You are on page 1of 5

In Search of Respect By Philippe Bourgois

Introduction - participant observation - doesn t want to give the poor a bad name but also doesn t want to censor the realities of living in poverty - statistics of poverty in East Harlem Chapter 1: Violating Apartheid in the United States - has to be careful with what he says: offended Ray, the boss guy, by exposing his illiteracy - run ins with the police: people assume that he is either a drug addict or an undercover cop o because of race apartheid of New York neighborhoods - barriers of cultural capital , Ray can t work a legal business because he doesn t know how to work in a legal system - have to use violence and generosity balanced to keep friends and stay safe, upward mobility - culture of terror, racism gets internalized Chapter 2: A Street History of El Barrio - Puerto Rico is a financial liability to the U.S., has never been an economically profitable territory - Jibaros = hillbillies in Puerto Rico, immigrated to U.S., descendants have become the PR poverty of the U.S. - Most people in East Harlem think that they are directly responsible for the state that they are in, not institutional problems - East Harlem: Dutch German/Irish Catholics Jews/African Americans/Scandinavians Italians Puerto Ricans o Each ethnic group subjugated and ridiculed through first generations - poverty of East Harlem generates denunciatory literature o but some artistic/literary productions have emerged as a symbol of dignity and cultural resistance to poverty and social marginalization - 1950s urban renewal , bulldozed blocks of low-income housing and forced 15,736 families into Housing Authority Projects concentration of poverty - Historical community of speakeasies, brothels, crackhouses, shooting galleries o Affects quality of life for people attempting to live healthy lives in neighborhood (Ex. Tried to bring 11-yr-old boy to get a library card, shot down and accused of being a dope fiend or pedophile) - children can see people injecting speedballs from junior high windows - 1980s 5 Sicilian families did organized crime, one based in East Harlem = the Genovese family o Fat Tony s organization o Slowly deteriorated, less power than the other families in NY

-

crack-cocaine is highly profitable because it can be smoked and is pretty inexpensive flexible consumer commodity bcs you can buy a little bit for little money or a lot for more money but they both get the job done

Chapter 3: Crackhouse Management: Addiction, Discipline, and Dignity First owner of the Game Room, Felix, not a good owner because he liked the street-corner glory and flirting with teenage girls (Primo hired as a manager) o Game Room eventually sold to Ray by Felix s wife Primo held on as a manager under Ray o Ray brilliant labor manager discipline his workforce firmly w/o overstepping culturally defined rules of respect o Business booms, higher quality product, lower price Primo manages his own workers with his commission (Benzie v. Caesar) o Caesar is a drug addict and volatile but more reliable than Benzie, Benzie has ego Explicitly racist/sexist dynamic in Game Room (black guy s girlfriend trips) Drug addiction and working in the crack industry o Addicts that start selling often quit smoking bcs of the incentive to stop (won t get promoted if they are addicts) Legal jobs are more stable, but oftentimes make less money than crackselling o Dealing is unstable, but certain amount of glory and big nights when they make a lot of money (celebrate w/ hotels and coke) Ray orders Primo to fire Caesar, Primo refuses and his shifts move to Mon/Tues, slower nights, and hires Tony to work Thurs/Fri o Primo & Tony s hatred for each other helped Ray play them he paid them both less and they never worked together against it bcs they wouldn t talk Gato steals crack from Game Room in between Tony & Primo s shifts, Ray doesn t know who stole them (then finds out and punishes Gato) o When Ray doesn t know, he takes pay away from both Tony & Primo Group of people hanging around crackhouse provides security, companionship o Primo treats them to beer/liquor to maintain posse Old man Abraham acts senile when cops ask for crack Systems for preventing a bust Abraham, looking out for white people and people that are too clean/healthy

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Chapter 4: Goin Legit : Disrespect and Resistance Work - most people in crack dealing network have had a legal job at some point - working class jobs found are least desirable o refusal to be exploited brings them back to crack dealing - laziness, living off of food stamps and choosing to spend $ on drugs - employment rejections bring low self-confidence (during recession)

-

-

-

-

-

-

Primo and his mother taken advantage of with scam engineering training program Street culture is oppositional with workplace culture when Primo would try to take initiative he would be reprimanded for not following directions Primo, Caesar, Ray wanting to cross over to legal deli franchise Work ethic of older generations passed down why kids want to drop out of school to work. Ethic is somewhat lost when jobs aren t available Labor job machismo appeal, lost in service sector subordination work getting disses in the office, racism, and problem of being subordinate to women o Primo has to look up illiterate in the dictionary Forms of resistance, Primo/Caesar steal from their bosses, drag their feet (but laziness works better in labor jobs, office jobs it just works against them) Dress code problems (different clothes for success in street culture and office culture) o Confusion over dress code only have enough $ to buy one set of work clothes, but then Caesar had to do construction work and ruined his clothes o Job training program Primo drops out bcs he doesn t have the right clothes, doesn t want to be made fun of Racism & Racketeering Construction jobs available and macho but white supremacy in institution (Italian mafia) keeps African Americans and Latinos out union employment = ideal, taken advantage of in pursuit of unionized jobs (construction company that lays people off when they re about to get unionized) racism/job discrimination against new immigrant groups (Italians P.R.s) when people do the necessary things to be successful in office job (subordination) it is seen as a betrayal of their culture/race on the street

