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The Inextricable Anti-blackness of the American Muslim Community

Logo for CAIR

The mainstream American Muslim community is inextricably anti-black. This anti-blackness of the American Muslim goes beyond the casual references to Black people as abeed(slaves) among Arabs. It goes beyond Asian and Arab Muslim not wanting to pray near Black people. It goes beyond the lack of Black Muslim representation on speaking panels at major Islamic conferences.

The entire mainstream American Muslim community is actively upholding political positions and practices that actively perpetuates the oppression of Black people. By mainstream American Muslim establishment I am specifically referring to the agglomeration of institutions that have significant influence in determining Islamic discourse in America. This includes but is not limited to CAIR, ICNA, Zaytuna Institute and ISNA.

CAIR Honors White Politician Who Supported Apartheid South Africa. 

On August, 25th, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR ) which claims to be “largest Muslim advocacy and civil rights organization” published a statement in honor of  John McCain.

CAIR’s national executive director Nihad Awad asserted “The American Muslim community joins all Americans in mourning the death of Sen. McCain, a man of principle who served our nation with honor and dignity for so many decades.”

Former senator John McCain voted on six different occasions against placing sanctions on Apartheid, South Africa.  McCain actively supported U.S firms who were doing  business with the racist apartheid regime of South Africa. Simply put, McCain was a white oppressor who deserves no praise or honors from Muslims. CAIR engages in the lauding of this white oppressor as a “man of principle” because their focus is not in aligning with black people in the struggle against white supremacy but they seek to make Muslims more palatable to the white dominant class.

Did Bilal Ibn Rabah mourn over the death of  Umayyah ibn Khalaf and eulogize his former slave master as a “man of principle”?

The Leader of the First Accredited Muslim College Disrespects the Black Struggle 

The mainstream American Muslim establishment actively appoints for leaders in the Muslim community white racists like Hamza Yusuf who has disrespected the struggle of Black Americans on numerous occasions.  This purported “Islamic Scholar” asserted the true problem facing Black Americans is not institutional racism but the break down of the Black family. Consequently, in response to Black people being brutalized by police officers Hamza Yusuf merely asserted that not all police officers are racist.  Hamza Yusuf who actively obfuscates the oppression of Black people leads Zaytuna Institute which is the first accredited American Muslim college. 

 The anti-Black political stances of ICNA 

In a lecture titled A Proud, Patriotic Sharia Practicing Muslim given at an ICNA conference, prominent Muslim leader Yasir Qadhi asserted that “It is obligatory for Muslims to be patriotic in whatever land they live in.”  The question is: how does this political stance account for Muslims who are the descendants of enslaved Africans who were forcibly brought to America against their will?   Yasir Qadhi calling Muslims to be “proud American patriots” stands in sharp contrast to Black Muslim revolutionary Safiya Bukhari and Sekou Odinga who believed in the creation of the Republic of New Africa.

Indeed, it stands in sharp contradiction to Malcolm X who told Black people “You are not an American. You are a victim of America.” 

The fundamental reality is that Black people are not nor have they ever been part of mainstream American society. In the Political Economy of the Black Ghetto by political scientist William K. Tab, the author explains that the Black ghettos have a relationship with America that is similar to   a colonial power to its colony. Since Black people are not part of mainstream American society, Black people can never truly be part of the “American Muslim establishment.” Moreover, Black people have no business being patriotic towards a country that has oppressed them for centuries.

The American Muslim Establishment: An Affront to the Legacy of Malcolm X

The entire mainstream American Muslim establishment is an absolute affront to everything that Malcolm X stood for. The masjids and institutions of the mainstream American Muslim establishment  are more concerned about getting white folks to like Muslims than they are continuing about Malcolm X’s focus of an Islamic commitment to uplifting disenfranchised Black communities.

Our focus as  Muslims should not be seeking to make Islam more palatable to white oppressors. It should be to focus on Islamic outreach and liberation of oppressed Black communities. I invite all Muslims to support these initiatives focused on Islamic liberation  of oppressed Black communities instead of seeking to appease the white ruling class.

 

The Unmet Challenge of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

At a local Masjid I attended recently, I told some brothers that they could greatly benefit from listening to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. They loathed the idea, bemoaning theological differences between the Nation of Islam and Sunni Islam. However, I contend that the Third Resurrection of Islam in Black America, as Dr. Sherman Jackson called for in his book, Islam and the BlackAmerican:  Looking Toward the Third Resurrection, will only occur when the Black Muslim community has a better understanding of Minister Farrakhan.

