SM readers that have been with us since the beginning know that I am always inspired to blog about some unique topic after I have gone to get a haircut. In fact, one
Jail officials in Los Angeles County separated black and Hispanic inmates, began transferring troublemakers and brought in clergy to try to restore peace after a week of racially charged brawls that they feared would continue to erupt through the weekend.
“It’s got momentum,” sheriff’s Chief Marc Klugman, who oversees the nation’s largest jail system, said yesterday. “They’re battle-hardened. They’re angry.”
Thousands of Hispanics and blacks clashed Feb. 4, and a black inmate was beaten to death, at the biggest jail at the Pitchess Detention Center, a 6,500-inmate complex outside the city limits. Brawls then broke out during the week at the two smaller jails at Pitchess. About 90 inmates have been injured. [Link]
My barber, who has spent time in the joint, broke it down for me: Latinos and Blacks try to kill each other. Whites usually join the Latinos because they don’t fit with the Blacks. Asian brothers get shanked unless they keep their heads down and stay among themselves. If the Koreans ever do business outside of K-town then they are dead on arrival. Even worse, if you are Latino or Black and don’t want to join in the violence, your own people will shank you for not standing up for your brothers. Now, I know what you are all thinking right now. So I asked for you:
“Ummm. What about the Indian brothers? Where do they fit in this system?”
“You guys? Yo, sorry bro but you guys get your ass passed around. You know what I mean”? Yes, I knew what he meant. This threw cold water on one of my long held fantasies. I have always considered myself a social chameleon. I can become friends with almost any group of people. I am a pretty friendly guy, and very non-judgemental, so making friends has always been quite easy for me. I always thought that if I was ever thrown into the pen to serve hard time (possibly for blog-related activities), then I would be an Andy Dufresne type. I could imagine myself being the noble small-framed prisoner, thrown in with the hardened criminals. My friendly smile and quick wit would buy me protection, and my faith in my innocence would give me hope. I could even see myself sneaking into the warden’s office to play some music for my fellow inmates (although not MIA for sure). All of these delusions vanished the instant that my barber told me that “they’d pass my ass around.” If even street poet Tupac Shakur (possibly) got his ass passed around in the California prison system, then what could my words, those of a mere blogger, prevent?
I realized that this is the reason that there aren’t more South Asians in U.S. prisons. It isn’t because we are a model minority that doesn’t feel the urge to break the law. I certainly occasionally do. It also isn’t because the death penalty is serving its supposed role as a deterrence. No. South Asian brothers, for the most part, keep their noses clean because they know that in a U.S. prison they will be nothing more than currency to barter with. I can now guarantee you that I will never go to the big house. Never.
As I left the barber shop I was actually a bit sad. I now knew that the phrase “vatos locos forever” was no longer something I could utter with confidence.