Literary Analysis Essay on Renegade Dreams by Lawrence Ralph

Published: 2021-06-25
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University of Richmond
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Renegades Dream by Lawrence Ralph is an ethnography study that focuses on living in Eastwood. The central theme of the book is living with an injury in gangland. Lawrence, therefore, uses various anthropological perspectives to elaborate on his central theme of injury. He uses Renegades dream of implying the inspiration that a victim goes through to find out the possibilities through the sustained injury. It means that there is always hope even in despair. Basing on Ralph interactions in the fieldwork, dreams assumes various meaning in his work. Ralph links "Renegade dream" to social activism. He bases his argument on former American leaders, such as Martin Luther King's quote, " I have a dream" and the recent one being the Obama's father insightful memoir "Dreams of my father" that led him to presidential victory. The positive character of the author strengthens the hope of the black Chicagoans to keep dreaming. The author doesn't demoralize as a result of injury but rather motivates to come out of the injuries gang-stricken land. Lawrence uses empathy, to get into the underneath of the injuries of the Eastwoodians, he says, "through the eyes of Eastwoodians, I saw how the injury could be crippling, but could also become a potential, an engine, a generative force that propelled new trajectories." In fact, the Ralph says, "despite the statistical odds against their dreams coming to fruition in such a context, I foreground the resilience it takes for black Chicagoans to keep dreaming anyway." it means that it is a high time for African American to reimage their lives by inventing the best future. In this context, Lawrence aim was to show the injury of isolation, detailing on how to dream like a renegade.

The author describes the scope of injury beyond the physical realm in his fieldwork and ethnography. He finds injury in the community by the death of those who fall victim to the inner city violence including the gang members and non-gang members. He also saw injury caused by the government to curb inner city violence. For instance, the view of the local government was negative. They believe "the area was "doomed to failure" because residents lacked the necessary skills and qualifications to secure livable wages" (Ralph 10).Additionally; Ralph saw the injury that is caused by diseases and disability in the lives of Eastwoodians. According to Ralph fieldwork intelligence "People did not merely speak of injury regarding gunshot wounds. Longtime residents saw injury in the dilapidated houses that signaled a neighborhood in disrepair. Gang leaders saw injury in the "uncontrollable" young affiliates who, according to them, symbolized a gang in crisis. Disillusioned drug dealers saw injury in the tired eyes of their peers who imagined a future beyond selling heroin, and health workers saw damage in diseases like HIV and the daily rigors of pain and pill management that the disease required" (Ralph 5).

Lawrence research follows the emic approach in anthropology. He shows how it feels to be an outsider in Eastwood as a gangland. In his field research, Lawrence assumes a neutral position on his subjects, the Eastwoods. He does not name the notorious gang in the area but rather calls it a divine Knight, Neighborhood Coalition which is unusual alliance emerges in the development of his conceptual framework. Delivery Development Corporation acts as a community church that helps to rebuild the houses in the Eastwood. He also uses frank discussions to create a link between the internal city injury, the community, and the government. More so, the use nostalgia on social and historical process was a significant contribution to the development of the theme of injury. Instead of profiling the Chicagoans as an area with cultural indecencies as raised by many researchers in their work, renegade dream is a perfect reflection of how human beings struggle to survive in hostile environment. One of his fieldwork techniques is the use of stories that the gang talks about themselves. "Mr. Otis and gang members of his generation fail to acknowledge that the gang's latter-day embrace of the drug economy was not a simple matter of choice" (Ralph 66). The Knights shifted from involving in politics to the drug trade. It is true that the gang is changing from its original co-foundations to suit in the current world. He reveals competition that exists between rivalry gang groups ion receiving material gain upon their recruitment.

The author also uses authenticity to describe the group's culture and affiliation. "keeping it real," "rappers gain a different level of authenticity, or street cred if they understand the ins and outs of drug dealing. and if, as formerly marginalized youths turned public figures, they can speak to this crucial part of urban life"( Ralph 89). Lawrence, use the character of Tosh and Blizzard to explain their authenticity with the Divine Knight gang group and the community. Ralph in his fieldwork writes, "Tosh believes rappers ought to speak on behalf of a marginalized public, spinning gripping tales linked to an authentic street experience. And because Blizzard doesn't have a celebrated career as a gang member, in Tosh's opinion there's no way he can be a real [i.e. authentic] rapper" (105).

