This is a sample dissertation chapter (example) on Asian Gangs:
All throughout the cities of America the urban population has experienced gang activity and gang violence. This is nothing new. The existence of street gangs in this country has existed for many generations. Gangs have been around since the 1950s and early 1960s. Gangs are a loosely organized group of three or more people who interact together for a common purpose and usually participate in some kind of illegal activity, whether it be violent crimes or drug dealing or both. In the United States in the past years it has been African-American gangs that seem to get much of the media attention. Gangs like the Crips and the Bloods get much notice and are often glorified in rap songs. Hispanic gangs also get a large amount of publicity. The movie “Colors” with Robert Duval and Sean Penn was a big hit in the 80’s. However, in the past years the prevalence of Asian gangs has increased (Kodluboy, 1996). Communities and law enforcement as well as most parents would obviously like to see an end to gangs and illegal gang activities. However in order to do that many things need to be understood. Mainly why do youths join gangs? How do they recruit new members and from where? Also, what activities or crimes do they participate in? The answers to these questions differ for different ethnic gangs. Therefore, the methods used to stop gang proliferation will more than likely differ depending on whether the gang is Asian, Hispanic, White or African-American. This dissertation will address some of the reasons for the existence of Asian gangs as well as contrast some of the many differences between Asian and other ethnic gangs.
One rather large difference of Asian gangs is the fact that they are often actively connected to a homeland. “The largest and oldest Asian crime group around the country are Chinese, which breaks down into three categories: triads, tongs, and street gangs” (Thompson, 1995). Triads and tongs often operate between the U.S. and other Asian countries like mainland China or Taiwan. Furthermore, the Yakuza (Japanese mafia-type organization) also operate in the United States. This international connection opens the door to a lot of illegal trade and money to be made. “Triads are enduring, secret societies born of the political turmoil in China during the 1600s. Modern-day triads are generally viewed by police as criminal organizations (Kodluboy, 1996). Triads are best known for trafficking herion and opium as well as smuggling Chinese immigrants into the country. U.S. officials estimate that up to 100,000 Chinese are illegally smuggled into the country each year (Brunker, 1997). Mike Brunker, of MSNBC, claims that triads are, “As diversified as the biggest multinational conglomerate. Among their other activities are arms smuggling, credit-card fraud, counterfeiting, software piracy, prostitution, gambling, loansharking, white-collar crime, home-invasion robbery, high-tech theft and trafficking in endangered animals and plants” (Brunker, 1997). It is not difficult to see a large difference between these Asian gang activities compared to some “Bloods” fighting over a street corner in Compton, California. It is not just the Chinese tongs or the Japanese Yakuza that have such intricate international ties. Brunker claims that there are countless other smaller groups from Taiwan, North and South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, the Philippines and elsewhere. It is obvious that these gangs ties to their homeland are important factors to the “well-being” of their existence. Therefore, trying to stop their illegal activities in the U.S. could become an international battle.
After seeing some of the various activities of many of these Asian gangs, it should be no surprise why many Asian youth join gangs. There is a lot of fast and easy money to be made. But there are other reasons besides a “quick buck” that Asian youths join gangs. Irving Spergel, a sociologist, has done a lot of research on gangs. He has identified various factors that have contributed to the development of Asian youth gangs. Spergel claims that the expansion of immigration Quotas during the 1960s and 1970s perpetuated the influx of Asian immigrants and refugees into the U.S. In some cases, immigrant youths formed their own distinctive ethnic gangs or they became integrated into older established gangs” (1995). Spergel’s first factor is supported by the fact that a large influx of immigration caused the formation of Vietnamese gangs which developed after 1975 when about 500,000 Vietnamese immigrants came to the U.S. after the Vietnam War (Thompson, 1995). But that does not really explain why these Asians are joining gangs. The “why” is found more in Spergel’s next factor. Spergel points out that there is “social isolation” of new Asian immigrants and tension between different ethnic groups. Spergel suggests that some Asian youths join gangs for defense and protection from the hostility of other already established gangs (Spergel, 1995). Another reason that Asian youths join gangs is that there is often conflicting values in the Asian American household. Also, Asian kids feel neglected both at home and in school (Lau, 1992). Many teenagers are immigrants or from immigrant parents who are struggling to survive in the U.S., which leaves very little time for parental involvement and discipline. It is these poorly supervised teenagers who often end up becoming affiliated with gangs (Kodluboy, 1996).
