“I been her three months now. This is my second time. My moms an X-ray technician, she visits. My dad’s not in the picture. My girlfriend braided my hair. I’m from BPS. Black Peace Stone. Where’s that? It’s the Jungles. What’s that? The apartments. Where are the apartments? Western LA over near La Salle. I live there with my homies when I’m on the run. My mother lives in Sun Valley. When people ask me where I’m from and I’m pissed off, the words that I spit out are BPS. People know BPS. I came here when I was 14. I was going through things. My best friend was shot in front of me. I’ve been shot at. I’m a Blood. I pimp girls. I was taught the game. It’s a way of life; it’s a way of getting money. I really never went to school. I always ditched. Yea I’m 16, but instead of going to school I would pick up my hoes. They’re all 23, 25. Age isn’t a problem. It’s how you carry yourself. You gotta know the game. You gotta have that mind.
I came here when I was 14. I was going through things.
My best friend was shot in front of me. I’ve been shot at.
I may be 16, but I dress like a guy and I act like a guy. I shoot steroids to make myself buff. I been gay since I been here. I don’t do drugs. I only smoke weed and shoot steroids. Being gay? When it’s guy on guy you get judged a lot more. When it’s girl with girl nobody really cares. While I’m in here, I still make bank. I keep control over my whores. They get nothing from me. Yea they get a little present here and there, once in a while I give em a compliment. My mom got pissed ‘cause she didn’t know where all the money was coming from. I work with BPS and we all don’t come together unless everybody needs a big solution, when there are enemies in the hood. But kids are gang members when they’re five years old. You’ll hear em say, “I’m Hoover.” That’s a crip. The Jungle is over by Crenshaw mall, but Crenshaw mall is enemy territory. I went to school in Tajunga, but there are a whole bunch of Naps there. Naps are the enemy. Yea I read the bible, but I’m no holy roller spirit. But I read it. After this I’ll go to camp for six months.”
-U.N., age 16
**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.