So I spend time talking to the youth about the consequences of being in a gang and try to give them direction to a better life. Out of all the kids I talk to, I never sat down to talk to my own nephews, my own blood. My brother who belongs to the same gang I ran with had taken my nephews to get jumped (initiated) into the gang. My brother just like me has done time and battled his own demons. He knows what that life style brings so for him to walk his own kids down that road, just didn’t make sense to me. Just the other day the detectives picked them up a shooting, and I can hear my brother telling them not to talk to the detectives till the lawyer gets there. They are 19 and 18, he should be telling them to go to college and talking about girls. Not about how to conduct yourself when being interrogated by the cops. He drinks and smokes with them and I had a deep conversation about what he did. He sat there and listened to me; I don’t think he was paying attention to me though. He said “well I rather they be from my gang than any other gang”. I never felt like beating the shit out of my brother like I did that day.
As a parent I would never take my son and open the path for him join my former gang. I would never wish that on anyone let alone my son. So I sat down with my nephews and we began to talk about what they are up to. After we talked, I figured out they where lost, had no direction, had no ambition. I looked at my brother and saw that he is not stable; he’s still getting caught up in legal problems. I told him he just ruined his kids, he just cut their life in half. I tried telling them what they are doing is wrong and what life has in store for them. They looked at me like I was from another planet. I just told them not to live life so fast and hard and they replied by saying “we live for the day, we live one day at a time”. I said that’s your problem, you won’t have a future. I feel like I failed with my own blood, I am over here saving strangers and I can’t even save my own blood.
I should have noticed the change, and in a awkward way I did, but I figured my brother would have it under control. I should have realized that he doesn’t even have control of himself, let alone his kids. I even offered them a spot in my own house so they can be away from all that and they said no. So now I have to keep tabs on them, I call my boys in my old gang and make sure someone is on top of them. I just hope they come to realize that living the way they are living will get old soon. It took me thirty years to understand that ride, I just hope it doesn’t take them that long because my gut feeling is telling me that they will be in and out the system or dead in a few years.
by Rolando Ortiz