Sunday, November 2, 2008


Witches. Vampires. Ghouls. Ghosts. Dragons. Monsters. Zombies. Bloods. Bloods? What are bloods? In the Bronx, on Halloween, there are ONLY the Bloods, and there is nothing scarier. I left school trembling with nerves, my back in knots over anxiety for my own safety and for that of my students, who we sent out into the scary world at the end of the school day.

They all came to school – or rather, less than half of them came to school – on Halloween, all abuzz with their own nerves and stories about what had happened the night before and what was predicted to take place that day. Halloween was designated as initiation day for the gang, and in order to become a member, boys had to ‘slash’ the faces of 31 females. They came to school all talking about the girls in their buildings who had been attacked the night before, and warning me to be careful because it was expected to climax that night. There were warnings sent out to the teachers, the police, and all hospitals in the area to be prepared and cautious.

We did a rapid dismissal, letting them out 30 minutes before the end of the school day, with the intent of catching anyone who would be waiting outside the school for them by surprise. We instructed them to go directly home and lock their doors and stay inside – do not loiter, do not wait for a later bus.

Boo! Imagine really being scared. Imagine having that fear as a part of your life, becoming a part of you. That’s why people join these gangs – that fear that must get inside of them – lead them to seek protection and comraderie. It’s senseless, dangerous, irrational to join a gang – as everyone knows what it can lead to, what road it will take you down. And yet, what is more senseless then sending 12 year old girls, trembling with fear out into a world that’s so scary, where they cover their faces and picture being grabbed and slashed as some lost boys ticket into one such gang. It’s a senseless world that they grow up in, so is it any wonder that it leads to such things?

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