What Up Blood: Last Encounter (Hopefully!)

I decided not to write about other minor uneventful incidents which have occurred involving the gang culture. These events consisted of “ice grills” from gang members with facial tattoos and such trivial chance meetings; I don’t feel the need to waste anyone’s time with these tales. This last encounter will hopefully be my last post on the subject, until I ultimately achieve my life’s goal of ending gang violence in the city of Los Angeles. I don’t know why I was chosen to be the savior, but I was so I will fulfill my duty.
In the previous post, I mentioned how it didn’t make any sense for red to be the only banned color, but I eventually gained an understanding as to why. Blue represents the infamous Crips gang. Yet, blue is a universal color and tends to blend in. Most people wear blue on a regular basis, so it would be tedious to police the color. (By policing the color, I mean harassing anyone who wears it! I’m just speaking the truth. I’m not a gang member, but I have had several run-ins with Los Angeles’ least finest, and I must say that I am not a fan. NWA has a song called Fuck Tha Police…I don’t know why I mentioned that!) Crip members wear a blue flag to show their allegiance to their gang. They may also wear blue laces to be identifiable.
Red on the other hand is a color that stands out, which makes wearing red more of a statement. The more important reason for the ban on red is the fact that the Bloods are vastly outnumbered in the city of Los Angeles. If not for Crip on Crip violence, the Bloods would have a tough time surviving in the city. People who wear red are placing their safety on the line.
Usually, I am traveling by myself or with a woman, so I think gang members tend to give me a pass. This is just a hypothesis, since I don’t know for certain why I haven’t been in more incidents. I may just be lucky.
One day, my cousin came down from the valley to hang out for the afternoon. We decided to go get some Popeye’s for lunch. (We all know that white people eat chicken too, let’s not play that game.) I had on a gray Red Sox hat and red sneakers. My cousin had a traditional Red Sox hat and some black Jordans with red laces. (They really shouldn’t sell sneakers with red laces in Los Angeles, but who am I to make such an intelligent suggestion.)
I pulled into a parking space and we stepped out of the car. I heard someone yelling from across the parking lot, but I paid him no mind, because people are always yelling. We started to walk towards the entrance and the yelling became a bit louder and seemed to be directed towards us. I turned around and saw a guy standing by a car yelling at the two of us. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, so I stopped and attempted to make out his words. There was a girl sitting in her car directly in front of me so I assumed he was attempting to get her attention, so I pointed towards her, as if to say, “are you talking to her?” He pointed at me and yelled what I thought was, “bird gang,” but I really had no idea what he was saying. I gestured with both hands up in the air to let him know that I couldn’t understand him. He yelled again, and I was certain he said “bird gang.”
I was confused because the only Bird I know, other than Larry, is Birdman so I assumed this guy was putting some respek on his name. He completely misunderstood my sign language and thought I was saying, “what up blood…I’m with it…let’s do this.” (I was saying no such thing.)
I started walking towards him and as I got closer, he started walking in my direction with the clear intention of fighting. That’s when I heard him say, “dirt gang.” (I later found out that I was in the territory of the Rolling 30s Harlem Crips, aka Dirt Gang.) Looking back on the incident, I can understand his level of aggression, because it may have appeared to him that I was a Blood, and clearly trespassing in his neighborhood; the Popeye’s is in a Crip area. He assumed that I was making some grand statement that I can go wherever I pleased and anyone who had a problem with it, can deal with my wrath. (I was not making any such statement!)
Once I understood what was happening, I stopped and said, “I’m not here for that…I’m not a Blood.” He then wondered, “why do you have on all that red?” It was a legitimate question. To which I replied, “I’m from Boston.” His energy changed, and he responded, “my bad…you should be careful with all that red, cuz.” Then he backed off and went to his car. The situation was diffused, but if he was a little younger and had a little less sense, there would have been a squabble in that parking lot. The incident would have clearly changed my life, I would have joined the Bloods and taken out revenge on the entire Crip nation. (Just kidding!)
The Gang culture is definitely the real deal in Los Angeles. The entre time, the man’s friend remained by the car with the door open. I’m not sure why he didn’t attack along with his friend, but I can only assume that he had a gun in his possession and was prepared to use it if need be. I still wear red from time to time, but I am always prepared to deal with some type of nonsense when I choose to do so. (The fact that I live in a Blood neighborhood, probably keeps me a bit safer when doing so, but one can never be too careful.)

