Gang Leader for a Day Essay

2292 Words May 4th, 2013 10 Pages
Innovate Your Life In the book, Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociology student from the University of Chicago starts out simply trying to understand “how it feels to be poor and black,” and ends up spending years and years figuring out the ins and outs of a gang society (Venkatesh 14). Sudhir receives the chance of a sociologist’s lifetime to see first-hand what life is like in the projects. He follows gang leader, J.T. around and studies his life at the Robert Taylor homes for years. Throughout Venkatesh’s experience he witnesses many things some people go a lifetime without seeing. For example, he was no stranger to seeing people use drugs or get beat up by gang members. One interesting aspect of Venkatesh’s experiment …show more content…
He makes his money in various ways. Besides selling drugs through his gang, he also runs three buildings. He would allow people who were known as squatters to stay in the building when it was cold out. They were allowed to hang out in the stairwells and the gang provided them protection for a little bit of money. The gang was always finding ways like this to collect money. They would allow prostitutes to come and live there and some of them would do business there but they also had a fee to pay. Anyone who J.T. allowed to stay in his buildings without a lease would get taxed on their earnings for whatever type of business they were doing. But in return the Black Kings would provide them with protection. Venkatesh learned a lot about the gang’s hierarchy and J.T.’s “business plans.” Early in their relationship, J.T. explained the structure to making money in the drug game to Sudhir while he planned his move to running the Robert Taylor homes. He calls the Robert Taylor homes “easy money” because of how convenient the location was for white people to drive over. He also says he would go from making thirty thousand dollars a year to seventy-five thousand dollars or maybe even a hundred thousand a year (towards the end of the book J.T. is making somewhere around two hundred thousand dollars a year). This is where J.T. begins to explain the ladder of moving up in the gang and how he wants to move up. Throughout the book Venkatesh
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