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Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Timesby Luis Rodriguez
Synopses & Reviews
Luis Rodriguez?s life was once in the grip of gang brotherhood and rivalries, but unlike many who enter that world, he was able to turn himself around. Informed by Rodriguez?s work as a peacemaker with gangs in Los Angeles and Chicago, Hearts and Hands suggests concrete approaches to the issue of youth and violence. Rodriguez warns that sacrificing community values to material gain by incarcerating or marginalizing people is rending the social fabric. In his comprehensive approach, he includes real-life examples of the young people he has met on his path, incorporates specific strategies for change, and draws inspiration from Joseph Campbell, Lao-tzu, and Buddhist thinkers. Rodriguez?s grassroots perspective gives his writing both weight and an optimism rarely encountered in the literature of life on the streets.
"Rodriguez here takes a long, hard look at the endemic violence and the 'cultural malaise of isolation and meaninglessness' that he sees as defining swaths of U.S. culture. Combining personal memoir, perceptive sociological analysis and astute advice about political organizing, Rodriguez, whose youth included 'drugs, jail, and gang warfare,' writes movingly of how he turned his life around and dedicated himself to working with teens at risk....Never sentimentalizing or sensationalizing his materials, Rodriguez writes honestly and incisively from experience, knowledge and compassion." Publishers Weekly
Hearts and Hands deals with many of the difficult issues addressed in Luis Rodríguezs memoir of gang life, Always Running, but with a focus on healing through community building. Empowered by his experiences as a peacemaker with gangs in Los Angeles and Chicago, Rodríguez offers a unique book of change. He makes concrete suggestions, shows how we can create nonviolent opportunities for youth today, and redirects kids into productive and satisfying lives. And he warns that we sacrifice community values for material gain when we incarcerate or marginalize people already on the edge of society. His interest in dissolving gang influence on black and latino kids is personal as well as societal; his son, to whom he dedicates Hearts and Hands, is currently serving a prison sentence for gang-related activity. With anecdotes, interviews, and time-tested guidelines, Hearts and Hands makes a powerful argument for building and supporting community life.
Both a memoir of a life in a street gang and a manifesto to stop the violence and restore the community, this approach to a solution includes real-life examples of the young people the author has met, incorporates specific strategies for change, and draws inspiration from Joseph Campbell, Lao-tzu, and Buddhist thinkers.
About the Author
Best known for his autobiographical account, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (1993), LUIS J. RODRIGUEZ has written for the Nation, Grand Street, Los Angeles Weekly, and Americas Review, among others. Winner of a National Book Award, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for poetry, Rodríguez is also the founder of Tía Chucha Press, publishing emerging, socially conscious poets. He lives in San Fernando, Calif., with his wife, Trina, and their family.
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History and Social Science » American Studies » Gangs