Friday, June 05, 2009

Were Religions the Gangs of Old?

As I exited the Q train this evening after a not so long days work I saw a young man with a blue rag under his NY fitted hat. This of course served as a reminder that yes there are people in NYC that claim the California based gang Crip. While I know people who are affiliated with both Bloods and Crips on the east coast and the west coast, I've always had trouble taking the east coast incarnation seriously. My main gripe has always been most of the young men who claim Blood or claim Crip have never even been to California. Some have gone to dressing up like people in California and appropriating their slang to seem more authentic. However they live in NYC. They have dreadlocks in their hair (which is RARE in Cali). They live up the block from rival gang members and on occasion wear the "enemy's" colors. These are things that just don't happen in California.

One main difference is California is spread out as far as land is concerned. You have to drive everywhere. So where as a neighborhood in San Diego can have a heavy blood presence and likely little to no Crips around, NY is different. NYC is too compact and you can't help but be around the rival gang. There is hardly any space to co-exist without constant clashing. Thus the two gangs must learn to live with one another.

Which brings me to the title of this piece. What about religious folks? Can I be a true Muslim without ever visiting Mecca? Can I truly know the word of God to be as it is told to me without ever visiting Jerusalem? The same way the bible speaks of Galilee, Blood gangs are named after Piru St. and the like. How can I claim a gang named after a place I've never seen. In Islam one learns of the story of Mohammad traveling from Mecca to Medina. While these stories can be valuable to ones life is it real if you've never seen these places to truly exist? They can be researched academically however this is a life decision. Can such a life decision be based on a mere story?

Then there's the built in religious conflict. There are Muslim people in the world who plain do not like Jews just because of what they "stand for". There are also Christians who don't like Jews for what they "stand for". (Man people really don't like Jewish people.) The same way that Bloods and Crips have long standing views regarding one another religions can be the same. There have been holy wars fought in the name of each nation's religion. People have been percecuted for not being down with the dominate program of the day. To be a Christian in the early times among a Hebrew population, you might have a hard life just trying to be who you are. Try being a crip living in the Jungle out in L.A. Let me know how that works out for you.

I suppose if you look at religious text as allegory then it works. The way that all stories have a meaning and message that you can extract the same can be said for ones way of worship. However if there is a literal take, I would think proper study and rumination is necessary for making such a decision. All of this can be put to the side when the trump card of faith is played. Once you put faith on the table all bets are off. At this point rational thought is placed secondary to feelings and gut reactions. If I wear this red rag and claim blood and do what I think bloods do then why shouldn't I be considered a true Blood, right? I believe in the codes followed by people Iv'e never met started years ago because when I apply them in this day and time I like the feeling associated with the end results. I guess in the end most go with what the feel and rationalize the rest.

You take what you want, and leave the rest. Just like a salad bar. (c) Egg Shen.

1 comment:

  1. Erich Fromm says that the most often overlooked of the basic human drives [ie,
    Sex/romance, Acquisition/saving, Bonding/connecting, etc] is the drive for identity. Establishing or adopting an identity is a big part of life. I see that as a common thread between gang or religious affiliation.