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The neighborhood I was grown up in was totally different from that of the original Code of the Streets. In the first part of this paper, I will compare my childhood neighborhood with that of the original Code of the Streets. I will use my childhood neighborhood to explain the socialization process and the dynamics that exist in my neighborhood.
In this second part of this paper, I will talk about why this 20 year old book Code of the Streets still is applicable to the current distrust of policing and the current “stop-snitching” culture. In the last 20 years, there is no progress has been made with the police versus the community. We still have the same issues that were brought up in the Code of the Streets, which I will explain with the examples from the current news.
I grew up in a small town in Southern China. My dad is a teacher and my mom is an accountant. The neighborhood I grew up in consisted of all similar families as mine, because most of the teachers from my dad’s school lived in the same neighborhood, which was close to their school. My community was very quiet, peaceful and lovely. Almost everyone knew each other and interacted closely with each other, which is totally different from the poor inner-city black community described in the Code of the streets, a neighborhood full of violence and aggression. There was basically no crime or violence in my neighborhood. People all had similar culture and similar backgrounds, so I lived in a harmony and safe community. My parents had no worries about my safety when I go out to play with kids of neighbors. I am the single child in my family and because of the policy at that time in China, most of the families in my community have single child too. With no siblings to play with at home, I need to go out and integrate into the community. My after-school activities were finishing homework at home first and then hanging out with friends in the yard. We played games and chased after each other until the darker night came and my parents called me back to sleep. That was the happiest time during my day.
I went to the local elementary school and middle school, where most of the kids in my community went to. It was a very good school district and we had good teachers. The school offers good elementary education and almost all the families in my community took care of education seriously, because most of the parents were teachers themselves. It was the same as in my family. My parents though education is the most important thing and they wanted me to become more book smart instead of street smart. All they cared about me was I performed wee at school and I got great grades.
As talked in the Code of the Streets, the socialization process is “people internalize cultural expectations, then pass these expectations on to other.” My socialization process consisted of: 1. Internalization. My parents always emphasized the importance of the education to me. 2. Roles. My neighbors played a good role in my socialization process. I always played together with the kids of my neighbors, who shared the similar steps as me. 3. Identity. Because of the harmony and peaceful neighbors, I could fit into a specific group of people very quickly. I feel I could go anywhere and interact with any person and would still be accepted because of the person I am. Personality: I’m a very out-going person who is good at social life.
The agents of socialization have impacted your life are family, school, peers and media.
Family is one of the main driving forces that can directly affect my socialization process. I live in a very good family and I have nice parents who taught me to be kind, diligent and hard-working. They gave me a happy childhood and affected me all the time. What I learned from my family and my parents applied to my adult society too. I believe that my parents have successfully raised a socially acceptable child and played a very important role in my current social life. Because I am the single child in my family, my parents cared me a lot and apply their own beliefs and social traits to me. For example, my dad always told me to be polite and nice to others. “Please”, “Excuse me”, “Thank you” are the words my parents required me to say to others all the time. They also taught me to be a responsible person. If I promised something to others, I need to keep my words. What’s more, I need to be responsible for myself with self-disciplines. Overall, my family was the most important agent of my socialization.
School and peers form the school and my neighborhood are also very important agents of my socialization. The people I interacted with most are the teachers and students from the school. At school, we not only learned knowledge but also learned social concepts and social rules. My friends at school have a great influence on my social acceptance. We played with each other at school or after school. We also competed with each other in the study, grades or sports. They also taught me how to be a nice person and how to deal with each other. I cared for my friends and I wanted to be a helpful person for my friends, which was built during the time back then. I think that’s why I could be a person like I am today, who is nice and welcomed by others in the social life.
The media is another major enabler of socialization to me. Media at my time was Internet, television and magazines. Internet just started booming when I was kid and it had great influence on me because what was on the internet was totally a different world from the society from family and school. From the television and Internet, I could understand what the world is outside my hometown and I could accept different cultures. It taught me how to get along with people with a totally different culture background. Media played a very different role in my socialization process.
I would say that my family was a decent family. My family accepted the mainstream values and taught me those values. My parents told me to be a nice person with hard-working, diligent, polite, kind-hearted, responsible traits which coincide with the mainstream values. They were kind of strict with me and required me to perform well at school and study hard to get great grades. They interacted and involved within the community and my neighborhood, which consisted of similar decent families as mine. My parents asked me to respect others and they also took care of me very well. Overall, I would say that my family was a decent family, full of love and harmony.
