Marvin said to James, “Yo, my dude, you got to let these niggas know who the fuck you are.”
“For real,” said Bishop. He took another pull from the blunt and passed it back to Marvin.
Bishop started coughing from the weed and Marvin said, “The fuck? You’s a pussy ass nigga, bro.”
“Nah,” said Bishop. “This that shit.”
James had been silent but finally said, “I don’t know. I never shot nobody before.”
“That’s ’cause you a bitch,” said Bishop.
Marvin passed the blunt to James. James looked at the blunt, but he was thinking about what Bishop had just said to him. James was angry.
“The fuck you gonna do, pussy ass?” said Bishop. “You ain’t gone do shit.”
James worked himself up and said, “You the bitch,” and then James slapped Bishop upside his head. Nobody expected that because James was 15 and new to the gang. Bishop was 17, and Marvin was 21.
“Oh, shit!” said Marvin.
“Motha fucka,” said Bishop.
Bishop sprung up and hit James with the mack and kicked him several times. After that James was bleeding and hurt, sprawled out on the floor. Standing over James, Bishop said, “Pussy ass nigga.” He was about to hit him again, but Marvin said,
“Yo, chill. That lil’nigga stood up for hisself. That’s real nigga shit right there.”
Bishop picked up the blunt from the floor and sat back down. His knuckles were hurting from hitting James about the face. Bishop considered what Marvin said. “Word to. That nigga stood up for hisself. You good, lil’nigga. Get ya ass up.”
Here was the deal. This motha fucka from across town, Roland had been disrespecting the MOA’s. That’s Money Over All. Marvin was Big Homie of MOA. Bishop was the underboss. James was a 15-year-old street kid that was looking to be a part of something. He had been recruited. He was a young kid out in the streets looking for action. Marvin and Bishop saw what they could do with this kid and drew up a plan which had James shooting Roland with a gun, killing him, an assassination attempt. After killing Roland, James would have status in the MOA gang. If James killed Roland, he was valid. If James did not, he was pussy. What should he do? Could he go on living while his homies called him pussy? To be called a coward was the worst thing that James could imagine. Worse than going to jail. Besides, he was too young to go to jail, right?
“Listen, lil’ nigga,” said Marvin, “you ain’t going to no fuckin’ jail. You 15 my dude. They can’t do nothin’ to you. They gonna send you to Crossroads? Horizon? That ain’t shit lil’ man. That juvenile shit is trash. It’s nothin’.”
“Word,” said Bishop. “And this bitch, the motha fuckin bitch Roland, he talkin’ wild shit, my man. This right here is an opportunity for you to earn your stripes, to bust a cap in this niggas ass.”
James smoked the weed and drank from the bottle until he believed the shit that Marvin and Bishop were telling him.
“Fuck that nigga Bishop,” said James. “Who the fuck he think he is!”
Bishop took James to a place to practice. The gun was old, rusty, and dirty, a 9mm that had been on the streets for a long time. Bishop acted like he knew all about guns, but he didn’t know nearly as much as he let on. He showed James how to load the magazine, insert the clip, and chamber a round. Then bishop aimed at a target and fired the weapon. It was loud. Bishop gave the gun to James and said,
“Just like you pointing a finger.”
“What?” said James.
“Like if you was pointing out somebody?” said Bishop, “You don’t think about it, you know? You just point. That’s how you aim. Just look hard at the nigga you wanna blast and point the gun, like your finger, and blast that shit.”
James tried to shoot, but when he squeezed the trigger, nothing happened. The gun had jammed. James said, “It’s not working,” and then curiously pointed the barrel of the pistol at his face and looked down the barrel, finger still on the trigger.
“The fuck!” Bishop pushed the gun away and said, “The fuck you doin’?! You wanna shoot yourself?”
“It didn’t work.”
“But nothing happened.”
“You a dumbass, for real.”
Bishop showed James what he did when the gun jammed. He took the clip out, ejected the chambered round, re-inserted the bullet back in the magazine, pulled back the slide. He handed the gun back to James and told him never to point the weapon at himself. Sometimes the gun jammed and there is nothing you can do but go through the process. Bishop did not know how to break the gun down and clean it properly. He didn’t even know what kind of supplies to use for cleaning a weapon properly. But this did not stop Bishop from acting like he knew everything, and was a big hustler in the streets. Such was the level of intelligence among youthful street warriors.
The day finally arrived. James had the gun and waited outside the shop where Roland was to exit at any moment. Bishop and Marvin had made sure to get James a little smacked so he would be fucked up enough to go through with this tragedy. Gun in hand, hand under clothing, James eyed the door, keeping himself worked up. Roland exited the shop. James pulled out the gun, which was already cocked, pointed and fired. The adrenalin took over, and James ran up on Roland and shot him 6 times. The gun did not jam. James killed Roland. James ran, James got away.
James was picked up by the cops two weeks later. Everybody snitched. James did not even know what Roland had said, exactly, to warrant his death. James just wanted to be somebody. He just wanted to be like the image that was in his head, this badass gangsta street hustler. He was trying to live up to the hype. Now he was in jail for murder. Now he would begin to learn the laws and rules governing the city. Now he would be in jail and the court system and begin to learn how things worked. Would he commit to being a gangster? Keep looking up to guys like Bishop and Marvin?
Now he is in youth detention and has status as an MOA gangster. He has to live up to his reputation, right? If he wises up, does that make him a coward?
It’s a question that depends on perspective.
What is peer pressure?
What is perspective?
How would James’s perspective be different from the perspective of a teacher?
Have you ever experienced peer pressure?
Have you ever pressured others, more vulnerable people?
Have you ever been pressured by others who you look up to?
How can peer pressure negatively impact someone’s life?
How could it positively impact someone’s life?
What should James do now?