February 14, 2007

Gang Evolution

I just watched an HBO documentary called "Bastards of the Party", which is a history of gangs in L.A., directed and produced by a reformed Blood.

There is so much I want to say about this amazing doc. It's heartbreaking. It's enraging. It's hopeful. But I think, as usual, the film speaks for itself.

But, just so you can have a sense for how deep and unexpected this story is, consider these two points:

1. when they say "Bastards of the Party", the "party" in question is The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. And just what is the connection between the Panthers and the modern-day gangbangers?

One word:


If I may paraphrase Snoop Dogg, if you don't know what COINTELPRO is, you better ask somebody.

2. You want to know the name of the earliest recorded street gang in L.A.? "The Spook Hunters". Those of you who don't have a Black person over the age of 50 in your life on a regular basis may not know that "Spook" used to be a fairly common racial slur for Black people. And, no, the name was not intended to be ironic. The Spook Hunters were a WHITE gang who rode around town looking for uppity negroes to beat-up, harass, and perhaps even kill. So the original street gang in the City of Angels was basically a beautified, L.A. version of the Ku Klux Klan.

If you have HBO, chances are, you have HBO on Demand, which means you can watch this documentary for free anytime you want.

Watch it tonight. It might blow your mind.

Tell someone you love them today

I don't mean send an e-card or buy a box of chocolates.

I mean look someone in the eyes and actually SAY THE WORDS "I love you" to their face.

It's not necessarily about romance. It doesn't have to be a lover or a boyfriend or girlfriend. It could be your child, or good friend or a sibling or a roommate. Don't assume that because they know they don't need to hear it. They probably do know. That's not the point. This is not something you do to inform. It's something you do to declare. To state who you are. To show that I care enough about you that I will actually SAY THE WORDS.

And when you think about how much resistance you have, how uncomfortable it may make you to actually put yourself out there like that to say it, let that feeling remind you of just how important, how powerful, how meaningful it is to actually SAY THE WORDS. We resist doing it because it reveals who we are and makes us vulnerable. But, once you get around all of the armor and boundaries and protections that we put around ourselves, and stand naked (figuratively speaking) before another person, that's the only time that we realize just how truly powerful and invincible we really are.

It's a two-way gift, to both yourself and the object of your affections.

This day only comes around once a year. Take advantage of it.


Happy Valentine's Day.