Luis J Rodriguez

Art is “an antidote to violence” postulated by writer and ex-gang member Luis J. Rodriguez. A veteran of east L.A gang wars at 11, he found himself through poetry, written in his memoir Always Running, La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. He currently strives to repair broken communities torn by gang violence. The article “Former Gang Member Says Art Is an Antidote to Violence” examines his work as both a writer and activist. Collaborating with the U.S Department of State he visited Juarez, Mexico, in an effort to aid the border town fraught with drug violence. His aim is to inspire their misguided youth, by way of the arts, he explains, “I have a friend who used to say, ‘If you don’t turn the young people toward their beauty, they will turn toward violence’.” (Marrero 1). Rodriguez tells his life story around the world; he was revolving between detention centers, being violent, frustrated, and dealing with addiction. Today, he visits detention centers speaking out to incarcerated youth hoping to change the misguided youth of communities. “I met with poets and artists. A rich and intimate discussion was held with spiritually hungry and intelligent young people although many have committed serious crimes, including murder.” (Marrero 1). Rodriguez returned to the United States with considerable optimism, however, he still insists Mexico lacks sufficient resources necessary to combat gang violence and drug trafficking, in desperate communities. Rodriguez’s vision is a powerful one demonstrating the unifying power of art, and both as a raconteur and humanitarian he speaks his stories of struggle.

Works Cited:
Marrero, Erica. "Former Gang Member Says Art Is an Antidote to Violence", 10 Aug. 2010