Today’s Streets Lack Respect

Anyone Can Be A Cholo
The rules of the streets have changed a lot over the years. I don’t know much about other gangs, but I know about this one particular gang. They used to be all about respect and they learn the rules every time they get jumped in. But people haven’t been following the rules because some of them think it’s cooler not to care anymore.

People in this gang have the rules of no drive-bys, no hitting up people when you’re with your girlfriend, no dating underage girls, and the number one rule was respect. Now gang bangers don’t seem to care and anyone can say they’re a gangster by wanting to be. Back then, people would get written by the main heads, but now, anyone can be a cholo.
-Maria, 15


Old Guys Vs. Young Kids
As a kid, I grew up in a violent neighborhood where it seemed like there was a drive-by everyday. I almost got shot up myself. It was nighttime. I had just gotten home from visiting some relatives. As soon as I stepped out of the car, another car came by and started shooting. No one else was there except my brother, my mom, my dad and me. I assume the target was us but luckily no one got hurt.

The rules of the streets have changed a lot. It doesn’t seem like it’s about honor, color or respect anymore. I don’t know much but I see and hear stories, likes stories about 20 or 30 year old OGs beating up kids. One of my friends was beaten up for knowing a gangster. It’s weird how the rules and principles have changed. It used to be gangs versus gangs but it seems like these days they do whatever they want. They beat up or kill people over a bad exchange of words, bumping into one another, or talking to someone’s girlfriend. Knowing someone in a gang can get a person shot.

I remember one time when I was hanging out with my friends and their friends. Some random guys in football jerseys came up to us and asked if we were in a certain gang. We said “no” but they wouldn’t listen. One guy looked like he had a gun and he just wouldn’t stop bothering us. I guess he thought he was all tough. They kept talking smack. After a while, one of my friends said he knew the guy’s brother and then it was cool. That finally got them to leave.

Later on, I found out that the person they were looking for really was with us. I stopped hanging out with them after that. That was a bad situation to be in, especially since I had my girlfriend there too. Gangs today are doing things that are just not what the old gangsters would have done. The biggest change I see now is that they beat up kids.
-Yee Leng, 17


“Hood Hopper”
I remember when I was younger, we used to live on this street and my older sisters and I were able to go outside and walk to the store when it was getting dark. But now we can’t do that because of the fear of getting shot. Also I remember when I was around thirteen years old, and I used to date this boy. I was able to get on the bus and go by myself to his house but now I either can’t go or I have to catch a ride.

Nowadays gangs are made up of colors, styles, numbers, letters or simply words. I remember one time I wore blue and red at the same time and people called me the Pepsi bottle and that I was a “hood hopper”. If you ask me I think everyone should just get along and grow up. It’s already hard enough we have to fight for rights and government funds. Let’s not fight over the streets we walk on or the neighborhoods we live in.
-Meme, 16


Crime Near Schools
I’ve never known much about gangs or the “streets.” In general, I’ve lived a very sheltered life. Within the past five years, I haven’t seen much change. In my neighborhood, people still creep around in the night, scribbling nonsense and graffiti on the back of my apartment. It’s such an eyesore, trees and flowers surrounding words I can never decipher.

Maybe tagging could really be the reason, but crime has gone up in my neighborhood it seems. Within the past year alone, there have been at least three shootings and a stabbing. I live on street between two elementary schools, and I always thought the schools would make me feel safe but I guess not.
-Jaleesa, 20


No Respect
Yes the rules of the streets have changed since I’ve grown up. It seems like it lacks respect nowadays. It went from color trippin’ (which is fighting over the color you represent) to set trippin’ (which is fighting over what street you’re from). Also, different gangs are forming and teaming up and forming bigger gangs. That is something I’ve never seen before.
-Kevis, 19


Don’t Take Hits
When I was growing up, my brother would say I was book smart, not street smart. My brothers were all in gangs. When I was younger, I did not understand why my brother would tell me I couldn’t say certain words. He showed me the hand signs and told me I wasn’t allowed to do them. He showed me the handshakes and again said never to do them. He taught me to not let anyone hit me and he said, “don’t take hits, hit back.”
-Arena, 18


On The Streets
When I was younger, I saw many teenagers wearing certain colors in certain places. I didn’t know why they were wearing those colors or why they were there. All I knew was that they were bad people. Today, sometimes, I see like six to eight gang members walking together to have each other’s backs. It seems like gangs these days just fight whoever they see on the streets.

For example, if you’re walking on the street alone with any electronics, doesn’t matter what gang it is, they will beat you down until they get what they want. Also, if you’re not a gang member, but you know or hang out with a gang, and the other gang finds out, they will come after you too if they see you on the streets. Back then, it felt different and none of this happened as much.
-Luis, 17


Changed, But Still The Same
Growing up I’ve always tried to ignore the problems on the streets. I can say though that from what I’ve seen, some of the rules have changed and some haven’t. Like for example, one of my best friends told me that she was in two different gangs. She said that the rule to get into the gang has changed. With most gangs, like one of the gangs she belonged to, she got jumped in. But in the other gang, she had to roll a dice and whatever number showed up, that’s how many of the gang members she had to sleep with first.

I thought getting jumped in was the way to get into a gang, but I guess over the years, that has changed, especially for women. I have also watched and noticed that no matter what gang a person is from, they all have some rules or morals that are the same. So I think some rules have changed, but other rules have are still in tact and strong.
-Chanda, 20

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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