Blue Rage, Black Redemption
When his L.A. neighborhood was threatened by gangbangers, Stanley Tookie Williams and a friend formed the Crips, but what began as protection became worse than the original gangs. From deadly street fights with their rivals to drive-by shootings and stealing cars, the Crips' influence -- and Tookie's reputation -- began to spread across L.A. Soon he was regularly under police surveillance, and, as a result, was arrested often, though always released because the charges did not stick. But in 1981, Tookie was convicted of murdering four people and was sent to death row at San Quentin in Marin County, California.
Tookie maintained his innocence and began to work in earnest to prevent others from following his path. Whether he was creating nationwide peace protocols, discouraging adolescents from joining gangs, or writing books, Tookie worked tirelessly for the rest of his life to end gang violence. Even after his death, his legacy continues, supported by such individuals as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Snoop Dogg, Jesse Jackson, and many more.
This posthumous edition of Blue Rage, Black Redemption features a foreword by Tavis Smiley and an epilogue by Barbara Becnel, which details not only the influence of Tookie's activism but also her eyewitness account of his December 2005 execution, and the inquest that followed.
By turns frightening and enlightening, Blue Rage, Black Redemption is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and an invaluable lesson in how rage can be turned into redemption.
Reading Group Guide
The following questions serve as a foundation for your exploration of Blue Rage, Black Redemption.
1. What are your initial impressions of the author's style, tone of voice, and perspective? How does he manage to capture and hold your interest in his story? Do you trust his retelling? Why or why not? How does Stanley's use of foreshadowing affect your reading of his story?
2. Although Stanley is quick to defend his mother and acknowledges her love for him, he believes that he and his mother's mindsets about the world and the best way to live life differ and are in conflict. How would you characterize Stanley and his mother's views? How do they develop? Can you foresee a middle ground between their perspectives? Do you gravitate toward one more than the other? Explain.
3. Stanley's mother sought to help her son adjust to life in South Central Los Angeles in a number of ways. Identify the strategies she took. Why are her methods unsuccessful in changing Stanley's troublesome behavior? Why does Stanley believe her efforts failed? Can you envision other methods that may have been more successful to help deter Stanley from the gang life he followed?
4. What does Stanley mean by the term "dys-education"? Who or what provides opportunities for dys-education?
5. What are Stanley's initial perspectives on gangs? What strategies does he employ to deal with gangs? How and when did his view of gangs begin to change? 6 see more