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Rules of Engagement -- Black Versus Brown in High School

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary, Elliot McGregor Posted: May 15, 2006

EDITOR'S NOTE:To be safe you have to claim a team and the teams are Mexican and Black, says a young man about the recent black-brown fights in his former high school. McGregor, 16, is a writer and video producer for YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

SAN LEANDRO, Calif.--There are big fights between blacks and Mexicans at my high school every year -- probably every year for the past six in a row.

This year, in the last week of April, 30 black and Mexican students got in a brawl at lunchtime in the quad. The police were called in and 10 students were arrested. Later, there was another fight in the parking lot. They brought in police and shut the school down the next day.

This is nothing new. Last year, when I attended the school me and my patna kept the tradition going.

I really think this stuff happens more at school because school is boring. And I know that this race stuff is all dumb and ignorant, but when you are bored at school and it's the only thing that looks fun - you might just as well join in.

The reason I participated was because I know I have to get down with the black people because I'm black and that's just the rules. I was also involved because my patna was in it, and I gotta have his back regardless, because he would havemine.

A group of students -- some of who were my friends -- wanted to stir things up.They told me and my patnas to go to the table where all the Mexicans hung out at lunch and knock one of them out. So, not being scared to do whatever, me and my patnas made a plan.

We figured my patna would single out one Mexican to beat on first and then we would all jump in after that. So, da patna went over and knocked the first Mexican out. Then my other patna followed, hitting the guy with solid hits when he was on the ground. But then security was on us, so I just told them to stop and we walked off.

Later that day, my two patnas got sent home because someone had snitched on them. When they came back, after their suspension was up, I told them I heard who had snitched. We walked around thes chool and found the person I thought did it. When we asked him about it, he said it wasn't him. But we were heated because we knew it was a Mexican who told. So we started stuff back up because we felt like it was not over.

The word was passed around and later that day, a patna of ours ended up getting into a fight with a Mexican. I don't know what the exact reason was - but it didn't matter. After the two students fought, this Mexican cat started talking hella s-t. My patna and I start talking s-t back. A teacher dragged my patna away, the Mexican thought he was safe and tried to walk away with the teacher but I turned him around and gave him a quitter. He hit the floor and once that happened, it was a rap.

During this time there were hella fights going on with blacks and Mexicans. Then these fights turned into all-the-students vs. school security thing. But it all died down because the police came through and started arresting those who'd been slammed and restrained.

I knew this little race riot had been going on for years, but I was surprised when it started again this year. My friends that still go to San Leandro High told me it started when some black kids jumped this Mexican and some Mexicans came to help and then security broke it up. So this time the Mexicans felt like it wasn't over and they started it up the next day. I also heard that the first fight was just between two people, with no one else jumping in. The next day, this black kid got hit with a bottle and he got so fired up he decided he was going to go beat on whichever Mexican he saw first. Security snatched him up and then people just started going dumb.

The thing is, I don't hate Mexican people. I wouldn't really say I was racist against them. I think you can compare high school fights to prison fights. If there was a prison riot, there would be three different teams: white, black and Mexican. A similar thing is going on at my school. The Mexicans don't really associate with the black people or any other race - it's like they believe they are in a gang of some kind.

The black people that claim they're from Oakland, don't associate with no one except those that say they're from Oakland. If something big does go down, to be safe you have to claim a team and the teams are Mexican or black.

If you are gonna be cool, you have to be on a team and do something to get recognition. If you're from Oakland and you don't get down, you are considered a sucker to most people that participate.

To me these fights are about one race thinking they're harder than the other. My Mexican patna told me that Mexicans don't hang with black people because black people think they're hella hard. Well, I think black people feel the same about Mexicans and that just might be because of how they act towards us. So, it's like you have to prove yourself when being away from your hood by being able to get down for your race and your town.

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People of Color are All One? Latino Inmates in L.A. Dont Think So

Scrapin' While Stayin' Out -- The Beat Within Video Diaries

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