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The Unveiling of the Mask


The Unveiling of the Mask

By Charles Carpenter

Self-published with help from


CONTRADICTION The Unveiling of the Mask

Copyright © 2016 by Charles Carpenter

ISBN-10: 1543014267 

ISBN-13: 978-1543014266

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.

Self-published with help from


POBox 69

Berryville AR 72616

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The Unveiling of the Mask

By Charles Carpenter


This book is dedicated to my daughter Qiara Lashanna Carpenter.


To my loving mother Lula Baker—I love you always. To my cousin Stanley Caver, thank you for always being there for me over the years. I want to thank the following people for all their support: Darren Caver, Maritza Nieves, Laura Rios, Donna Ramirez, Bridgette Everitt, Theresa Gains, Charles Harris, and Charles Newsome. Thank you all.

Last, but not least, to my lovely wife, Maria Lara Carpenter; I love you always.


To some change is an insurmountable obstacle that cannot be overcome. For others experience is the best catalyst for change.

For years Charles Carpenter was involved in a destructive criminal life style which was comprised of drugs, gangs, and a wanton disregard for public safety. Charles Carpenter’s childhood was tumultuous as he witnessed domestic violence in the home. Witnessing his father physically abuse his mother was the cornerstone of his learned violent behavior as well as his disdain for authority figures.

As a result of his parents volatile marriage they divorced when Charles was seven years old. With a loving mother trying to do her best to play the role of both father and mother, her best efforts weren’t enough. Charles turned to the local gang members to fill the void of not having a strong male role model.

Albeit Charles Carpenter’s mother taught him morals and values in the home, Charles gradually moved away from the those values and principles as he diligently sought approval and acceptance from his gang member associates.

As time went on Charles lost his true identity and put on a mask in order to be accepted. He felt if he pretended to be someone else, something else, he’d fill that void in his heart left by his upbringing.

Charles was loyal to his subculture associates, although under the veneer of love and comradeship they could care less about Charles.

That point was made crystal clear when a fellow member of Mr. Carpenter’s former gang had an affair with Mr. Carpenter’s wife. His wife later gave birth to his child. As a result of feelings of jealousy and betrayal Charles Carpenter was arrested August 13, 2002 for second degree murder.

Charles immediately began to realize that he needed to change his negative lifestyle. He had to decide where his loyalty would truly be. Would it be to the deception of the gang and the criminal life style or to the morals and values his mother so earnestly instilled in him. The choice would be his and his alone.

Charles outlines the anatomy of his change and aptly titles this book “Contradiction” as he is no longer the person he once was.


The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but the wise one accepts advice”

Proverbs 12:15

The early years of my life were tainted by horrific memories of domestic violence. My younger brother and I witnessed my, then alcoholic, father brutally beat my mother. Having witnessed the violence, until the age of seven, I was left feeling helpless, afraid, angry, and confused. I was confused because I couldn’t grasp the concept of why my father, who was suppose to love and cherish my mother, could inflict physical harm upon her as if she was an enemy on the street.

As a result of my witnessing the abuse of my mother at the hands of my father I developed a deep seated hatred for the man that I would grow to refer to as Raymond Carpenter.

Being that I was young, seven years old and very small in stature I also had a morbid fear of my father; he was emotionally unpredictable, especially when he was drunk.

As I grew older the hatred I had toward my father soon translated into a disdain for all authority figures.

The violence I witnessed in the home was the foundation that fueled my angry outbursts and violent behaviors that I would exhibit later in life.

My parents divorced in 1977. Although I was happy that my mother would no longer have to endure physical abuse, I felt I needed a male figure to show me how to be a man. Even though my mother tried her best to play both roles, mother and father, she was a great provider for my brother and I. She was also a strong disciplinarian. However, the truth of the matter is, a woman cannot show a boy how to be a man.

As a consequence of not initially having a father figure after my mom divorced my father, my brother and I turned to the streets in search of that inherent need for a father figure.

The young men in my neighborhood who were involved in gangs and criminal activity became my role models. I was fascinated with the gang subculture that was present in the area, not to mention I was very young, easily influenced, and very impressionable.

In spite of the fact that I had a religious foundation, thanks to my mother who is one of Jehovah’s Witness, I made a choice to surround myself around negative people.

In essence I knew based on what I was taught what was right, and what was wrong. Yet I made the decision to associate with people who were engaged in illicit activities. Looking back, although there were causative factors that contributed to my poor decision making process, the bottom line is I had a choice.

We moved to Pomona California from Los Angeles in 1978, initially the new environment seemed very hopeful. My brother and I enjoyed viewing the mountains in the distance, and there were plenty of trees in the area. The atmosphere was perfect for a couple of curious young kids to explore.

However, beneath the veneer of utopia there existed a small community called “Valwood Estates”, notoriously known throughout Los Angeles County as “Sin Town”. When we arrived to Pomona, “Sin Town” was comprised of a 99 percent African American population. Most of “Sin Town’s” residents migrated from the greater Los Angeles area in an attempt to provide their family with a better quality of living minus the gang infestation and high crime rate that the big city had to offer. Their hopes and dreams were met with disappointment when they discovered Pomona was no better and often times much worse in terms of gang activity and crime than the previous area they left behind in the big city.

