While in Baghdad, Gittoes, an Australian photographer and documentary film maker, hears Elliott Lovett, an American soldier, claim that the streets of his Miami neighbourhood are even more dangerous. Gittoes goes back with him, meets his family, sees the machine gun-strafed houses on his block, and is there when his 20 year-old brother Marcus is murdered. It’s tragic to see how socially marginalized some African Americans are and the endemic idiotic violence between young men living in different housing projects. Are there ways out of the mess? The only alternative to prison or an early grave seems to be the army. Or, the great fantasy, making it as a rap musician. Gittoes’ personal focus is limiting – are there no efforts to counter gang culture? What about education? Why doesn’t Denzell, the youngest brother, who’s clearly very intelligent, go to school? Gittoes seems content to present people as they want to be seen. He sets up auditions for Denzell but no producer sees much of a market for a 14-year-old who raps about AK-47s and drugs. The focus is inward, desperate, materialistic and hopeless. What happened to politics?

New Internationalist issue 396 magazine cover This article is from the December 2006 issue of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Get a free trial »

Subscribe   Ethical Shop