Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Terms I Use

13 or XIII - Symbol of the Surenos gangs that was adopted from the Mexican Mafia. M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Almost all West Coast style Latino gangs that aren't Nortenos use this number to identify themselves.

14 or XVI -
Symbol of the Nortenos gangs that evolved out of the California prison system. N is the 14th letter of the alphabet and stands for Nuestra Familia. The NF prison gang members were primarily rural, Northern California Latinos who were being victimized in the prison system by the Surenos gang members and the Mexican Mafia.

Brown Pride gangs - Non-Surenos or Nortenos affiliated cholo-style Latino gangs that use the color brown to identify. They may or may not use the number 13, but will almost always use slogans like "Brown Pride" or BP.

Chicano/chicana - U.S. born person of Mexican descent.

Cholo
/chola - An old school Chicano gang member from Los Angeles (but cholo style gangs are now found around the U.S.).

Dickies - A brand of uniform pants popular with cholos, girls and guys. They're usually bought oversized, and pleated up using a cloth or leather belt to hold them low around the hips. Cholos usually buy them in khaki, black, brown and dark blue. They keep them immaculately pressed with sharp creases.

G-Nikes - Nike Cortez running shoes that are extremely popular with cholo-style gangsters. They are sold in nylon in a number of colors (black, brown, red, blue...convenient, eh?) and also in white leather. The gang members I worked with were very proud of their shoes. They kept their white leather g-nikes so damn clean, they practically glowed.

Gringa - White girl (generally stupid and know-nothing about all things street).

Guero/Guera (pronounced "Weddo" or "Wedda") - A very fair-complected Latino (or sometimes, a gringo/gringa).

Mi Vida Loca: Translated literally, my crazy life. Tattooed as three dots, to represent the three words, it's the penultimate cholo tattoo. It's a life of drama, drunkenness, gunshots at 2 a.m., stealing beer from a convenience store, watching your back. It's cars creeping slowly down your street, lights off, waiting to catch you slipping. It's writing your graffiti on a wall, and running from the cops who almost caught you. It's 18 with a bullet: crazy, short, and fatal.

Respect: A gang member's reputation is everything. A kid I know did a series of drive-by shootings. The police impounded his car but were unable to catch him. He started using his bicycle, and doing bike-by shootings. Crazy, right? Exactly the point. That kid, he might do anything. He might open fire in a crowded downtown mall, just to hit some punk. He's someone to fear because he's loco, loc'd out, insane in the membrane. Respect and fear mean the same thing on the streets. Show weakness, and you become prey. Gang members choose to be predators.

Slippin: Letting your guard down, getting caught, dying because you were too stupid to watch your back.

Smile now, cry later. It means: I'm going to do what I need to do now, I'm going to laugh today in the sun, because tomorrow, I may be dead. I'm going to drink and dance, because a year from now, I may be locked up, doing time. I'm going to hold onto life with my hands clenched, digging my fingernails in, because life is short, and full of grief and pain. I'm going to put a smiling face on today, and I'm going to do what needs to be done, and tomorrow, when I have time, I'll cry about how much things suck. It's a battle cry, an affirmation, a stiff upper lip. This idea is often represented by two masks, one smiling, and the other crying. You see it in tattoos, doodles, prison art, and graffiti.





Surenos
- Type of gangs that originated in Southern California starting back in the 1940s with White Fence. These gangs are typically composed of Latinos, and gang bang cholo-style. A lot of what we think about as symbols of modern street gang culture originated with these guys...the sagging pants, the old-English style lettering, the 3-dots tattoo, the Smile Now, Cry Later faces/symbolism, the prison tattoos used by a lot of the other gang sets these days. Surenos use the letters SUR and the number 13 to identify themselves, sometimes written Roman-numeral style as XIII, though the number 13 has been adopted by almost all other Latino gangs that aren't Nortenos.

Wedda - My personal slang for guera...this is what I thought kids were calling me, in my head, for a long damn time.

11 comments:

poundpuppy78 said...

I seriously doubt "smile now, cry later" originated by gang members. I've been researching it quite a bit and it never leads back to gangs. If anything, gangs have adopted the symbol for some reason; its no different from the Nazis adopting the swastika which is an ancient symbol for good with the ends reversed. I haven't found a definite answer yet, but from what I've found so far:

1) it is an old term that deals with the decisions we make in life and the consequences that follow: sort of like living in the moment doing whatever our hearts desire while we will worry about the results of our actions later.

2) Enjoy life now despite our problems; deal with the problems later

luis said...

alot of those things are rong i know cuz i am bp and u have all that shite rong u have no idea what u geting into cuz u mistake bp for sur13 u got that shite rongs os fix it

Pelon said...

Love This Blog!

chrille369 said...

I watched a docunentary about prison tattoos the other day ! And the guy who made the text and pic smile now cry later did it in prison ! And he was a gang member at the time !

Thomas Bradley said...

Yes! But almost there. Here is your answers... Humanities! Black Madonna, Holy trinity, Equinox, Spain and all of black Europe. Ancient Egyptian in the Grand Canyon. Khmer Hindus... List goes on and on. Animus bless you.

Thomas Bradley said...

Lets do the "Leo Africanus"

Thomas Bradley said...

As a matter of facts... Lets do the "Ziryab"

Thomas Bradley said...

Or the black Hercules that the Egyptians did for the Greeks

Thomas Bradley said...

Let me stop.

Thomas Bradley said...

Let me stop.

lucy mendoza said...

this is a nice paper and i have a homie that is died because of this gang

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