Honestly, I think I’ve experienced enough gang banging for a life time. I would write about the shooting incident, but I don’t want to make it seem as if South Central is more violent than it really is. There are many great events, such as the Taste of Soul, in which Crenshaw Blvd is shut down for many blocks and people from all over the city enjoy different forms of entertainment including concerts. (Last year, the rapper Doug E. Fresh brought out special guest Brandy and they performed a live concert.) There are also many vendors selling all types of goodies. The food is amazing and I was able to purchase a novel, written by a local artist. There are many gang members present, but they are able to leave the violence at home and have a good time.

taste_of_soul

I often hear people say things like, “the Bloods and Crips are dumb…why would they kill someone for wearing a color.” That is a very uninformed way to look at the culture. The gang members are mortal enemies and blood has been shed on both sides. The colors are just the way of identifying which gang one belongs to. They are simply attacking the enemy…it’s a lot more complicated than just colors.

@Peteteix617

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What Up Blood: 1st Encounter

When I first moved to South Central, I was aware of the gang violence but I didn’t fully understand the culture. I did have knowledge about the bloods and the crips, but there was a lot that I didn’t know. Thankfully, we live in the information age and I was able to do a lot of research; partly because I was interested in learning more about the culture, but more importantly was the necessity to stay safe.

Initially, I was told not to wear red – I didn’t heed the warning because I thought it was silly. (My stubbornness also played a large role in my decision.) Honestly, the advice didn’t make any sense. Why would I not be allowed to wear red, but blue was not off limits? Further more, I wasn’t involved in any of the gang activities so I didn’t see the need to stop wearing red. Plus, I have a lot of red sox hats and t-shirts, so I didn’t feel like not wearing red. Following this advice would have been a huge inconvenience to me.

I lived in South Central for several weeks and wore whatever I felt like wearing. I have a pair of red Adidas which I wear regularly, and many Red Sox hats, which have a lot of red. Thankfully, I was able to befriend some guys who grew up in the area, and the consensus was that I could wear whatever I wanted and I should be fine. They’re main concern was whether or not I would be riding the bus, which I learned was a hotbed for gang violence. I have a vehicle, so the bus was not an issue. Also, I was told to be careful around teenagers, because they would be more likely to be violent due to their need of proving themselves and building up their reputations in the streets.

One day, I wanted some fried fish and I found a place on Crenshaw, which was only a few blocks away. I drove to the fish spot and walked in wearing a blue Red Sox t-shirt with a large red B on it, my red Adidas, and a blue Sox cap with a red B on the front. Inside, there was a lady receiving her order and two young men in their early twenties waiting on their food. Once the lady left, I stepped to the counter and placed my order.

I stood against the wall awaiting my food. (I didn’t say what I ordered because I don’t remember, but it was probably some fried catfish, which is way better than the ones online that ruin the lives of their victims.) The two men kept staring at me and talking low enough for me not to be able to hear. Their interest in me was apparent (Not in that way…not that there is anything wrong with that.) and the tension was building. Unfortunately, I don’t own a gun, so I was at a huge disadvantage. Suddenly, the cook came from the kitchen, looked at me and said, “I like your hat.” I thanked him and he continued. “Seriously, I like that hat…I am from Boston.” He said proudly.

I let him know that I was from Roxbury and learned that he was from Dorchester. Once I revealed that I was from out of town, the tension ended and one of the guys said, “I figured you weren’t from here after I heard you talking…you should be careful wearing all that red around this hood.” It turned out that I was in the territory of the Rolling 60 Crips (shout out to Nipsey Hussle! Get Victory lap and you won’t be disappointed.), where bloods were unwelcomed, and at the moment I looked like a blood.

The cook made it known that any time I went to the shop, I should always wear my “B” hat. The guys were interested in learning more about Boston, so I answered all of their questions. After a few minutes, they received their food and started to leave. One guy stopped at the door, threw up a “W” with his fingers and said, “west side!” I laughed and he left.

Thankfully, my first encounter with gang members in their gang territory went well. While living in the valley, I ran into the rapper August Blue, who is really cool and talented, on several occasions. Interestingly, he is from the Eight Trey Gangster Crips (They don’t get along with the 60s) and in a wheelchair due to being shot. You may have heard of the Gansters from Monster Cody, who wrote the book Monster, about his life as a member of the Eight Trey Gangster Crips. (A very good read.) The fact that I survived this encounter without any incident strengthened my initial assumption that the color thing was a little overblown; I continued wearing anything I wanted.

So far, I have had a few more experiences, and I will write about them soon. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the sun and following the snowy East Coast from a distance!Thanks for reading!

@peteteix617