tribal drum
Street gangs enable their members to feel like 'somebody.'

The dynamics of contemporary tribalism are perhaps nowhere more clearly evident than in street gangs.

It is no accident that gangs tend to arise in precisely the neighborhoods where people are most likely to feel like “nobodies” in the world at large.  What gangs ultimately offer their members is a way to feel less insignificant.

To those who are willing and able to join them in combat, they can offer an almost irresistibly powerful sense of belonging, power, and significance--within the gang itself, in the ‘hood in which the gang operates, and to a remarkable degree, even in the world at large.  (How many people in America--or in the world—have never heard of Crips or Bloods?)

Street gangs provide a dramatically clear glimpse into a mindset that “I may not matter much to people on my own, but I belong to a tribe that they can’t afford to ignore.”

This same proposition, in one form or another, underlies any number of other contemporary revivals of tribalism--including the most toxic ones.