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Always Running

Always Running research paper due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this?

The autobiography of Luís Rodriguez is an important story worth the telling. Though the author has received mostly rave reviews for this graphic, desperate account of gang-life in East Los Angeles, his writing is decidedly amateurish. Additionally, his stated motive sounds somehow disingenuous to this cynical reader. Your review should address both the important content of Always Running and the ways in which this compelling work “misses the mark”.

Always RunningRodriguez and his family immigrated to California from Mexico, looking for those greener pastures typically associated with this country. They were to face one disappointment after another. Racism was rampant, and the author’s father had difficulty securing appropriate employment. An intellectual man with talent and training, he was usually only hired for very menial tasks.  Employers, teachers, and the white L. A. citizenry in general seemed to hold the immigrants in very low regard – and they were not subtle in communicating that fact.

Life in the Barrio

Life in the barrio among others like themselves was not pleasant either. There were high levels of violence and drug activity – and always, always the poverty. With high hopes of a bright and prosperous future dashed, the discouraged Rodriguez family settled -- and settled in. 

Luís Rodriguez certainly paints a vivid portrait of his youth in the barrio. One would be hard-put to argue otherwise.  Always Running has a definite feeling of authenticity with regard to the particulars of conditions and experiences in the slums of East L.A.  The author conveys the sense of helplessness and hopelessness he and his cohorts experienced as outcasts from the larger society. Not that the Hispanics found life in Watts completely without joy.  After all, the human animal can be quite inventive even under the worst of circumstances.  But there was a deep-running thread of anguish and anger as these once hopeful immigrants came to grips with the reality of being the decided underdogs in an affluent society.

Why Join Gangs? According to Always Running

Rodriguez was a gang-banger from the age of eleven. By twelve, he had witnessed scenes that most of us hope to avoid for a lifetime. The author helps us understand the emotional and logical reasons that so many young people join gangs. These reasons are:

  1. Alienated from the larger, wealthier, more respected, better educated, more privileged group in whose midst they find themselves, minority youths believe that gangs will address their social and emotional needs. 
  2. Dysfunctional families abound in barrio conditions, so gangs often fill the “family gap” for members as well. 
  3. Within these violent groups young people seek acceptance, a much-desired sense of belonging, friendship – and protection.

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