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Dear Editor,

I thought the article on Los Angeles gangs was more than a little naive. Who cares if the Crips started out as a community organisation with good intentions? These young hoodlums currently terrorise their communities. In many urban areas throughout America, law abiding are afraid to let their children play in their front yards or sit on their porches on warm evenings for fear of being accidentally shot. I am an African-American woman who had the pleasure of visiting London last summer. It was such a refreshing change of pace to be able to walk about and take public transportation at night, something most African-American women can?t do at home.
One thing that always seems to be missing in most stories about police oppression of ethnic minorities is the trade-offs that females in these communities must make when the police are perceived as hostile interlopers. The sad fact is that sexual assault and domestic violence are usually crimes of opportunity. Black men tend to assault black women just as white men tend to assault white women. But if the police are a hostile interlopers where does the black female go when her husband beats her or her neighbour rape her? I?ve often wondered just how many rapes and other assaults go unreported in our inner cities because the victims are too terrified to report them? So many of these young gang members have guns and don?t respect life. Only the bravest women will press charges against a man who owns a gun and uses it. Most of these criminals neighbours can?t even afford to move away. So their victims have the added trauma of seeing their assailant on a regular basis.
Black on black crime is the African-American community?s most pressing issue. A black teenager shot to death by another black teenager is just as dead as he would be had a white policeman pulled the trigger. When a black man beats or rapes a black woman he hurts her body and spirit as much as a white man would. To say or pretend otherwise is the ultimate insult to victims of black on black crime.

Candace Miller
James Madison University,
Harrisonburg, Virginia

Dear Candace,
I acknowledge the points you made below. I would simply like to point out that the article in no way condones the gang culture within the African-American community. We simply wanted to give our UK readers here an understanding of the growth of the gang culture in LA, in a few pages. Secondly other publications are constantly telling us about the horrors of this culture without putting the entire phenomenon in perspective. Whatever the shortcomings of the African-American community (especially, I agree, the men) ? we should never lose sight of the fact that White America played a big part in the destruction of Black America right from slavery to the current covert social exclusion.
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