Code of the Street by Elijah Anderson

This paper reviews Elijah Anderson’s Code of the Street:Decency, Violence and the Moral Life of the Inner City, which describes inner city black culture.

This paper examines Elijah Anderson’s “Code of the Street: Decency, Violence and the Moral Life of the Inner City”, extensive interviews with people who live in an area he describes as a “hyperghetto” in “North Philadelphia”. The author relates that Anderson points out that, only one generation ago, the neighborhood contained numerous manufacturing jobs; men who wanted to be decent parents could get a job that provided their family with a living wage. The paper concludes that Anderson’s book, using full, unedited quotes from the people who live in North Philadelphia, managed to be analytical without being impersonal; he gives readers who have never been anywhere near such a neighborhood an understanding of both its strengths and its weaknesses.
The attitude of street families has at least some roots in the perception and reality of racism. Street families believe that there’s one kind of justice for whites, and another for blacks, and so they will have to right any wrongs done to them on their own. Power comes from having a large group of people who will back you up in a dispute, no questions asked. The fewer people you can count on to call to your side, the weaker, and more vulnerable, you are. Having respect means not that you work hard or are trying to raise your family well, but that you are capable of vengeance and will not hesitate to seek it.