Hyper-criminalization and the normalization of violence was an integral aspect of Robert Weide’s formative years growing up in Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s, where Sureño, Crip, and Blood gangs maintained a precarious coexistence, often punctuated by racialized gang violence. His insider status informs Divide & Conquer, which considers how the capitalist economy, the race concept, and nationalist ideology have made gang members the instruments of their own oppression, resulting in racialized sectarian conflicts spanning generations between African American and Latino gangs in Los Angeles and California’s prisons.
While gang members may fail to appreciate the deeper historical and conceptual foundations of these conflicts, they rarely credit naked bigotry as the root cause. As Weide asserts, they divide themselves according to inherited groupist identities, thereby turning them against one another in protracted blood feuds across gang lines and racial lines.
Weide explores both the historical foundations and the conceptual and cultural boundaries and biases that divide gang members across racial lines, detailing case studies of specific racialized gang conflicts between Sureño, Crip, and Blood gangs. Weide employs mixed-methods research, having spent nearly a decade on ethnographic fieldwork and conducted over one hundred formal interviews with gang members and gang enforcement officers concerning taboo subjects like prison and gang politics, and transracial gang membership.
Divide & Conquer concludes with encouraging developments in recent years, as gang members themselves, on their own volition, have intervened to build solidarity and bring racialized gang conflicts between them to an end.