I started reading White Devil and got really into it. Then there is a whole section in the middle that is pretty much about Steven Tse, the 1991 shooting... and reading it I got a sickening feeling and a bitter taste in my mouth. For some reason I kept feeling like a little boy being really tired, holding my mom's hand walking home from Kwong Kow at night, out of Chinatown, into Castle Square. I felt small, and weak and unprotected.
And hell nothing even ever happened to me and that's the feelings I got.
Okay my mom was robbed while I was there in the stroller once and the gun was pointed at me. The robber was black...
What's my point?
I wanted to write something about gangs that wasn't glorifying or even overly vilifying it.. but find that maybe I'm not qualified.
I'm just going to list some concepts that floated around in people's minds in Chinatown. It's hard to put my finger on really but for instance when you list these old organizations like On Leong, Hung Mun, or any Tong or any Gung sau there are very strong and contrasting emotions that probably come up... for me anyway.
On the one hand feelings of violence, injustice, tyranny and just dirty ugly aspects of humanity my surface.
On the other hand, at the same time feelings of community, loyalty, safety, home, family, may surface. White Devil sort of touches on this.. but I'm talking about everyday people, not even gang members that would have these feelings. Me, my mom, active church leaders. Really really really good people will have these feelings, the good and the bad.
It's weird but at the same time it's normal. Can someone help me with what I'm trying to say here?
In any case, Chinatown could totally use one of those clubs that you have in college or in high school well people get together and talk about this stuff, with no goal in particular in mind.
I'm going to throw some ideas out there, and they may offend people, in fact they offend part of myself. But their just some questions.
Does gentrification mean that Chinatown is safer? Can you say that look, you may whine about gentrification, but having rich white people around.. isn't that why the police are paying more attention? Isn't that why things like that massacre don't happen as much?
Or, are they unrelated coincidences?
Does Chinatown being more white, make it more safe and therefore all that is way better for Chinatown residents, especially the new immigrants? Does Chinese-ness, or rather clannish, tribal, Herng ha-ish mentality make Chinatown dangerous? or does it make the community stronger and safer and more cohesive? Does there just need to be a balance?
When I did crime watch a lot of friends, mentors, and older members of the community openly criticized crime watch to me. They saw a danger in the idea that Chinatown should police it's own (thinking that was what crime watch was about) and cited that '91 shooting as what you get when you have community policing.
The thing is Crime watch also involved the same community organizations that often were tied with gangs. Legitimate Politicians are often evolved from, or the children or least in-laws of Gang leaders.
To compare to something outside Chinatown that everyone is familiar with... JFK was president, his grandfather was a bootlegger.
FDR was president.. his grandfather was an opium trafficker in China.
Ummm... Obama is President, his father was a dictator of sorts.
At some point we should talk about that evolution in Chinatown too, but I need more details and my words must be measured and careful for that subject. If not for my safety... than at least for the fact that I still have to interact with the Chinatown community.
So people viewed Crime watch as a return to Ping On, a step backward. But actually, what parading around in blue and hiring a police detail did was invite the police in. The police didn't feel like the whole neighborhood was against them and so many police, white police, actively paid more attention to Chinatown even when they weren't hired as detail cops. The neighborhood became THEIR neighborhood.
Scores in Chinatown tend to be settled more on paper now than in the street with guns. In fact that trend had already started when John Willis first stepped in, which is why a lot of the other groups (who had become more of a fraternity than a gang) saw him as a wannabe. That is not to say he wasn't a real gangster. Obviously he was. It's just that him and his group was behind the trend. You could say the same about Bulger and Flemmi. The Irish had already moved onward and upward. It was a time for Irish to be Lawyers and Doctors. So gangster figures are somewhat an embarrassment, and then when their deeds are glorified that is more embarrassing. But it doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it.
Even though Chinatown has moved more toward legitimacy and handling things in court, there is still a bullying aspect to that behavior that is ugly and nasty. Now some would say, "Adam you are an idealist that doesn't understand how the world works."
Or they might even say, "Adam, who are you to talk?"
Well more on that later. But I do see a need for dialogue.
And I think that White Devil does have the potential to get people talking.