Deception and Destruction
On Tuesday, I attended the Gang Violence Panel, hosted by the ALANA Organization on campus. The Panel discussion provided a tremendous opportunity to learn about an issue which plagues areas in Baltimore and throughout North and South America. At the Gang Violence Event, which I attended this week, the panel talked about their personal experiences when they had to deal with family members participating in gangs and gangs infiltrating their schools, and subsequently disrupting their learning environment. Gangs are not only an issue in Baltimore but they are also an issue nationwide, afflicting low income and impoverished communities from coast-to-coast.
One of the main problems which law enforcement faces when they try to cut down on gang violence in an area, is that gangs are able to exert pressure on countless children, compelling them to join the gang. Throughout schools, gangs use “mob mentality” to get young people to become members and as a result police cannot prevent students from following their friends into gangs. The gang leaders use a sort of modernized propaganda and coercion to deceive and lure people into their gang. Gangs practice of using threats and violence to recruit new members is well documented, however what gangs also promise is “immunity.” “Immunity” is when a gang provides protection to a person in case they feel threatened. If that person is threated the gang will send someone to hurt or scare the causing threat. This is merely one of the ways gangs use promises and incentives to get children to join. It is a misconception that all gangs do is threaten individuals; gangs are complex organization which use multiple persuasive techniques to recruit members. It is the gang’s initial deception which baits outsiders into joining the gang and putting their life on the path toward inevitable destruction.
In Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Cast of Amontillado,” Montresor uses his cunning and wit to mislead Fortunato and motivate him to travel deep into the catacombs to taste the Amontillado. Just like gangs use propaganda and trickery on their prospects, Montresor uses those same tactics on his adversary. This is not to say that Montresor is himself a gang, because obviously he is just one individual, but Montresor does use many similar strategies to modern day gangs. It is deception, lies and false promises which seem to lead others onto the path of poor choices and personal destruction. Just as Fortunato does see his demise until it is too late, neither do young gang members who will eventually find themselves in jail or even worse in a grave.
I walk away from the event on gang violence, as well as this short story, saddened and concerned. Gang Violence disproportionately affects low income areas in the United States. Because adolescents in struggling economic situations tend to attend substandard schools, gangs use schools as an approach to recruiting children. Out of my own ignorance I consider schools to be a safe zone for kids to grow up and learn, however sadly for many this is not the case. Education should be a way for poor children to succeed and escape their socio-economic class, however in impoverished gang ridden areas students who go to school and fall into the deception of organized crime, school is merely perpetuating their poverty. I hope and pray that the people of this great nation will be able to come together and solve this problem which plagues so many underprivileged youths. If we can do that American may truly become a nation of hope and promise for future generations.