In a story narrated by Minister Farrakhan, he shared an experience when he was overseas and was told by some Islamic scholars, “you really need to learn the religion of Islam a little better”. In response, Minister Farrakhan stated he would like like to meet the scholars of Islam in Mecca.  In the meeting was several Islamic scholars but of particular note is Muhammad Qutb, the younger brother of Sayyid Qutb, the chief ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most influential Islamic revivalist organization of the 20th century. ( Muhammad Qutb’s writings influenced many Black socialists in the Black Panther Party to embrace Islam)

The next day, Shaykh Zindani, a leading scholar of Islam told Minister Farrakhan that he could not sleep all that night. The chief scholar of the meeting  Muhammad Qutb, was asked by the group to speak in refutation of Minister Farrakhan. However, in a display of humility, Qutb responded, “I did not come to speak. I came to listen and to learn, and I have both listened and learned.” I say it is about time that the Ummah did more listening and learning from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.”

What about Black Muslims?  Is it time we started listening and learning from Minister Farrakhan?

In “Islam and The BlackAmerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection,” Dr. Jackson writes that the departure of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the mass conversion of African-Americans to Sunni Islam under Imam  W. D. Muhammad coincided with the massive influx of immigrant Muslims who “introduced theological, juridical, and revivalist discourses that effectively banished native Black American instincts and understandings to the periphery. ”

What is noteworthy is that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan whom Dr. Sherman Jackson states during this time was the only Black muslim leader who, “refused to recognize immigrant and overseas authority” articulates during this time a profound critique of the inability of the shaykhs of Sunni Islam to grapple with the theological issues emerging from the Black experience of transatlantic  slavery in a manner that quenches the spiritual thirst of Black people and inspires in them a way to address their socio economic political conditions, a critique of how Islam became a tool of Arab cultural imperialism over black people, and of course the ubiquitous anti-Blackness in the Muslim writ large. In other words, what immigrant Muslims brought to America did very little to address the needs and concerns of Black Muslims and in some regards further oppressed Black Muslims with Arab and South Asian anti Black cultural imperialism.

During Louis Farrakhan’s rebuilding of the Nation of Islam, he frequently cited the inability of eastern Islamic scholars to teach Black folks Islam in a manner that would encourage them to continue to struggle for their liberation.  “They were satisfied only if you said your prayers and read the Qu’ran in Arabic, they didn’t know what to make of you Black people other than that. But Islam is not just to make you an Arabic reader of the Qu’ran, it is to bring you back to what you were.”

Black Muslims learned the rituals of the faith and the Arabic language but very little if anything to change the social, political, and economic conditions of Black people.  Farrakhan asks the following question,”You’re in the Mosque by yourself. You learned Arabic, you can say the prayers perfectly but what are you doing today for yourself? ” Black Muslims walk past the worst conditions our people suffer to get to a masjid, say prayers, and keep going.  We can do better.

Whereas most theories of Islamic revival are predicated upon geo-political changes in the “Middle-East,”, Minister Farrakhan is the only Muslim who has posited a theory of Islamic revival centered upon oppressed inner-city Black communities.  He tells another story when he traveled to the Gulf States and several Muslims told him that despite growing up in the Muslim world, they never really practiced their faith or cared for their faith until they came to America and observed the zeal for which Black Muslims practiced Islam.

From this, Minister Farrakhan gleans that by making our communities the finest Muslim community in the world, the faith of the entire Ummah can potentially be reawakened, “We are going to be made that which will make the Islamic world admire us and become revived by the Islam that comes out of the hearts of those classified as dead.” The outcome of this theory of Islamic revival leads to the Black community’s engagement by the Nation of Islam that is frankly unrivaled by other Muslim communities. They manifest this in conflict resolution efforts, drug rehabilitation programs, schools, businesses, a newspaper and other community services.

As to his critics, Minister Farrakhan states bluntly, “If you have the proper tawheed and the proper aqeedah, you got to have the proper actions that bares witness to your aqeedah.”  It is a daily challenge and struggle to actually use Qu’ran and Sunnah to uplift Black communities instead of embracing reactionary American assimilationist politics that ignore the fact that Blacks are outside of mainstream America.   Black Sunni Masjids unfortunately have been driven to complete irrelevancy in many Black communities due to their lack of engagement. How can we meet the challenge to save our people?

When one looks at the Black Sunni intelligentsia who have positions of influence in the “American Muslim”  community they largely take political positions that are not in the best interest of Black People.

I believe, and Allah knows best, Islam in Black America will never thrive until the unity of Black Muslims includes Minister Farrakhan and together we work to give our people Quran and Sunnah in a manner that quenches their spiritual thirst and inspires them to address their socio economic and political conditions.

The Need For Islamic Outreach to the Black Ghetto

And We inspired the soul with knowledge of evil and piety. Those who purify their souls will certainly have everlasting happiness and those who corrupt their soul will certainly be deprived of happiness. (Surah ash-Shams, 91:8-10)

It is the duty of Muslims to confront tyranny and oppression wherever they find it—and what greater tyranny and oppression is there than the ghetto which America has imposed upon its Black population?  In the Political Economy of the Black Ghetto by political scientist William K. Tab, the author explains that the Black ghettos did not emerge out of thin air, rather, the ghetto is an actual unjust political arrangement that the white power structure in America uses to entrap, oppress, and degrade a black underclass which has been systematically ostracized from mainstream American social, political, and economic life.

