This groundbreaking book opens the door on the missing record of South Los Angeles juvenile gangs. It is the result of the unique friendship that developed between John Quicker and Akil Batani-Khalfani, aka Bird, who collaborated to show how structural marginality transformed hang-out street groups of non-White juveniles into gangs, paving the way for the rise of the infamous Crips and Bloods. Before Crips uses a macro historical analysis to sort through political and economic factors to explain the nature of gang creation.
The authors mine a critical archive, using direct interviews with original gang members as well as theory and literature reviews, to contextualize gang life and gang formation. They discuss (and fuss and cuss about) topics ranging from the criminal economy and conceptions of masculinity to racial and gendered politics and views of violence. Their insider/outsider approach not only illuminates gang values and organization, but what they did and why, and how they grew in a backdrop of inequality and police brutality that came to a head with the 1965 Watts Rebellion.
Providing an essential understanding of early South Los Angeles gang life, Before Crips explains what has remained constant, what has changed, and the roots of the violence that continues.