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Crack In Spanish Harlem

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Category: Miscellaneous

Autor: anton 06 May 2011

Words: 509 | Pages: 3

Crack in Spanish Harlem

Philippe Bourgois

For people that have never had to struggle for a buck, they could never imagine life in the streets. I grew up primarily getting everything I wanted, and obviously everything I needed. Never did I ever once have to ride a city bus, let alone be found anywhere near inner city streets. I use to believe that the people there were "bad," therefore they placed themselves in the street. But after going to school with kids in poverty, and somewhat seeing the streets, I realized that this life is sometimes unavoidable.

Through my ex-boyfriend, I met quite a few people that were dealers, scammers, or who robbed to get by. I was actually quite frightened by them, until I realized that if they did not rob that next car, or sell that next rock, that they would not be able to eat dinner that night. I have never experienced that lifestyle, but I realized that it was a matter of living or not. One of the boys I met was actually born in prison, and then his aunt was given custody of him; she lived in the projects, and he learned to hustle his way to getting what he needed. He tried getting a job making minimum wage, however, one after another he was fired because of not making it on time, having to take care of his baby sister, or because of his criminal record. He did not have many choices, except for getting into dealing. Once he began dealing he was able to drive a high end car, had designer clothes, and lived in a nice suburban townhouse. At that point, how would you expect him to want to stop what he was doing, if he was making more money than he could ever make at minimum wage?

The underground life is like a business. You must make your name, advertise it, and keep it running without problems. There are "bosses", and smaller dealers must obey them in order to make it, and it is quite stratified in itself. There are the big guys that would never be found on the streets; however, they are the source for some smaller guys, which then distribute to their "workers." It takes force to show that you are serious, that you can not be taken advantage of, and that you can be trusted. And sometimes that force might just be killing someone, or at least shooting them.

This is a culture of resistance. By selling drugs, Puerto Ricans are not avoiding work or being lazy. Rather, they are resisting their structural roles as low-paid laborers, choosing to sell crack in order to achieve the wealth promised by the American dream. My question is I wonder if it is correctable. Would raising minimum wage do anything? Would better education in these areas enable the choice for better jobs? It is sad to think that we are going to always have such a large population of people that keep choosing the life of dealing, killing, and robbing.

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