What was my attraction to the gang subculture? I viewed the guys in my neighborhood as role models. Despite the fact that they were engaged in anti-social activities, to me they had the freedom to create their own identity and express themselves in a manner that was fitting to them. These individuals didn’t care about rules governed by society. They lived by their own rules. They had their own style of dressing, talking, and behaving. To a young kid this lifestyle was captivating and intriguing, and I wanted to be part of it.

At the tender age of nine, I was imbued with gang indoctrination. The older members of the neighborhood viewed me as a little brother, and as such I felt a sense of acceptance and belonging. This new found acceptance and belonging served as a positive reinforcement to me and fueled my desire to be part of this group.

In my young mind the members of the gang truly cared for me and were loyal to the point of sacrificing their very lives for me. As I grew older and gained knowledge and experience I discovered that it was all a mirage.

As I began to embrace the gang subculture, I quickly became acclimated to a life style saturated with envy, greed, disloyalty, and betrayal.

I behaved in a manner consistent with what I observed from fellow members; I started wearing braids in my hair, wearing gang attire, i.e. khakis, Pendleton shirts, etc. I also adopted the language that was commonly used in my neighborhood.

Over time I placed my fellow gang members in high esteem, in some instances they were priority over my mother and siblings. I would do things to garner acceptance from fellow members.

I had to learn how to be a gang member, I had to reinvent who I was and transform into the person that I wanted to become, a gang member. My need to be accepted, and my attempt to fill the void of not having a father figure in the home ignited a desire within me to become an established member of the gang.

I started off as a young innocent kid who was exposed to domestic violence, and prone to angry outbursts and impulsive behaviors. Having been predisposed to violence it was natural for me to behave in an often violent manner in order to solidify my position within the hierarchy of the subculture. Ironically, when I exhibited negative behavior it was reinforced positively within the group, thus I continued exhibiting negative behavior. I received positive results, e.g. positive acclaim, accolades from young fellow members, and an established reputation.

Defense Mechanisms

As time progressed I learned to adapt to social norms instituted by the group. I began to move further and further away from the person I once was, and I evolved into something I thought was acceptable to my peers. I was living to be accepted and validated by the group. In my quest for acceptance I had to pretend to be someone other than who I was.

Looking back at my life and the choice I made to be part of the gang lifestyle I realize that for years I was trying to project an image that was contrary to who I was on the inside. My life was centered on the mask that I displayed for the world and my so-called “homies” of whom I desperately searched for acceptance and approval. This became a problem because for years I looked to others to validate my existence, instead of valuing who I was. This type of behavior stems from low self-esteem coupled with bad association. The fact is, we as humans all have the need and desire to be loved and accepted by our peers, the problem develops when we seek out the wrong crowd to be accepted by.

Often times when we associate with the wrong people we become blinded in our minds eye, thinking that these negative associates care for us when in fact they could care less. It took me over 20 years of being disappointed, and being betrayed by fellow gang members for me to finally realize that the crowd I was hanging with didn’t have my best interests at heart.

It was only after I gained insight about myself that I finally understood that all the while I was living a negative lifestyle, I was wearing a mask and underneath was a fearful and emotionally undeveloped little boy.

Today I am no longer that fearful emotionally undeveloped little boy. Today I have transformed my way of thinking by way of Bible principles, coupled with education and therapy; today I no longer look to others to validate how I feel about myself. Today I recognize that I have fears and that the people I associate with today will have to accept me with all of my failings and short comings; otherwise they are not my friends.

Gangs are a problem in essentially every state in America. Gangs participate in various forms of crime ranging from petty theft, extortion, drug dealing, robbery, and murder. As a result of the senseless crimes being committed by gang members innocent people are often caught in the cross hairs of these often self seeking and ruthless individuals.

My agenda is to shed light on the root cause of not only gang activity but gang membership as well. I hope that through sharing my experiences that I can deter our troubled youth from joining gangs in the first place.

The Kiss of Betrayal “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48

Webster’s New World dictionary defines loyalty as faithful to one’s country, friends, ideals, etc.

When I started associating with gang members I was attracted to the false sense of loyalty. On the surface these individuals appeared to genuinely care for one another. I was indoctrinated with principles and social norms of gang subculture. These bylaws dictated that each member remain unwaveringly loyal to fellow members. Rule number one: never attempt to court a fellow member’s girlfriend. A violation of this magnitude is the epitome of betrayal. Rule number two: always back up a fellow comrade no matter if he’s right or wrong; if a fellow member gets into a fight with a rival gang member we are obligated to assist. Rule number three: when a fellow comrade has to do time, in jail or prison, his fellow members are expected to write letters and send money while they are locked up. Last but not least is rule number four: when a comrade dies or gets killed, fellow members are expected or required to avenge his death if he was murdered by rival gang members. Of course there are several more unwritten rules that gang members are supposed to abide by, but we know that they don’t. These expectations rarely come to fruition. Case and point, regarding rule number one, regarding not trying to court a fellow members girlfriend behind his back, that rule is frequently broken.

The fellow members may give the false appearance like they are loyal to you and respect you but the truth is the hearts of men involved in this lifestyle is treacherous. Furthermore, when dealing with people who are inherently selfish and with absolutely no morals, one can always expect betrayal.

In regards to always backing up a fellow comrade, this rule we proudly apply. I believe the logic behind this rule is the excitement and fun it is to attack when one has the upper hand. However, once the dynamics change when one becomes outnumbered, that rule is often compromised under such circumstances.

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