Other than the Asian youths who seek to become part of a gang, there are also those who are recruited and in some cases maybe even forced into gangs. One of the practices of some Asian gangs is smuggling immigrants into the United States. There is a large demand for passage to the U.S. The methods of the smugglers are usually to get as many heads aboard a ship as they can. For example, in the case of the Manyoshi Maru 160 Chinese from the Fujian province were packed like sardines for 43 days before being rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard ship (when the Manyoshi Maru started sinking off the coast of California). It is speculated that “snakeheads” (triad smugglers) are responsible for many smuggling cases such as this (“New”, 1993). Furthermore, INS agents believe that 5 percent of people arriving in this fashion are triad recruits (“New”,1993). The triads exploit the Chinese desire for a better life by charging extremely high prices for entry into theU.S. The average person that is smuggled pays 3,000 dollars down with the promise of the balance (around 27,000 dollars more) upon arrival (“New”, 1993). If they even make it to the U.S. many work in sweatshops, end up in prostitution, or even join Asian gangs (“New”,1993).
Other than cases like the Manyoshi Maru, Asian gang activities do not seem to make it to the media nearly as much as other ethnic gangs. “Only about 10 percent of Asian crimes are reported to the newspapers, and even less in mainstream papers” (Ku, 1993). There are several possibilities of why this is true. One reason is that out of all youths involved in gangs, Asians comprise between 1.6% and 2.2% respectively (Spergel, 1995). If there are less Asian gangs than other ethnic gangs then it stands to reason that there would be less media attention. However, the accuracy of these statistics is uncertain. Furthermore, these statistics also count Asians that are in “mixed” ethnic gangs. “Mixed” ethnic gangs, also called “grainbow” gangs contain members of different ethnic backgrounds and cannot be considered an “Asian” gang. Another important factor is the fact that many Asian gangs tend to be far more secretive than other ethnic gangs (Ronquillo, 1997). Typical Asian youth gangs are less interested in status, honor or reputation; (which attract much media attention) they are more involved in criminal gain and money-making activities (Ronquillo, 1997). Also, the media cannot cover what it does not know about. Most Asian crimes go unreported because the Asian community does not trust the police (Lau, 1992). Asian gangs use this to their advantage by continuing to prey on people new to the United States. Many of these people are from countries with corrupt, militaristic police and government organizations. Furthermore, many Asians do not trust non-Asians and the majority of police forces are non-Asian (Lau, 1992).
The activities of Asian gangs that do make it to the news are often of a larger scale than the activities of other ethnic gangs (such as a poorly planned drive-by). One reason for this is the fact that most “organized” Asian gangs such as a triad do not usually practice senseless acts of violence without a worthwhile motive. Meaning that they do not usually participate in “drive-by shootings” for the simple act of getting “respect” or reclaiming their “turf”. For example, throughout most of 1991 the Wo Hop To and the Wah Ching (two triads fighting for control of the Bay area) waged war on each other. Yet, the media reports that “at least five people on both sides were gunned down before the Wah Ching finally broke under pressure” (“New”, 1993). As unfortunate as this may be, the average “Crip” or “Blood” could quite possibly accrue this amount of killing in one or two drive-bys. And that’s for control of a neighborhood in Compton, not the entire Bay area. This is more than likely a reason why Asian gangs are heard of less frequently in the media than many other ethnic gangs.
Nevertheless, as long as there is a demand for drugs, pirated software, prostitution, illegal entry into the country and the various other things that many Asian gangs are involved in, there will be Asian gangs, as well as other ethnic gangs. Gangs have been around for over half a century in the United States and longer in other countries. It is doubtful that they will disappear anytime soon. It seems that some of the main differences in Asian gangs versus many other ethnic gangs is the fact that they are often better organized, have a hierarchical network often tied to a homeland. Furthermore, they are usually more interested in making profit than gaining respect and are more secretive which keeps them out of the media more than other ethnic gangs. According to Olivia Lau, Asian gangs get ignored because they are not “particularly overt” in their actions. Lau also claims that only the Asian communities can fix the problems associated with Asian gang activity (Lau, 1992). It is clearly beneficial to educate and warn the potential clients of smugglers as well as Asian immigrants already in the U.S. of the tactics of many of these gangs. If gang activities cannot be eliminated entirely then maybe communities can at least stop the extortion and exploitation of these immigrants.
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