From U.S. News and World Report:
If drug dealers make so much money, how come they still live with their moms? Sudhir Venkatesh is a Columbia University sociologist who spent years in the housing projects of Chicago documenting criminal gangs and the drug trade. He addresses that question and others in his new book Gang Leader for a Day and in an interview with U.S. News.
Isn’t dealing good money?
Ninety-five percent of the dealers are working for less than minimum wage. The money they are holding belongs to their leaders—the 5 percent who might be pulling in more than $100,000 per year. So, most of the members have little choice but to live at home with their families or with their relatives.
Why does Mom let them live at home?
Dealers are contributing to the household and giving money to parents who can’t get their own money. It’s not just the kids who can’t find a well-paying job. We tend to think that there are two types of people in the inner city—those that do follow the law and those that don’t. But gang members are also sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews.
Do gangs have institutional memories?
Many street gangs publish their own literature—an actual handbook—and share myths through stories. The gang members that I was dealing with were hearing stories from the 1960s, when gangs fought for more city services for their neighborhoods; they documented police abuse and were more politically active. They didn’t deal drugs.
The rest of the interview can be viewed here.