Dismissed by the police as mere adjuncts to or gofers for male gangs, girl gang members are in fact often as emotionally closed off and dangerous as their male counterparts. Carrying razor blades in their mouths and guns in their jackets for defense, they initiate drive-by shootings, carry out car jackings, stomp outsiders who stumble onto or dare to enter the neighborhood, viciously retaliate against other gangs and ferociously guard their home turf.
But Sikes also captures the differences that distinguish girl gangs-abortion, teen pregnancy and teen motherhood, endless beatings and the humiliation of being forced to have sex with a lineup of male gangbangers during initiation, haphazardly raising kids in a household of drugs and guns with a part-time boyfriend off gangbanging himself. Veteran journalist Gini Sikes spends a year in the ghettos following the lives of several key gang members in South Central Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Milwaukee. In 8 Ball Chicks, we discover the fear and desperate desire for respect and status that drive girls into gangs in the first place--and the dreams and ambitions that occasionally help them to escape the catch-22 of their existence.
About Gini Sikes
Gini Sikes, a former senior writer at Mademoiselle, was a producer for PBS's national weekly series on urban teenagers, "In the Mix." She has written about youth culture and crime for The Washington Post, Glamour, Vibe, Mirabella, and MTV. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
"What stays with the reader is the fear and despair that lie at the bottom of these girls' seeming hearts of stone...Sikes's generous reporting gives voice to young women...who think they must pass through violence on the road to self respect."--Elle
"Describes an American landscape as strange and harrowing and important as any I know of. Gini Sikes is a fearless witness."--Alec Wilkinson, author of A Violent Act
"Two scenes in 8 Ball Chicks are particularly poignant. In one, Sikes meets an 18-year-old killer and gang leader, Gat Man, the boyfriend of one of her female contacts. Gat Man wants to take the author on a drive-by and when she declines he believes her reluctance must be due to fear of arrest. 'When I tried to explain that I couldn't contribute to someone's death or injury...he gazed, blank-faced, unable to comprehend my point.'
In the other scene, Sikes is driving with gang wannabe Droopy, joking that Droopy better not get them into trouble because Sikes couldn't run or fight:
'She sat up in her seat, suddenly serious. "Get out of here!"
"I wouldn't know what to do if someone hit me."
Confusion spread across her features. "Well..." She hesitated. "What do you do when someone comes up and hits you?"
"Nobody ever had," I told her.
"For real?" She turned her expectant brown eyes upon me. "For real?"'
And that's what I was saying to myself throughout this book, cocooned in my own violence-free, choice-filled life..is this 'FOR REAL?' Unfortunately, it seems that it is."--from a review by BookpgXena, for THE BOOK REPORT