What is the author's message in the book Always Running?  

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Author Luis Rodriguez brings a message of cautious optimism. While he admits that many people he knew as a youth did not live very long, he does not regard his own story of survival and success as unique. Rodriguez wants to help the reader understand that even a small amount...

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Author Luis Rodriguez brings a message of cautious optimism. While he admits that many people he knew as a youth did not live very long, he does not regard his own story of survival and success as unique. Rodriguez wants to help the reader understand that even a small amount of positive work within a community can have a large impact. He also emphasizes that during his youth in the 1960s, there were very few programs that addressed youth poverty and violence. In addition, he chronicles the discrimination that he and his peers experienced, including from the teachers whose job was to help them.

Rodriguez managed to leave the gang life he had embraced because he saw no viable alternatives. The positive intervention of one individual, Chele, who chose to mentor the teenager proved enough to turn things around for him. The author reminds us that person-to-person contact is essential but inadequate for reaching all the youth who could benefit from role models. While he understands that each youth must make their own decisions and have the courage to turn away from violence, he does not overestimate the importance of individual qualities. Instead, he encourages the reader to believe that most youths can leave the vicious cycle behind rather than to regard a success story as an anomaly.

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Luis Rodriguez wants to make clear to readers—especially those who might make the choice to join a gang—that the risks outweigh the rewards. As someone who was in a gang and later had to deal with his son joining one, Rodriquez is uniquely suited to discuss what motivates people to join gangs, why it can seem like the better option, and why it ultimately isn't a good decision.

He makes his point by explaining what drove him into the gang lifestyle in the first place. He was isolated from his teachers and peers, and he was looked down on by authority figures. People in the local gangs, however, gave him a sense of belonging and the hope of some kind of better life than he already had. They also offered protection to people like Rodriguez who, as a minority, was likely to be targeted by racist officials like police officers.

However, his research and experiences show that the gang lifestyle isn't healthy or helpful for people. He was able to escape it because of the help of someone at a community center. He advocates for this kind of outreach and education. He believes that it can be leveraged to reach young people who might otherwise be lost to a dangerous and criminal lifestyle.

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Always Running is a memoir written by Rodriguez to his son, Ramiro, who, just like himself, joins a street gang as a teenager. Rodriguez’s message is about the dangers of gang life. He hopes to influence his son into making the right decision and abandoning the gang lifestyle he has chosen. He acknowledges that even though society might be structured in a way that pushes one towards such a lifestyle, it is in an individual’s best interest to make prudent decisions.

Rodriguez narrates how he ended up a gang member at such an early age and the cycle of violence that ensued. He dropped out of high school, was thrown out of his family house, got entrapped in drug abuse, and saw some of his comrades lose their lives, while others ended up behind bars. Gang life is a never-ending cycle of violence and crime that culminates in death or a jail term.

Rodriguez is, however, optimistic that with the right guidance and choices, a person could turn their life around. He met Chente, who influenced him greatly and initiated his turn-around. Rodriguez went back to high school and got involved in a number of community projects. He became a peace ambassador and mediated between the local rival gangs. He finally graduated and got a scholarship for his writing and painting.

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The author's message is that gangs and violence lead nowhere, and that only through banding together as a community can we hope to save our children from that fate. The author had first-hand experience with gang culture, growing up in East Los Angeles. His first run-in with the police occurred when he was 10, & from then on he was essentially lost in the system. In fact, one could argue that he was at a disadvantage from the first moment he entered school, since he didn't speak English, and wasn't allowed to speak Spanish. He encountered teachers, social workers, and others in positions of authority who either simply didn't care, or were openly hostile. Due to all this, he dropped out of school. Along the way, he met Chente Ramírez at a community center created in response to the escalation of gang violence. A university-educated Chicano, Chente introduced Luis to political activism and Chicano pride. Luis returned to high school, where he too led political actions. He became the first non-Anglo to serve as mascot to the school football team, the Aztecs. He graduated and briefly attended college. It was this action of leaving his hometown that allowed him to escape the influence of gangs.

Rodriguez’s rescue from this self-destructive lifestyle came through art and politics. His writing and artistic ability flourished, so that he began to find more power in the pen and brush than in the sword. He wanted power to challenge and ultimately change the harsh social conditions which produce gangs. Thus, Rodriguez replaced the radical alienation of a gang member with an equally radical commitment to political action. This transition was the turning point in his life. It is this message that he wanted to share with others, especially his own son, whom he saw falling into the same patterns of violence he himself was susceptible to as a boy.

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