Thou art Asian







Let\'s say you\'re by yourself on the subway in New York City. You get on and it\'s not that crowded, there\'s a bunch of open seats. As you look around, you notice that the car is filled with mainly high school aged kids, mostly boys. On one side there is a spot next to a bunch of African Americans, on the other side it\'s a posse of Asians. Okay, so where are you going to sit? Next to the Asian\'s I bet. What if it was Latino\'s instead of Blacks, chances are you would still say you\'d go towards the Asian\'s and shy away from the more typical gang looking kids. When most people think of gangs, they don\'t really think Asian, it\'s a Black or Hispanic thing right? Well, Asian gangs have been becoming more and more prevalent. Especially among our nation\'s largest cities. The majority of them are in China Town, in San Francisco. New York\'s Asian population is continuously growing though, and with that comes the urban gangs. Where do they originate, and just how pervasive are they in our society? It\'s a new area of study that seemed more interesting to me than the usual American gangs.
First let\'s focus on the fact that gang related crime is one of the most dangerous challenges facing society and law enforcement today. They are younger, more brutal, unafraid of consequences and becoming increasingly more vicious. Gang members work together as cliques, they commit all sorts of violent crimes including murders, rapes, robberies and kidnappings. "They live in aimless and violent presents; have no sense of the past and no hope for the future; they commit unspeakably brutal crimes against other people often to gratify whatever urges of desires drive them at the moment and their utter lack of remorse is shocking" (Duin, 31). Gangs are a known problem in society; they are dangerous and hard to control. Asian gangs are a new phenomenon, yet are quickly becoming more and more common within the United States
Asian-Americans have often been stereotyped as the "model minority whose values are benign: strong work ethic, low profile, honor students, loyalty of family" (Sigmund, 1995, p.8). "Someone who is quiet, studious, and who plays the violin" (Lee, 1992, p.129) "preserving the sacred worth of human life, religious faith, community spirit and….to be teachers of tolerance hard work, fiscal responsibility, cooperation and love" (Takaki, 1989, p. 474-475). Yet Asian crimes by teens, both individually and in gangs, "have been cropping up like weeds….What has gone wrong?" (Sigmund, 1995, p.8). There seems to be a huge irony here, when one compares popular views of Asian Americans and their admirable work ethic to the increasing incidences of Asian related youth crimes. Upon a second examination, one may begin to question whether the phenomenon of Asian American crimes actually opposes the model minority work ethic, consider crime as an occupation: if the Asian American work ethic focuses on succeeding in the new world, then crime can not be ruled out as a means of attaining financial success. (Sigmund, 1995)
The history of Chinese gangs goes back to a mystical religious group formed over three hundred years ago in China. The group, "the Triad Society was made up of Buddhist and Taoist priests opposed the Manchu emperor K\'ang His, who reigned from 1662 to 1723" (Gardner, 1983,p.15). The members of the society devoted themselves to politically humanitarian causes. They escaped persecution of the emperor going to Hong Kong, where "More than three quarters of the population was said to be connected to the Triad" (Gardner, 1983, p.15) After Sun Yat Sen founded the Chinese Republic using the Triad organization politically, it\'s members began fighting among themselves and turned to criminal activities. (Takaki, 1989) Other gangs originated in the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia, and the Golden Crescent in Southwest Asia. A number of these groups came about as a result of social and political upheaval in their countries of origin. Former members of the military created many of these crime groups. So, some have their roots in political unrest in their home countries. Most of these gangs immigrated to the West Coast in large numbers following the end of the Vietnam War. (Takaki, 1989)
Gangs have been a part of society in