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Organized Crime In The Us Essay

2984 words - 12 pages

Vampires, Dragons, and Egyptian Kings ?Vampires, Dragons, and Egyptian Kings? is a look into the postwar gang situation of New York City through the eyes of author Eric C. Schneider. This book deals with the many aspects that gang members and society dealt with on a daily basis. A brief overview of this work shows that gang affiliation is something that was taken very seriously in the 1940?s and 50?s. Schneider delves deep into the daily functions and rituals that gang members go through to prove manhood and loyalty. One can see the atmosphere that individuals face when becoming, or continuing affiliation with gangs during this period in history.Within the first chapter, we are shown the ...view middle of the document...

The third chapter points out the role of race in the 1940?s and of how gangs were discovered by those in power in New York. Review of this portion shows how WWII and the emergence of the social scene for young men lead them to affiliate with gangs. Race riots were abound during this time period, and the general thoughts of the youths were ones of disdain for those not of the same color. World War II seems to spark the increase of more violent weapons being introduced into the structure of the gangs. Young men home from the war brought souvenirs home with them from the battlefield that fell into the gang members hands. With these new weapons, an increase in the homicide rate of young men in the New York area rose dramatically. ?In 1945 and 1946, the homicide rate for adolescents was more than double what it had been in the early 1940?s, as the introduction of weapons and military tactics took their toll? (Schneider 75).Ethnicity as a role in the everyday lives of the gang members was a major part of what stirred up most of the conflicts that occurred. Rival cultures, or more precisely, rival attitudes of ?turf? seemed to be to most overwhelming reason as to why gang fights occurred. Communities that were once strictly race centered were seeing an influx in ?outsiders?, or those that were not of the same race as they were. These new cultures set off the racial explosion that dominated most of this period. With these cultures came the inevitable outpouring of hostility that youth gangs have been known for. To defend turf from other racially different gangs, youths would resort to fighting or other means to keep what they thought was theirs. Most of the rest of this chapter deals with how territorial lines were crossed, and how the resulting violence formed the gang areas that were considered ?owned? by one ethnic group or another.The use of the gang as a tool to define masculinity is a subject that is taken into consideration by Schneider. ?Evidence about gangs and masculinity can be drawn from autobiographies, oral histories, conversations recorded in gang workers? field notes, comments by gang members in studies by social workers, journalists, and academics, and my own interviews with former gang members? (Schneider 106). The use of the gang setting for a young boy to define his manhood is the overall ideology of this chapter of the book. Boys would fight, steal, or do whatever it took become a member of the gang in question. To become a member of a gang was to prove how masculine you were. Characteristics that kept you at the level were how you conducted yourself, i.e. if you stood and fought, or ran away in the face of danger, etc. Schools were seen as a place that the gang member associated himself with very little. Those that attended school were thought of as being ?soft?, or not being able to handle the rigors of the street. The role of the family in the gang members? life was seen as having very little impact, unless it was to point out...

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