UPRISING: Crips and Bloods Tell the Story of America's Youth in the Crossfire by Yusuf & Sister Shah'Keyah Jah

UPRISING: Crips and Bloods Tell the Story of America's Youth in the Crossfire

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Good intentions pave the way to the usual place in this unpleasant collection of fawning interviews with ex--Los Angeles gang members. There is an art to good interviewing, and husband-and-wife team Jah and Shah'Keyah (Nation Conscious Rap, not reviewed) simply don't possess it. Like high school newspaper cub reporters, they lob merciless softball questions at their subjects: ""What are some positive things that you are now doing in the community?"" or ""Speak on the potential impact of brothers from all over getting with the brotherhood."" And while they allow the gangstaz to ramble on at great length, Jah and Shah'Keyah manage to elicit little of real substance from them beyond an assortment of platitudes about the need for peace and love and black solidarity. These sentiments, somehow, are not convincing. Few of these ex-gangsters seem particularly penitent about their numerous crimes, preferring instead to cast themselves as sorely put-upon victims. A ceaseless racist sputter is allowed to pass unremarked, much of it infected by the ""white devils"" teachings of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. In the hands of more skilled interviewers, a fascinating book could have been written from the lives of these men. They have, after all, managed to survive one of the deadliest fratricidal conflicts this side of the Balkans, a through-the-looking-glass world where walking in the wrong neighborhood can mean an instant death sentence, where those who make it past 21 are considered old men. Now, in the wake of the 1992 LA riots, there is an uneasy truce among the various gangs, and the killing--though it hasn't stopped--has abated. A great deal of this book is addressed to maintaining this shaky peace and building upon it. But hatred, inanity, and incompetence help no one.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Scribner