Fussin', Cussin', and Discussin' among South Los Angeles Juvenile GangsJohn C. Quicker and Akil S. Batani-Khalfani
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.
"A compelling sociological examination of the pre-1970 Los Angeles 'street groups' that improbably spawned the Crips and Bloods.... Gripping urban history."
"Quicker and Batani-Khalfani offer a penetrating look at the origins of Los Angeles gangs that were active between the 1940s and the 1960s.... VERDICT A sympathetic view of early youth gangs in Los Angeles, before they became known for crime."
“Despite all the popular media renderings of LA’s infamous Crips and Bloods over the years, relatively little had been written about how these street groups came to be. Until now. Before Crips delivers the well-documented and engaging origin story that’s been missing. Quicker and Batani-Khalfani challenge conventional ‘gang’ research with compelling interviews, ethnographic observations, and questionnaire data involving Black Angelenos who were actually there in the early days.”
—Darnell M. Hunt, Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and coeditor of Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities
“Before Crips provides a rich tapestry of insights and information about how gangs start, what neighborhoods they are found in, why some gangs are violent, and where law enforcement misdirects their interventions. It shows how and why Black gangs emerged in Los Angeles and their evolution into the most menacing gangs of all: Crips and Bloods. Quicker and Batani-Khalfani’s insider/outsider approach to what early Los Angeles was like, along with the
detailed information about the neighborhoods that spawned Black street gangs, is enthralling.”
—James Diego Vigil, Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology, Law, and Society at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Barrio Gangs: Street Life and Identity in Southern California
“Before Crips provides a unique long-term historical account of street gangs in South Los Angeles neighborhoods, filling a major gap in our knowledge of gang formation and activity in the years prior to the Watts Riot in 1965. It provides critical answers for the disconnection in types of gangs and gang activities pre- and post-Watts and offers a new perspective on the origins and character of the Crips, exposing popular myths about this gang.”—Delbert S. Elliott, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, and coauthor of The Prevention of Crime
Studies in Transgression, edited by David C. Brotherton, publishes books at the intersection of sociology and critical criminology. This series challenges the normative conventions of the broader study of crime to produce a fuller accounting of a society’s responsibilities for and complicity in the threats and wrongdoing that come to be seen as police-able crimes. The series examines behaviors understood as transgressive by looking at the cultural assumptions that contextualize that reading and the structural factors that underlie those behaviors. Books in the series will examine marginal lifestyles and their relationship to crime around the Unites States and the globe. Perspective authors should contact the series edtior David C. Brotherton or Temple University Press Editor Ryan Mulligan to discuss their work in progress for inclusion in the series.