76°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Remembering The Wire’s Larry

Remembering The Wires Larry

For Black History Month, the Mass Media commemorates Larry Gillard Jr. who played D’Angelo Barksdale in the HBO series, The Wire.Larry Gillard Jr.’s character gambles on the block, shoots a thief, and gets demoted to the pit. The pit is the area in the Baltimore projects known as «the Towers » where up and coming drug dealers learn how to do their jobs. In one scene, the murderer brings his girlfriend to an upscale restaurant. Barksdale receives the utmost respect. He eventually ends up in jail for the murder of the thief due to good policing by Jimmy Mcnulty, played by Dominic West. In jail Gillard’s character becomes friends with the coke-smoking crowd and eventually becomes a cokehead. Without knowing it, Idris Elba aka Russel «Stringer » Bell sleeps with the character’s girlfriend. Finally, a hit man takes the life of Barksdale.Diderot Jean-Philippe, President of the Hip Hop Initiative club student argues that Gillard’s Barksdale was conditioned to sell drugs. Ever since he was born his uncle was the top drug dealer in Baltimore. Drug dealing ran in his family. Counseling is for people who admit that they have problems and he did not believe that he had one.When I asked different friends and associates about their interpretation of Barksdale, I received a wide range of responses. Ryan Baron, who lives outside of Baltimore, says he thinks that the message surrounding Gillard’s life is that people who get caught up in a gangster’s world and try to run away usually get haunted by their past. He has heard stories of people involved in the suburban drug dealing game outside Baltimore. In one of the stories a friend tried to get out of the drug game but he got shot in an area outside of Maryland.I also asked several female fans of the Wire what they thought about Barksdale. Tatiana Grant, a park ranger for the Boston African American National Historic site says that Larry Gillard’s character “confused” her.Antonia Barkare, another park ranger for the Boston African American National Historic Site thought that he portrays a “quintessential young male” who has seen much violence. She knew his character was doomed for death because the writers portrayed him to show too much emotion, and society would have us believe that characteristics that he possessed were unbecoming of a ” drug-dealer”.The character also confused Jean Phillipe. “I don’t know whether to call Larry Gillard’s character a wanksta or a gangsta” he said “but since I have to choose, I would definitely call him a wanksta.”Bakare defines a wanksta as someone who pretends to be someone their not especially as it pertains to violence, gangs, and things of that sort. She believes that some people living in disenfranchised communities might believe that going into a life of drugs and crime is a viable option, and the first season of The Wire shows that the drug game is very dangerous. Some people involved in this world do not know the seriousness of it.The Target, the first episode of the HBO series begins with a pool of blood dripping down the street. Dominic West, aka James Jimmy McNulty, learns that Snot Buggy, a gambler, stole part of the pot causing Barksdale to shoot him. AsWood Harris, portraying the head of the Barksdale crime family and the younger Barksdale’s uncled, says “How the fuck did you end up shooting this nigga in front of a security booth with all them people around…you did some dumb shit that now we got to work around.”