Today, we have a lot of people who don’t respect or distrust the police. I believe it fits with street laws that go back 20 years, but I also believe it goes back even further, especially when it comes to African-Americans. Many years ago, we had white police officers attacking African Americans just because of the color of their skin, so I think growing up in that era they had to be angry with the police, even today we have so many police officers killing innocent people right by the right of the individual. So many of us are afraid to call the police and speak out because so many people have told us that the death toll has risen. They post pictures of people on their Instagram and Facebook pages, calling them whistleblowers. I’m sure things have gotten worse since then, because in the past people fought with their hands, and today you have people who choose to fight with fire.
The code of the Streets was written in 1994. Distrust of the police has begun the ‘Stop Snitching’ movement, because ‘wiretapping’ requires detainees to release classified information about specific groups of people, which is common at the top and even at the bottom. The movement started because people expected the police to do it themselves and solve the crime themselves. ‘Informers’ volunteer information and make it easier for the police to do their job. Distrust of the police is all the more apparent because they ask whistleblowers to sacrifice one of their own, people who are stereotyped as untrustworthy among the public. The code of the Streets states that crime is more likely to occur in poorer communities, which increases the presence of the police, which in turn creates unrest between poorer communities and the police. Current incidents involving the police in 2014, such as the fatal shooting of Michael Brown Jr. an 18-year-old African American man in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, and how things turned out, speak for themselves. Darren Wilson, a police department officer, shot and killed Michael Brown on a charge of burglary, but the evidence suggests that the actual crime was running down the street. There have been many articles about how police falsified evidence, such as a seatbelt showing brown’s alleged shoplifting to justify the shooting, or witness statements that were ignored and affixed with ‘conflicting’ evidence. Distrust of such crimes between the community and the police saw institutional racism as an obvious crime committed by white police officers, but he paid no price for it. In New York, there was a lot of distrust when police used an illegal choke on an innocent man. The state of New York has banned the use of ‘restraints to cut off blood and oxygen flow to the brain’, but the police officer who killed Eric garner on July 17, 2014 used them. The incident has further increased distrust of the police, who have broken the law and killed innocent people despite the ban on restraint. When laws are made, people, including civilians, corporate workers, presidents and even police, are expected to obey them. Thus, distrust of the police includes the fact that even the police do not obey their own laws, and that these are the people who are hired to ‘protect and serve’ the communities they want to destroy. It is frustrating and shocking to know that the people who are supposed to protect you will not protect you under certain circumstances, including race and class.
The Code of the Streets is 20 years out of date, but it still applies today. Distrust of the police began in 1994, and was even more pronounced today. Yes, the street act still applies after 20 years, because only 20 years have passed without any progress between the community and the police. Trust cannot be established between the two unless changes are made. The Code of the Streets often referred to poor neighborhoods as ‘crime-ridden’ and remained an African-American community, so 20 years later, the stigma still exists in that poor African-American community, and the police have not changed their view of that particular community.
When we talked about the distrust of policing, however, at the same time, we need to think of Blue Lives Matter. There were two examples from the news. 28-year-old Akai Gurley was fatally shot by NYPD officers on November 20, 2014 in Brooklyn, New York. Two police officers were patrolling the stairwell of the Louis h. Pink Houses of the New York City housing authority in east Brooklyn when they entered a dark, unlit stairwell. Gurley and his girlfriend entered the stairwell on the seventh floor, fourteen floors below them. The shooting was declared an accidental released and the bullet bounced off the wall and Gurley was fatally shot once in the chest. On April 19, 2016, Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Danny Chun sentenced him to five years of probation and 800 hours of community service after he classified manslaughter as criminal manslaughter.
The other example from the news was on July 7, 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson was ambushed and opened fire on a group of police officers in Dallas, Texas, killing five officers and wounding nine others. Two civilians were also wounded. Johnson, an Afghan reservist, was angry that police shot black men and said he wanted to kill whites, especially white officers.
These two news showed that the issues mentioned in the Code of the Streets still exist today. The code of the Streets states that crime is more likely to occur in poorer communities, which increases the presence of the police, which in turn creates unrest between poorer communities and the police.
My family, my schools, my peers and the media played a very important role in my process of the socialization. Lived in a decent family, I appreciate that I could grow up in love and peace, which brought me to where I am toady today.
Speaking of distrust of policing and the movement of Blue Lives Matter, in the last 20 years, there is no progress has been made with the police versus the community. We still have the same issues that were brought up in the Code of the Streets.
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