I grew up in South Central LA. It's where my family is, it's where many of my friends are and it's where I learned to play basketball. Having grown up in this area, I know what it's like to be surrounded by gang violence, so when Stacy Peralta approached me to produce his documentary, Crips and Bloods: Made in America, I jumped at the chance to get involved. I had two goals for the film. First, I wanted to show people about why we have gangs in our inner cities, because unless you understand the history you can't address the issue. And second, I wanted to show people what we can do to resolve this.
Until we stop looking at these kids as monsters we will never break the cycle of gang violence. People need to understand that in communities in which family units have broken apart and there are few, if any, economic opportunities, gangs become like surrogate families, identities.
Throwing people in jail is not going to solve this problem. As NFL great and youth advocate Jim Brown says in our film, "If more police or jails were the solution, the problem would have been fixed 30 years ago." If we are going to address this issue in a meaningful way, we need a new approach.
That's where Congressman Bobby Scott's Youth PROMISE Act comes in. PROMISE stands for Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education -- it's exactly what we're advocating in our film and we're proud to get behind this effort.
The Act is based on prevention and intervention programs that work with local schools, community centers, faith-based organizations, and parents to prevent violence before it begins. The whole idea is to give these kids another way, another option, instead of joining gangs.
Stacy Peralta, my producing partner Cash Warren, and I have been asked by Congressman Scott to show our film and speak at his Youth PROMISE Act rally in Washington DC on May 7th on the west lawn of the Capitol Building (the same place where President Obama was sworn in). So please get involved. Go to cripsandbloodsmovie.com, order the DVD, watch it with your friends and family and then write to your Congressman or woman to support this important act. Let's end the killing in our inner cities -- let's work together for a better and more peaceful future.