Sudhir Venkatesh

Sudhir Venkatesh, a rogue sociologist is the author of the book, “Gang Leader for a Day” (2008), talks about real life experiences that he encountered while he participated in a questionnaire project that took place in Chicago. Venkatesh was from a middle-class family that lived in California that had a very slight education when it came to the black culture within Chicago. Sudhir, was studying how to better understand how it felt to be black and poor, he goes to these rough housing projects.

His intentions were to interview and gain more knowledge of an insight into these families, and then head back home, but that was not the case at all. Mr. Venkatesh was looking for a specific building, Robert Taylor homes. As soon as someone saw him they treated him poorly, and lightly threatened him. They wanted to know why he was there and where asking him questions, just in case he was a spy. They kept called him a Mexican, because of the way he looked. He ends up finding himself being around, “The Black Kings”, a gang from Chicago where he eventually comes across this man name J.T, a drug dealer born and raised in the projects, held a lot of power within that gang.

J.T lets him shadow him around, so the next day he shows up carrying beer for the guys. Sudhir observes him, and he shows him his perspective on how he lives. Sudhir meets a women name Ms. Bailey, through J.T, who is a community coordinator and oversaw Robert Taylor homes. She shows him how much of an impact she has within that community, by helping single mothers with clothing, food, sometimes free checkups. Ms. Bailey also gets a cut of the gangs business, so he also saw how politicians too could be in on it, they also were as a little crooked for her own well being.

Many people warmed up to him after he stood around them for a while. He meets different types of people, prostitutes, he spectates different crimes. J.T rans three building and made money in different ways. The gang always found ways of collecting their money, they had prostitutes live in the building but most of time had to pay for fees, but they had protection from the Black Kings. J.T gave Mr. Venkatesh the ok that was able to be the gang leader for a day.

He soon realized how difficult it was to run a gang smoothly. How different “jobs” they had you could make more than others. He been around many meetings where the different gangs would communicate and talk about the problems and how they were able to solve them, he realized that gangs made an impact for the community. Throughout the book he talks about how he got to see the inner workings of how it was to apart of hustling and what they have to go through. Sudhir Venkatesh made it known that he hustled in the projects of Chicago. J.T started to not make as much money as he once did, and it was increasingly started disappearing. Throughout the end of the book The City of Chicago ends up knocking down Robert Taylor Homes after he was done with his research.

The author captures the time where he was s gang leader for a day. As he is going through this change, he would have a different way of understanding how people live in poverty. He educates the readers by talking about how gang, “The Black Kings” is there to make sure the community is taken care of. Being in a gang is like a business, how they were able to survive with little to no money. Many of members would play a part of activities with the elderly, as well as making sure the children were in good standings in school. If some of the young teens were in the gang and were not being well, they would have consequences. Ms. Bailey was an important factor within the community, having powerful people that have somewhat better communication with the gang members are able to have a better understanding with how they are able to have a functional community.