Understanding Gang Life: Why youths embrace trouble

ruben vazquezToday has been an interesting day for me. I hope this day has found you well, resting and enjoying your time off (hopefully). At times like this I find it a great idea to pick up a good book. A book that will cater to my need for mental stimulation and yet, educate me to something new. One such book today is A Rainbow of Gangs by James Diego Vigil. This book is beyond a simple sociological evaluation of gang-life. It is a personal account of various cultures and barriers in the lives of our youth. Although the book is a bit dated (published in 2002), the facts remain the same. We have a youth culture that is in dire need of love, affection, direction, self-worth, respect, a family, stability, hope, and a future. Without these things, many of our kids lose their lives literally or figuratively. Either way, it is bad and should not happen! Why have we failed at helping our youth find purpose in this life? The number one answer that comes to mind for me is that no one cares. When there are very little people who care about the lives of needy youths, they fall prey to a multiplicity of problems within and outside their homes, schools, and neighborhoods.

I am of the firm belief that knowledge is more than power. It embodies compassion. Our kids need our understanding, our listening ear, our ability to relate to them. There is a very touching story of a young man nicknamed “Puppet” in chapter 4. Not only was this young man the victim of his parent’s problems, but also of his adolescent years. With various foster care parents/families or homes, schools, and experiences with bullying and negative peer influences, Puppet struggled to find his identity. He ended up joining a gang out of a need to find his identity, meaning, hope, and protection. His only tool left was a gang. Our kids should never have to turn to the most destructive tool to “survive” their lives.

If you decide to check this book out, allow this book to call you to action, to call you to show compassion.

Passionately speaking,


Photo credit: ruben vazquez