New York, as is the case with many urban centers across the country has been infiltrated by Bloods and Crips offshoots in the last decade, a situation that became increasingly prominent during my time away from the city from 1998-2003. When I returned home in 2003, it was unsettling hearing younger cousins talk about friends who professed to being down with the Bloods, and watching news broadcasts of raids occuring in Brooklyn.
When The Game came out in 2005 he professed to put the West Coast back on the map and help set the record straight, and in some ways he did. He's the anti-Ice Cube in the sense that Cube was the gangsta that Amerikkka was not ready for, while Game was the latest in the calvalcade that America has been perversely embracing. With Game's record contract came shoe endorsements, a movie deal, none of which could have materialized without a platinum selling album, and the transposition of the Bloods from the organization that Americans hated and feared to the one that became a common place marker for the expendability of black life, and the indiscriminate nature of consumerist appetites for entertainment.
Now, in 2007, filmmakers Antoine Fuqua and Cle "Bone" Sloan have done what rappers have failed to do in 17years, put LA gangs in their proper context. Bastards of the Party documents two organizations, the Bloods and Crips, that are as American as the Democrats and Republicans, Coke and Pepsi, Yankees and Red Sox, except rather than settle their battles with ballots, bottles or baseballs, they do it with bullets. Bastards of the Party is a narrative about forty years of political disenfranchisement that stretches from the tail end of the Vietnam War to the current war in Iraq, a time period that also features the dramatic historical markers known as the Cold War, Iran-Contra, Apartheid and now Darfur.
It's an incredibly moving experience told through a cinematic lens as eloquently honest as a Morrison novel, and just as brutally vulnerable. Sloan's vision is not that of the outsider, but rather the insider. Like all great narrators he's the soldier that survived the war, the death camp and in return for escaping the grave, he's offered a medium through which to tell his story. Watching the documentary you'll notice that he's not as much offered a medium, but rather called up or haunted upon to bring this story to life.
In a generation that has long lived on the false dreams that Biggie or Tupac may have been the next Malcolm or Martin, Cle Sloan has come along to give us hope yet again, not that these slain civil rights leades will be revived, but instead that someone, somewhere will again show an appreciation for black life. This film asks if not now, when? If not Darfur, Haiti, then how about Compton? If not reform our schools, our streets, then how about our prisons?
I urge everyone to check their local listings to see Bastards of the Party, because as the documentary grimly implies, as each passes, so do the lives of the men and women seeking nothing else except survival.