Recent Read: Ghettoside

Jill Leovy is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. In the course of her reporting, she became enthralled and captivated by the large amount of black-on-black violent crime, as she calls it, and the lack of attention paid to it.

Leovy started a blog/online project for The Times regarding the homicides in Los Angeles, including those that would otherwise go uncovered.

She then turned that work into Ghettoside, her debut literary work.


From Goodreads page

Ghettoside focuses on the deaths of young black males at the hands of their counterparts, told through the lens of the death of Bryant Tennelle, who was the son of a LAPD Detective.

Bryant was killed while walking with a friend and wearing a color of a gang that had rivals in the area. (He was not a member of the game himself.)

The killing was senseless, as are many of the homicides in Los Angeles (and in other cities across the country). However, it is life for the people who live in these areas. And that’s Leovy’s whole purpose in writing.

I don’t live in a large city. Where I live hasn’t seen a homicide in quite some time. I can’t personally identify with what Leovy writes about. But I can see her point and I think she argues it well.

Police departments are understaffed/underresourced and the approach they take to preventing violent crime may not be the best tactic.

The culture young men grow up in may make them more likely to become victims–and it is cyclical.

The pain and grief families of victims and suspects feel is often just a part of life. Some mothers Leovy wrote about have lost multiple children and/or family members to violence.

Leovy’s book is a strong piece of reporting about violence in America. She presents the facts as she has found them and leaves the reader (for the most part) to draw their own conclusion. She isn’t making an argument for anything in particular–with the exception of more resources being given to police to solve crimes such as homicide–she’s just reporting.

This book has been getting a lot of buzz since its publication one year ago and rightly so. It is a powerful read.


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