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Boys N the Hood

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Boyz n the Hood

In his movie Boyz n the Hood, director and writer John Singleton depicts what life was and still is for African Americans living in South Central Los Angeles. By displaying such uninviting living conditions that is South Central L.A., Mr. Singleton attempts to showcase the self-destructive deviant behavior that is destroying the African American community. Some of the self-destructive deviant behaviors that the movie touches upon are gang life, the dealing of crack cocaine and rampant gun violence. Using this movie and the article Capitalism, Class, and Crime in America by David M. Gordon, such social deviance that plagues Doughboy and his friends and South Central L.A. in general can be explained using a particular framework of deviance called Conflict Theory.

Conflict Theory in terms of deviance explains that engaging in deviant behavior is an attempt to combat the unequal access to social and economic resources and opportunities enjoyed by those in power. Deviant behavior is not innate to human nature; rather it is the result of social conditions. Though the story is entirely fictional, the living conditions of South Central L.A. depicted in the movie is more or less factual as South Central L.A. in reality is notorious for its urban decay and rampant street crime. South Central is considered by many the epitome of gang violence and poverty in the city of Los Angeles, as it is the birthplace of many infamous African American gangs such as the "Bloods" and the "Crips" and an area synonymous with low-income minorities.

Already plagued with the sounds of Mac-11s riddling the neighborhoods of Crenshaw and the prevalent bright lights from the helicopters patrolling at night, many African Americans find it extremely difficult to escape such grim conditions in a society based on capitalism. Those in power in a capitalist society, usually the affluent, further such conditions to ensure that the wealthy remain in power. Capitalist societies are dependent on "competitive forms of social and economic interaction and upon substantial inequalities in the allocation of social resources" (Gordon 112). Because of the inequalities working against African Americans in a capitalist society, economic security is not guaranteed. Often many African Americans in South Central L.A. are forced to compete, as they must "fend for themselves, finding the best available opportunities to provide for themselves and their families" (Gordon 112). Unfortunately many of these opportunities involve deviant behavior in the form of crimes through gang affiliations. Deviant behavior in this example is not an innate behavior of African Americans living in South Central but rather a perfectly rational response to the various social and economic inequalities reinforced by a capitalist society. However it is important to note that the people in power are the ones who label such actions as deviant behavior while many African Americans living in South Central see it as a means of survival.

Gordon in Capitalism, Class, and Crime in America on page 113 furthers Conflict theory in relation to the ghetto residents by explaining that the "legitimate jobs open to many ghetto residents, especially to young black males, typically pay low wages, offer relatively demeaning assignments, and carry the constant risk of layoff." However many crimes available to the ghetto economically provides a better way to achieve a higher social status. In relation to the movie, Doughboy and the rest of his friends with the exception of his friend Tre and his brother Ricky resorted to a life of crime, selling crack cocaine as a result of the lack of social and economic opportunities available to them. Because of the negligence and the lack of parental guidance from his mother and the absence of a father figure, Doughboy had no role model to guide him on the path of being a productive member of society.

Early in the movie, the audience gets an early glimpse of Doughboy's deviant behavior when he was caught shoplifting with Chris. The audience later discovered that Doughboy was sent to prison resulting from an unexplained crime when the movie fast-forwards seven years later. His prison sentence is one of the critical reasons for the lack of social and economic opportunities to better his status legally. On page 117 of Capitalism, Class, and Crime in America, Gordon explains that the system of crime and punishment serves "ultimately

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