Was Doughboy from ‘Boyz n The Hood’ a felony? An exploration primarily based on a curious correlation made by him, a felony

Ice Dice, left and “Boyz n the Hood” director John Singleton (Picture by Pool ARNAL/GARCIA/PICOT/Gamma-Rapho by way of Getty Photos)

Editor’s word: The next article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the writer’s personal. Learn extra opinions on theGrio.

John Singleton’s 1991 magnum opus, “Boyz n The Hood” might be one in every of my favourite movies. It appeared to have accomplished a real job of laying out what life might need seemed like for a lot of of us from south central Los Angeles (now South Los Angeles), a world — to that time — I solely knew by means of the lyrics from NWA and Ice Dice albums. A visible illustration of the streets and tradition that birthed these lyrics was a recreation changer, in all probability for many of us not from there. And in contrast to most movies within the “hood” style, there was, not less than, a sliver of optimism on the finish within the type of fundamental character Tre and his girlfriend, Brandy, heading off to Atlanta to attend Morehouse School and Spelman School, respectively. Kudos to a tremendous movie, Mr. Singleton. Relaxation in energy.

The movie isn’t excellent. As an example, there’s the actually unattainable plot machine used to additional drive a stake into your feelings when — spoiler alert — minutes earlier than Ricky is gunned down on the street, his SAT outcomes that will have made him eligible for a soccer scholarship to the College of Southern California are delivered. By no means thoughts that he took that paper-and-No.2 pencil take a look at THE DAY BEFORE throughout a time when it took a minimum of six to eight weeks to obtain your outcomes. I discussed this in an episode of “Expensive Tradition” as a result of some 32 years later, it nonetheless makes me snort; the sheer audacity of pondering no one would discover cracks me up each time. 

However there’s one other scene that has all the time perplexed me. Permit me to color you an image. When the movie time jumps some years from Doughboy and Lil’ Chris being escorted out of Doughboy’s house for stealing from a retailer, we open on a yard cookout that’s celebrating Doughboy’s return from, presumably, one other stint in jail. I don’t truly know the way outdated they’re — it’s by no means made clear who’s older between Doughboy and Ricky although Doughboy offers off huge brother power. Anyway, Tre and Ricky are seniors in highschool, so let’s assume Doughboy is a 12 months or two older, so maybe 19 or 20 on the time. Anyway, so for the sake of argument, let’s assume he bought launched from a not-short however clearly not-long stint within the pokey. 

Whereas at this cookout, Tre asks Doughboy how he bought so huge inside. And he says there wasn’t a lot to do however carry weights and eat. The remainder of his time he was writing to his lady and studying, to which one in every of his homies, Monster, incredulously asks, “Studying???!?” Doughboy’s response is traditional but additionally totally ridiculous. It’s expletive-laden however permit me to paraphrase: 

“Yeah, I ain’t no felony, I can learn!” There are just a few alternative phrases positioned appropriately for punctuation however that’s the gist. And it’s an asinine assertion for Doughboy to make for just a few causes. Do you could have a minute? Permit me to expound. 

For starters, let’s simply look at the very cause Doughboy is making that assertion at the moment. THEY’RE LITERALLY AT A COOKOUT CELEBRATING HIM COMING HOME FROM THE PEN. Additionally, his phrases are “the pen,” which is brief for the penitentiary. Doughboy’s personal mom asks Tre to talk to him in order that they will maintain him out this time. Doughboy isn’t solely a felony, he’s a repeat offender. He’s actually a crimer. He does the crimes. 

The definition of a felony is “one who has dedicated against the law.” And look, I’m not even saying Doughboy is responsible of no matter crime he was convicted of that put him in jail, nonetheless, primarily based on his conduct in the remainder of the movie, I’m inclined to say that maybe he could have been convicted (a time or two) of the improper crime, however he was responsible of some crime. That’s simply me pontificating although. 

Moreover, over the course of the movie, we see Doughboy have interaction in not less than one homicide, emotionally justified and/or code of the streets, however, I feel we are able to all agree that killing Ferris was not self-defense and thus homicide, which is against the law. To not point out he’s carrying a firearm always. Positive, it’s for defense and clearly wanted, however he additionally doesn’t appear towards utilizing it at a second’s discover, which I feel we are able to additionally all agree is felony conduct. 

Let’s have a look at his precise assertion, too: “I ain’t no felony, I can learn.” The implication right here is that criminals can’t learn, which is odd contemplating that Doughboy — a felony — simply identified that he hung out in jail … studying. He’s actually disproving his personal level, whether or not he thinks he’s a felony or not (which we’ll get to). However, I feel if we had been to wash the annals of historical past and ballot most convicted criminals — I posit that when you haven’t been convicted in a court docket of legislation, you shouldn’t need to name your self a felony, even in case you are out right here committing crimes; complicated I do know — I might guess most criminals can, in truth, learn. I’ve no proof of this however primarily based on documentaries I’ve seen and a number of the criminals I personally know, I’m going to go on forward and say that whereas there could also be some correlation between an incapability to learn and a propensity to commit crimes, assuming that with the ability to learn precludes one from being a felony is patently false and ridiculous. 

In reality, I’m extra shocked that Monster was incredulous at Doughboy’s studying than Doughboy — who simply bought out of the penitentiary, once more — insinuating that he wasn’t a felony. That crew, who in later scenes actually argued concerning the existence of God, looks as if the kind to argue and debate something. 

Let’s talk about why Doughboy won’t take into account himself a felony. Maybe he considers criminality a way of thinking, like an individual who chooses to commit crimes when he doesn’t need to. It’s totally potential that Doughboy believes he has solely dedicated sure crimes out of a must survive. Doughboy sells dop e— we see not less than one hand-to-hand drug transaction — to generate income. He carries his gun for defense from the streets he helps to make unsafe. He kills Ferris and crew in retaliation for Ricky, who isn’t even a part of the road life however a civilian. So perhaps Doughboy (save for that one time as a juvenile the place he says he’s going to the shop with out cash and finally ends up arrested) actually believes he’s a sufferer of circumstance, not a felony. At his core, he’s a great particular person whose atmosphere and choices of others have put him able to land in jail, however a felony he isn’t. He reads, bear in mind? I’m not totally unsympathetic to this mind-set. It’s improper — he’s certainly a felony — however circumstances are what circumstances are. So perhaps to Doughboy, it’s extra of a semantic factor: Sure, he’s been institutionalized and when the time requires it, he engages in felony exercise, however a felony? Naw. To him, he’s merely a product of his atmosphere. 

Which, on this case, is textbook felony. He simply occurs to be one who can learn. 

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black issues and drinks very brown liquors, and is fairly fly for a lightweight man. His greatest accomplishment thus far coincides along with his Blackest accomplishment thus far in that he obtained a cellphone name from Oprah Winfrey after she learn one in every of his items (greatest), however he didn’t reply the cellphone as a result of the caller ID stated: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Ensure you try the Expensive Tradition podcast each Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Community, the place I’ll be internet hosting a number of the Blackest conversations recognized to humankind. You won’t depart the convo with an afro, however you’ll undoubtedly be searching for your Afro Sheen! Take heed to Expensive Tradition on TheGrio’s app; obtain it right here.

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