In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio

Anthropologist Philippe Bourgois lives in El Barrio (an impoverished neighborhood in East Harlem, then mostly populated by Puerto Ricans) from 1985 to 1990 and befriends a network of crack dealers. Through transcriptions of tape recordings combined with historical contextualization and socioeconomic analysis, he paints a vivid picture of broken families who want out of this lifestyle but face countless hurdles from institutional racism. Generational trauma is maintained by a cycle of physical/sexual/emotional abuse and drug addiction. The characters are not easy to like yet their humanity is made obvious. Read more