Who you ridin’ with?

Edited picture of members of the gang Gangster Disciples.

Edited picture of members of the gang Gangster Disciples.

While gangs used to be seen as a separate support group and community, violence caused by gang-banging has now put gang affiliation in a negative light, especially in urban areas.

The image above shows a group of about 35 men walking down a street. The street is vacant with two houses parallel to one another. The grass in front of the houses is slightly green, but mostly brown. There is a railroad track sign that is lined up with light poles. Each light pole has a box attached to it with wires, connecting each pole.

The men are African-American, and dressed in all black. The outfits worn in the image consist of a black shirt, black pants, black bandana and/or black hat. A few of the men have on regular blue jeans with their black shirts. Two men have on jacket/jean combos with their black shirts. The man wearing the beige denim outfit is walking a few steps in the front of the group of men. None of the men have on the same pair of shoes. The shoe colors include white, red, brown, and black all with different lacing and detailing. Some men have on dog tags, however, it hard to determine whether or not those are directly related to the group. This image was edited to include the words ‘GD,’ at the top, and ‘7-4 TIL THE WORLD BLOW!,’ at the bottom. The selected font is gothic script-based and is all black.

The concept of a “gang” can be internationally documented back to the early 1600s, including gangs of robbers in areas like England. However, gang affiliation did not become prominent in the United States until the mid 1700s. Like most would assume, the emergence of gangs first began in New York City. What began then is still valid today: although gangs themselves were not integrated, there was, and still is, gang involvement from all races and ethnicities.

In Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle the main character Gunnar Kaufman is immediately questioned about his gang affiliation. In response he represented a made up gang. Had he said the wrong thing there would have been a problem. “Beef” (problems) did not exist during the early development of gangs in the United States. In fact, during that time there was no negative connotation associated with them. The majority of the people who were gang affiliated were employed and educated. The men to started gangs were looking for a structured “support group” from other men.

When gangs began to form in poverty-stricken areas, “beef” developed between, splitting up the neighborhoods of a city by streets/corners that were claimed by different gangs. Problems that would arise between gangs typically resulted in violence, which is why the dangerous reputation of gangs emerged. If you are part of a gang you must to “rep” your gang and rep it hard, similar to how the men in the image above do. They all have on black and the words ‘GD’ (Gangster Disciples) ‘7-4 TIL THE WORLD BLOW!.’ shows them representing.

The overall structure of gangs was once highlighted as a way for men to better themselves and support one another. However, now gangs are looked down upon and seen as groups of people who go to extreme measures for who they’re “ridin’ with.”

Image Source: Gangster Disciples . N.d..,World of Darkness Wiki. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.

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