Lawrence Ralph also uses two model of disability in his conceptual framework, medical and social model. The medical model revolves around the physical injury and disability variation. The model shows a change in the functioning of the body as total incapacitation, debilitating and inherent disruptive of a person. For example, the ex-gang member relies on the medical model to show the damages of the gang violence (p.121). Ralph uses the Justine scenario in explaining the medical model. He says, "For members of racial groups who are prone to debilitation through gun violence, drawing attention to the broken body is a political act" (Ralph 130). On the other hand, social model believes that the physical injury leads to disability but rather ties the problem of damage to social construction. According to Ralph, impairment is not a primary cause of low social status.

The theory of isolation is significant in the work of Lawrence because it highlights effects of stereotyping. Ralph says, "The idea of the isolated ghetto has been indispensable as a way to capture a post-industrial moment of concentrated poverty" (170-171). Contrary to mass media, the black urbanite is not isolated, but rather it is linked to metropolitan, local government, national and international processes. For instance, transnational business activities operate across borders where companies shift their operations to countries with cheap labor. The concept of ghetto isolation deepens, as the author calls for a change of mass media culture about the ghetto life. He says, "Taking the time to tease out multiple interpretations of urban life" (Ralph 171).

Lawrence work also shades light on the disease and addiction in the inner city violence. He shows the resilience will consist of the renegades, in this case, HIV/AIDs exist among the Eastwoodians, but it has not taken advantage of them. The Eastwood church is a symbol of the Renegade will since it aims at reorganizing the infected and the addicts. Ralph states, "[Noel's] polished, vigorously rehearsed illness narrative becomes an asset for others" (160). Noel acts as a source of inspiration to the Eastwoodians, an attempt to reorient them to the world. In other works, the show of renegade will, serves as a solution to underlying theme renegade dreams, "living with an injury in gangland." The victims are over it hence they are not taken down by immobilization caused by the injury, even in the paraplegic circumstances 9 Ralph 180). The community is using the church to teach sex education such as abstinence and adherence to God's faith while the medical model provides an antiretroviral regimen for containing the spread of the HIV/AIDs disease from spreading to other members of the community.

Lawrence Ralph Renegades Dream Research Outcomes

Lawrence fieldwork did find out the life of Violence in Eastwood directly affects both people on a personal level as well as the whole community. Inner city violence affects the social functioning of the community. The young generation in gang affiliation is rampant in dealing with use and selling of illegal drugs such as heroin. Besides drug use, Lawrence also concludes that government intervention program and negligence in counteracting inner city violence has failed because the culture of the community takes center stage in containing the situation in their backyard. Another outcome of Lawrence work is that the Eastwood require a right passage to education, steady jobs with stable incomes, better housing conditions and access quality medical services. The Eastwood life faces many challenges such as stereotypes and prejudice amidst of the biggest problems facing them such as diseases and disability.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Lawrence Renegades Dreams Research

Lawrence, like many author-scholars in the field of African American literature, contributes significantly to the conceptual development in this area of study. He provides rich information about the struggle of marginalized black territories in overcoming the eminent injuries and long-term strategies to create a bright future. Unlike many scholars who profile the black urbanite as an inferior race in society and as well as the source of violence, Lawrence finds the vigor and optimism in the black urbanite to make a better living. More so, in his field work, he maintains a balance of his desire to keep the book practical to literal interpreters and draw in the concerns of the parties involved in the research. Ralph also keeps the actual dialogue of the interviewees; they spoke using an African American dialect hence helps to enhance the authenticity of the book to its audience. Use of African American native English rather than the standard American English maintains the nature of the ethnographic research.

The use of symbolism is significant in identifying the gang, according to Ralph, the use of the "cane" is a symbol associated to Divine Knight. The purpose of the logo is to compel the gang members to support one another in trying times. Hence, it promotes consciousness among the members.

The limitation o Lawrence fieldwork can be drawn basing on his choice not to name the gang group in Chicago. He uses the fictional name to represent the gang throughout the book. He does not even include visual reinforcement in his work as a form of hiding the identity of the gang and their affiliations. However, he provides enough information how the gang members have big dreams and ambitions in future out of their gang lifestyle.

However, Paul Stretesky, adds value to the literature of African American culture about gang violence. The central theme is gang socialization and identity. He uses three approaches in elaborating the scope of gang socialization and identity. First, he uses selection perspective to draw the attention on the characteristic of a new member willing to join the gang as a violent character. The use of social perspective categorize the gang member as being similar to the non-gang member before gang assimilation, and finally, enhancement view gives the explanation on the link between gang and crime. Just like the work of Lawrence, Paul uses qualitative research structure and interviewing technique to gather information about the prison inmates. The sample of his interviewees has demographics that are different including the Hispanics, Asians, and whites and black. This ethnography differs significantly with that of Lawrence despite contributing crucial information in African American literature and cultural anthropology.

It is interesting to compare the gang's culture in "Renegades dream" by La...

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