Hearts and Hands
Creating Community in Violent Times
By Luis Rodriguez
(Seven Stories Press, Hardcover, 9781583222638, 368pp.)
Publication Date: October 2, 2001
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Hearts and Hands deals with many of the difficult issues addressed in Luis Rodríguez’s memoir of gang life, Always Running, but with a focus on healing through community building. Empowered by his experiences as a peacemaker with gangs in Los Angeles and Chicago, Rodríguez offers a unique book of change. He makes concrete suggestions, shows how we can create nonviolent opportunities for youth today, and redirects kids into productive and satisfying lives. And he warns that we sacrifice community values for material gain when we incarcerate or marginalize people already on the edge of society. His interest in dissolving gang influence on black and latino kids is personal as well as societal; his son, to whom he dedicates Hearts and Hands, is currently serving a prison sentence for gang-related activity. With anecdotes, interviews, and time-tested guidelines, Hearts and Hands makes a powerful argument for building and supporting community life.
Best known for his autobiographical account, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (1993), LUIS J. RODRIGUEZ has written for the Nation, Grand Street, Los Angeles Weekly, and Americas Review, among others. Winner of a National Book Award, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for poetry, Rodríguez is also the founder of Tía Chucha Press, publishing emerging, socially conscious poets. He lives in San Fernando, Calif., with his wife, Trina, and their family.