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Stop the Violence

Gang Life:
A personal Odyssey
Author: Anonymous

I am no better than you—I too once believed that gangs 
were the way.
The way to friends and family. From some battered and 
demented point of view, it seemed like a good way to 
go, an easy path to follow. I know what it’s like to 
be or feel alone. You see these gangs/groups of people 
and they never seem alone. Well, they’re more alone 
than you can ever know.
Not too long ago, I was living life day-to-day, always 
looking over my shoulder, never knowing who can and 
can’t be trusted, knowing that if I gave my trust too 
easily, I may be betrayed.
Crews, cliques, and gangs are a part of everyday life 
in Watsonville; they shape and mold the future of many 
young teens’ lives. For some it’s a matter of respect, 
honor and power; for the others, they just want to be 
able to know they’re a part of something bigger than 
For me, it was a matter of respect; though I am more 
book smart than street smart, I know that on the 
streets respect means fear. The more you’re feared the 
more respect you obtain. Mostly, I was feared because 
of who I knew and because of the things people knew 
my “accomplices” were capable of. In a way, I liked 
hanging out with the thugs, because I felt secure 
inside. My family doesn’t know that I not only hung 
out with, but also dated, guys who were older and 
involved with gangs, shootings and drug dealing. I was 
never ashamed of the person, just their actions. 
You probably couldn’t begin to fathom how hard and 
painful it is to love someone who can so easily hurt 
others, or make a decision about a stranger’s life: a 
decision as to when a person should die or be 
punished. I’ve had boyfriends who have made these 
decisions. If you really take the time to think about 
it, you’ll see it doesn’t make any sense at all: 
Mexicans fighting Mexicans, and killing each other 
when they should unite and enjoy their many splendors.
Goin’ In
The gang life is a long road to lead and in most cases 
members are “jumped in,” unless they have a history of 
family members being affiliated, then they can 
be “walked in.” Either one is extremely serious, and a 
huge deal. If you are being jumped in, you have to be 
able to take the hits and blows of all the male or 
female members before you. For some that’s a tough 
obstacle to overcome, but if you just lay back and 
take it in, it demonstrates that you’re “down.” Down 
for your gang, your color and your new “family.”
Technically, there is no ritual for being walked in. 
You don’t get jumped, you get right into the mix. You 
can immediately join in the parties, kickbacks and 
rumbles. Of course, if you’re walked in you have a lot 
more to prove. You have family members who were 
previously/currently affiliated that you need to 
honor. By honor, I mean you have more work to do for 
your ‘hood to earn your stripes, and show up the 
family members that went before you. Gang members 
expect more from you because of your family line. 
Remember, once you’re “in” there never really is 
an “out.”
Kicked Out
Before getting expelled back in October 2003 (my 
sophomore year), I never believed it could happen to 
me; guess what, it did! I have no one to blame but 
myself. To put my bad choices and poor judgments on 
others would be the coward’s way out.
Toward the beginning of September, when I was still 
14, I began hanging out with a new crowd. First, it 
started off with cutting a class or two and just 
hanging out. It soon became an everyday thing. 
Eventually we started leaving school with some male 
friends of the other girls–just hanging out at first. 
Then we started drinking, and as if it were some sort 
of quilted pattern, that became our everyday thing. 
I’m not proud to admit it, but after a few weeks it 
became the whole day, not just a few classes here and 
there. Through all this, the girls and I were becoming 
closer, watching out for each other. We had to, 
because it got to the point where if you were alone, 
rival gang members would follow us to our classes, 
after school and even chase some of us home, just 
trying to scare us. We were never alone because of 
that; we always had our group, even on weekends. 
Thanks to our big mouths, there were a lot of fights 
and bad situations. The biggest one took place at Jack 
in the Box between me and another girl. There was 
blood, torn clothes and missing shoes. But we didn’t 
get in trouble, or even caught. I look back and wonder 
if I would have kicked that girl’s ass over a ‘color’ 
and a few exchanged words if I had been with different 
people, or had not been under the influence of 
Within less than a month, I went from heavily drinking 
to taking drugs and downing pills. Not just any pills, 
they’re special, similar to taking heroin. Your body 
goes completely numb, your brain relaxes, mouth is 
dry, don’t eat, can’t eat, can’t exactly do anything, 
and just constantly feel like you’re floating.
It was hard to leave the group, and I guess I was 
scared because I had turned my back on my family and 
old friends. Things were getting bad, and several 
people began packing weapons. On the 7th of October 
there was supposed to be a rumble after school, so we 
all decided to cut 5th period. At that time a “friend” 
came to me a little bewildered, and asked if I could 
hold something for him. I said yes. All of us 
returning back to class 6th period got stopped in the 
hall and were taken to the office to be searched. I 
cooperated with everything and they found the knife, 
so the expulsion process began. Though I got expelled, 
I broke free from the shackles that bounded me to 
those people.
You Set the Scene
Picture things being the way they used to be, when 
things were good–when I was good. Picture me getting 
A’s and B’s in the Video Academy at Watsonville High. 
Picture me playing so many sports you can’t keep up. 
Picture me graduating, and being successful. Picture 
me dropping out, becoming a statistic. Picture me 
being so lazy, my only exercise is clicking the 
remote. Now, picture me failing–amounting to nothing–
no aspirations, not caring about losing sight of all 
dreams and goals.
Gangs and drugs alter things; this is what they do to 
a good kid. It may be your kid, someone you know, or 
even you. It may be hard to admit, but listen 
attentively to my story: You don’t want to go through 
that before you realize the errors of your mistakes. A 
mistake does not become an error, unless you fail to 
correct it. Now tell me–can you picture that?