Always Running is an autobiography book written by Luis J Rodriguez. It was written in the year 1993 and the Mexican-American tells of the gang days in Los Angeles. In his book, He recounts the days he spent as a gang member in L.A to be specific in the city's eastern suburbs and East Los Angeles. The first hardcover edition was released in 1993 in the United States and it has 251 pages. This essay gives the intercultural analysis of the book "Always Running" by Luis J. Rodriguez and gives the lessons learned from the book.
The preface explains why Luis decided to write this book. He simply tries to discourage his son from getting involved in any gang (Rodriguez, 2005). He also wants to educate other people who may be struggling with the same problems he had in the 19960s. One of the ways that Luis tries to discourage his son from joining a gang is by telling him that he should choose to live at home. This does not work since Ramiro does not grow in his father's house. Gang violence is among the history of Los Angeles, which is one of the biggest with a lot of cultural diversities city of the United States. Not only being harsh in his assessment of gangs, but he is also sympathetic and he gives clear reasons why people are driven to living a crime life.
Since Ramiro is struggling with psychological problems which have left him very frightened and unstable, he decides to join a gang lifestyle. According to Luis and many other people, gang membership presents a way of keeping anxiety and fear at bay. One of Luis' inspiration is a Rodney King beating where Los Angeles police were recorded in a video brutally beating a black man. The story gives Luis' belief that exploited and working-class people have to work together and fight injustice. He provides a nuanced view of crime by depicting members of different gangs as victims of fear and poverty and not vile criminals.
Luis's childhood life has a lot of changes (Rodriguez, 2005). For instance, his family moves to Los Angeles from Mexico and they keep arguing if they should go back or stay. His father, Alfonso does not move with his family to the United States because he thinks it is a land of opportunity but he is fleeing the danger and the corruption of his native place Juarez. Luis' mother, Maria complies with Alfonso even though she has some reservations. Maria and Alfonso are seen to be mismatching in each way. During their early years in Los Angeles, they keep on bickering and conflicting and Luis is at times caught in the misfire. Growing in Watts, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, despite being surrounded by families Luis is seen to be an independent person who carves his path in life.
The then bad schooling system in Los Angeles has no effort of assimilating the non-English speaking society like Luis but instead, he is treated like a total stranger. Due to the lack of jobs in Los Angeles, Alfonso who was a high school principal in Mexico takes a job in which he is overqualified. Luis does not describe any form of gang violence in a negative term. He sees it as a form of rational response to police brutality, cultural genocide, and poverty in Los Angeles. Luis shows that the main reason for him to join the gang was because of Tino's death. Hence, he joined the gang to get a form of protection from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
Luis matures early since each day in school he is surrounded by sex, danger, and violence without adult supervision (Rodriguez, 2005). Gangs treat women in a very shameful way, women are forced to take passive roles purely involving their bodies. Luis presents Los Angeles as a segregated city where some races are not allowed to visit certain places. For this reason, he and his friends decide to go to the "white beach". In chapter five, Luis decides to either leaving the gang life or joining a bigger gang. This is because he is frightened by the uncertain direction in his life which is full of self-hatred. Brutality treats from the police is the main cause and the effect of the increase in gang violence.
The passage presents Luis as a person at crossroads who turns to Chente for advice and later becomes the father figure to him (Rodriguez, 2005). Gloria who is Luis' younger sister is being targeted because of Luis's action as a gang and the cycle is endless and characterized by revenge and violence. Eventually, Luis changes and leaves the gang lifestyle and becomes a political activist. Even though there are still several attacks on the Chicano population in the L.A, he is optimistic. By using his education and training he received as a political activist, he continuously fights for justice.
There are several lessons learned from the book 'Always Running' by Luis J. Rodrigues. The major lesson is that crime does not pay and show how crime life is like. This will discourage young people from joining any criminal gang. However, it also brings to light major reasons as to why people might get involved in criminal activities where parents and other stakeholders in the society such as police should play their roles well especially when handling youths.
Rodriguez, L. J. (2005). Always running: La vida loca: Gang days in LA. Simon and Schuster.
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