Chapter 5: School Days: Learning to be a Better Criminal - public school = institutional disaster o immigrant mother helpless w/in English-speaking school system, power order reversed for 2nd generation immigrant children o reluctant to participate in school leads to conflicts w/ teachers  the normal channels of mother-child authority were subverted (177) - violent personas necessary for kids who are moved around a lot, need to protect themselves when entering a new school system (ex. Caesar) - misinterpretations of depression and subcultural habits = child deemed mentally unstable (ex. Caesar) - Graffiti hall of fame - Stories of bullying special-Ed students and gang rape creates objectivity problems for Bourgois. - Peer groups a part of social stabilization in place of school (gangs)

-

adolescent mischief taken to a new level in El Barrio through theft, mugging, breaking/entering, etc. sexual violence (gang rape) plays into coming-of-age in street culture as well as sexist balance and subjugation of women

Chapter 6: Redrawing the Gender Line on the Street - as traditional patriarchal systems (from PR) are changed/lost in inner city, male dominance attempted to be maintained through violence against women - Candy s interviews with Phillippe o Domestic violence is normal, violence romanticized through motives of jealousy (female liberation v. traditional sexual jealousy) o Candy beaten by father, runs away from home at 13 and beaten by Felix, killed 5 babies - Inverted patriarchy when Felix goes to jail Candy starts dating Primo o Becomes charismatic drug dealer, makes a ton of $ and becomes very powerful o Dominant in relationship w/ Primo, makes more money and demands sex when she wants it o Violent breakout ruins their relationship - Even though women s realities in inner city culture can lead to more independence, doesn t necessarily live up to community support of previous patriarchal society in P.R. - Welfare doesn t work with people, wants to find people who are cheating the system o Candy getting $53 a week for 5 people - Lack of welfare forces Candy into selling again, gets arrested and sent to prison o When dealing for Martin didn t bail her out, Ray did o Hardships of prison depression, harassment, bad food, etc. - When talking to Candy about prison, Primo gets jealous of her knowledge of prison, macho - Miscommunication in court Candy s red jumpsuit considered inappropriate/provoking when Candy thought it was dressing up Chapter 7: Families and Children in Pain - street culture transforms hopeful children (Junior wants to be a cop) into products of poverty (becomes a dealer for Ray) - people in Eat Harlem are very affection to babies/small children - P.R. mothers are still socially responsible for sole care of their children, but in America more interested in independence neglected children - Jackie, Candy s daughter, runs away from home with a boy when her father (Felix) comes back from prison, ends up getting gang raped o When she gets back, men in the community blame her for being promiscuous, Candy gets her b.c. and they see it as encouraging her to have more sex w/o babies

-

-

-

-

Maria/Carmen get pregnant with Primo/Caesar, write poetry and romanticize having a baby o Kids provide purity and unconditional love for mothers Mothers on crack neglect their children, then are looked down upon by the community for ruining their families (despite fathers already have abandoned the fam w/o consequences) Accused of having lost the mother-nurture instinct by community as well as media o By allowing children to die they prevent themselves emotional harm of seeing children succumb to dangerous st. culture Philippe tries to convince them not to sell to expecting mothers to no avail in the mid-1990s, young males in Harlem aged 18-24 had a better chance of dying violently than soldiers on active duty during WW2

Chapter 8: Vulnerable Fathers - Men want to be part of a stable household, but is more street respectable to have multiple sex partners and not care for children - Men did lead stable family lives when they had legal jobs - Masculinity in crisis o In P.R., men had many children to help with rural work o 2nd generation have many children bc its what they know, have strong religious beliefs against abortion o 3rd generation has sexual conquests, try to avoid pregnancies - Abusive fathers, sons turn into abusive boyfriends/husbands/fathers - Primo and Little Pete had rough experiences with their own fathers - Wish they could be good father figures - Primo has son Papito that lives with his mother, Sandra (at one time had stable family life), he asks him to come hang out but then forgets to pick him up and doesn t want to call and get yelled at o Spends money for son s bday present on cocain/heroin - Man who is dating mother is responsible for paying for the kids (can t get the package for free - Blame the mother for familial problems, for not being married despite the abusiveness of fathers in most families - Recognition of poor fathering hurts children