’t put into words. The scary clown doesn’t translate well to film.
I just finished a book called “Monster”, the autobiography of an LA Gang member. It was a great look into a life that I am not very familiar with at all. While I did have some contact with the innercity when I was teaching, the book gives you insite into the thought process.
Growing up in a two parent home with a value of education, I never understood that lifestyle. Everyone wants to be wanted, they want to be a part of something. If you don’t have family or an identity in school or sports, gangs can be very attractive. They give you someone to look up to, someone to aspire to be like. He started getting into the gang on the night of this fifth grade graduation. FIFTH GRADE. I couldn’t even talk bad about a teacher in fifth grade. I barely knew what violence was, let alone being a part of it. Once you are in, that is it. It is your life. You become numb to death, to stealing, to drugs. You don’t know anything else.
It takes an interesting turn when he is in jail and learns about Islam and Malcolm X. The pastor gets into his head. He talks about oppression, racism, and what you can do about
it. Gangs have it wrong. Black people are being opressed against and yet are killing other black people. This is letting the enemy “win”. It is a really interesting topic.
It becomes a cycle. Teaching in the city you see so many babies having babies. Many families place no value or respect on education, authority, or earning a living. Therefore many people make money with drugs and welfare. The generations never learn how to get out of it, mostly because there does not seem to be need. Many of my students were on welfare but didn’t not consider themselves poor. We had quite a debate on this. That is another post. Why get a job when you can sit at home and collect a check? Unfortunately, you can make more money on welfare than getting a minimum wage job. There are more benefits to doing nothing that trying to become something.
I want to leave with my favorite paragraph from the book. It doesn’t give anything away, it just is a great way of explaining the issues of gangbanging.
“I had faced the realization of who would ultimately be betrayed if I did not stop, which put banging in its proper perspective. While it did and still does supply wayward youth with an idea of collective being and responsibility, in the end it wrecks the lives of its participants and the innocents who live anywhere near the “silo”, or base of operations. It is unfortunately, the extreme expression of hopelessness in New Afrikan communities: misdirected rage in the form of retarded resistance.”
Monster- Sanyika Shakur
It was a very interesting and thought provoking read, especially since I worked with at risk youth for three years. It took him a long time for him to realize that he was in the wrong and change his ways. Not many of the people he started with had the chance to get that far.