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Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member

Sanyika Shakur wrote "Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member" as a retrospect of his years in the 1970's and 80's and to demonstrate, through the character of Kody Scott, the motivation behind gang membership.  Shakur illustrates that Kody Scott had "as much ambition, vitality, and ruthlessness to succeed as any corporate executive planning a hostile takeover".  In capitalist American society, being part of a gang was a full time job, an alternative to the 9-5 living that white society lives by.  According to Tray Ball, "Bangin' ain't no part-time thang, it's full-tim, it's a career".  Shakur demonstrates how gangs took him away from his family, his child and any hope for a better future for himself and his daughter.

Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member

What is disturbing about "Monster" in regards to socialization, is that Shakur illustrates that separation between different cultures is the solution to dealing with cultural differences. Sanyika Shakur refers to his neighborhood as "in-country" and "the war zone." He speaks of his participation "in the war" and uses Vietnam-era words like "free fire zone" and "escalation" to describe it.In the following section, Shakur relates the Rodney King incident to how the Vietnamese felt about the occupying armies of Americans.

The beating of Rodney King brought the realization of my powerlessness crashing down upon me, and with it, my rage and appetite for destruction rose. It was while in this mind-set that I clearly overstood the agitated rage meted out during the 1992 rebellion in Los Angeles, which was truly surprising to me. I wasn't surprised that it occurred--that was inevitable. But I was surprised by the swiftness with which it unfolded. Some people say that the participants burned their own neighborhoods, which seems as crazy as saying that the Vietnamese destroyed their land to route out the Americans....

Here Sanyika Shakur identifies with the Vietnamese, against the occupying army of Americans, but it's an interesting twist on the story of the American lieutenant explaining that "we had to destroy this village in order to save it...." since (in Shakur's version) it's the Vietnamese (and their African American counterparts) who are forced to destroy their own village in order to save it. And in Sanyika Shakur's version, the victory of the National Liberation Front is hardly assured, since he concludes that the US's 130-year-old experiment of multiculturalism has failed, that the U.S. is dividing like Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that separation is the only solution.

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