A startling series of testimonies about urban violence from New York City teens. These first-person essays on sociological issues first appeared in New Youth Connection, a newspaper for and by students of New York City high schools. By choosing the best essays on the theme of violence, the editors have compiled a book more eloquent than a thousand police reports. For the writers live in housing projects; they know violence all too well. So why do kids kill each other? In their own words, "Kids nowadays are ready to kill . . . over the dumbest things." You'll hear talk of trafficking in gold chains—one young man is stabbed for a good fake. Yet the cause of violence is rarely just material. Instead, it erupts when one gets —dissed— (disrespected) too often in a life where to hold onto a shred of dignity is rare. To their credit, two of the teenage boys here write about why they will not pack a pistol: because they've seen innocent loved ones get killed, and because it gives the owner a dangerously distorted sense of power. While all the killing seems to involve young men who treat life "like a reset button in a video game," some of the most abused victims are the young women in their lives—or, in one case, a homosexual young man who cannot take part in their bad-mustached, bad-mouthed behavior. Among the women, one Chinese girl, not dressed provocatively enough to earn the usual stream of catcalls from the corner full of unemployed truants, is angry enough to say, after a bottle is thrown at her, that it's as though a female in the city "has a bullseye on her body." Unheard voices crying for a hearing.
Read full book review >