Introduction: From Fear to Hope

Growing up in the inner city in Southern California, I remember being surrounded by fear. Intimidation hung thick in the air. No one dared pass through the street behind our house in the city of Compton, near Los Angeles. Criminals had hijacked a community filled with ambitious, loving, hardworking people. If you didn't know who you were, someone else was willing to tell you, and there were consequences for not listening.

The pressure to join a gang was constant. Thugs all around me thought of their gang as their "family," a concept I could respect and even admire, if only the family silverware didn't have your elderly neighbor's name stamped on it.

I remember a local punk nicknamed Tweet, who lived next door to me. ...

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