J.T. was boss of the Black Kings, roughly 200 crack dealers working at the sprawling, hideous Robert Taylor Homes. Venkatesh saw this operation close up —- crack transactions, drive-by shootings by rival gangs, the violent discipline J.T. imposed on his troops.
Venkatesh, 41, now a sociology professor at Columbia University, also spent countless hours with the other people at Robert Taylor Homes, the nongang members, learning about life at the bottom. This was a place that ambulances wouldn't come to, a place where people didn't call the cops. But his many years there, recounted in the book "Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets," taught Venkatesh some indelible lessons.
For some Black people their own firm belief that it is the CIA who is responsible for flooding the Black community with drugs holds more true in their minds than an actual interview with those who provide the "last mile" in the Supply Chain for these drugs into the Black community.