Islam is about social transformation.  It comes to remove oppression and replace it with justice. Islam never came to appease oppressive power structures but to remove them entirely. Islam is an ever forward movement towards freedom and justice. It comes to replace ignorance with knowledge, replace decadence and immortality with righteousness and piety, and most importantly replace polytheism and atheism with the pure worship of one God.  Islam teaches its adherents to fight in the cause of the oppressed, the weak, and the downtrodden.

In pursuit of this Qur’anic ascribed agenda Muslims must see the need to shine the light of Islam throughout the oppressed ghettos of America.

And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the Cause of Allâh, and for those weak, illtreated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help.” 4:75 Qur’an

The Black Dawah Network believes that within the most dangerous hoods, those Black communities with high concentrations of poverty, home to recurring homicidal gang conflicts, police terrorism is the norm, where bullets take the lives of innocents, drug addiction and the drug economy go hand in hand-that Muslims should be giving Dawah to Islam.

Indeed, it is high time that Muslims heed the word of Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association, who declared in their Champion Newspaper,  “The Negro is crying out for a Muhammad, a Prophet to come forth and give him the Qur’an of economic and intellectual warfare.”

From Southside Chicago to Compton, from Baltimore to South Memphis, Black people throughout America have been confined to impoverished ghettoes wherein the drug economy is king, gang violence rules, and too many Black youth expect to end up dead, in prison or both. This is the reality of Black youth life for in the ghetto. Consequently, it should be a goal that Muslims strive to free these communities from their oppression with the establishment of Islam.

Islam has the transformative power to turn the junkie on the corner into a scholar, to instill the spirit of brotherhood and unity amongst feuding gangs, and  to instill within a marginalized population, the courageous spirit, discipline, and determination to confront their oppressors and to  overcome the systemic forces that create, maintain, and perpetuate the maintenance of the ghetto. However, whether this potential is actualized will depend upon the actions of Black Muslim themselves.

If we are just content with primarily working in colonized immigrant Muslim institutions that do not have the interest of the oppressed black masses at heart and work towards assimilation with the white power structure of America–then this potential will never be actualized. And if this is the case, Islam in Black “America” will be a fading memory, we will be left to the nostalgia of the good days about Ali and Malcolm X and other cultural celebrations of Black Muslim identity all without an actual agenda or plan to push Islam forward in the Black community in the 21st century.

But it does not have to be that way.  We can change this trajectory! It will require the strength and conviction that our people are known for.  It will require Dawah like never before and a concentrated effort at expanding Islamic outreach in the most oppressed Black communities.

We are taught in Islam that should a people abandon their religion, Allah will raise up a new people who love Allah(swt)  to carry own the work for the rise of Islam, who do not fear nor concern themselves with the criticism of any critic. The Black Dawah Network contends that within the ghettos of America,  the victims of white capitalism, a class of people can emerge that can carry on the banner of Islam.

The Sahabah, the companions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, were concerned with the growth and development of Islam throughout the world. The time has come to carry on this mission, to establish Islam in the ghetto.  It is the last hope of our people. It is the faith that can enable and facilitate the liberation of masses of Black people who are trapped in lives of misery and despair.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, once went to the hostile city of Taif to invite the people to submit to their Creator. The residents of the city violently threw stones at him causing him physical pain. Yet, afterwards, the Prophet(pbuh) merely expressed that so long as Allah(swt) was not displeased with him he did not care what he faced from those people. When an angel arrived asking the Prophet(pbuh) if he wanted Allah(swt) to destroy the city in response to what they had subjected him to, the Prophet (pbuh) indicated he did not want this to happen explaining perhaps one day the city would be Muslim. And indeed, today, the city is all Muslims.

It is with this energy, that Muslims must go into the hostile ghettos of Black America to invite people to submit to their creator. We must see in the local drill rapper whose every lyric glorifies violence the potential to one day be a scholar of this faith and we must see in the low-level drug dealer on the block the potential one day to live a life of piety and  moral excellence. We must direct dawah towards the Black poor and disenfranchised, in the most hostile of blocks, be willing to endure whatever persecution and hardship comes our way and withstand the criticism of any critic. Therefore, lets us go from Atgelds Garden in Chicago to the Baisley Housing Projects of Queens, New York, let us go from Compton to South Memphis, and every hood in America giving dawah to Islam and working tirelessly towards Islamic outreach to the hood with Allah’s blessing every step of the way.

The Mind of a Black Radical Comic #1: Crying Over McCain.

 

 

 

Why Chicago’s Gang Problem is White

 

In a recent op-ed about Chicago’s epidemic of gang-violence, former Fox News conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly wrote, “the criminals causing the destruction are largely comprised of Black street gang members who sell narcotics in poor, minority neighborhoods.” He describes Black youth caught up in Chicago’s gang warfares as, “callous, violent individuals who have no regard for human life.”   O’Reilly advocates prison as the only solution, “Those gang members killing innocents are evil and no social program will change that. They should be locked away for decades.”  

When many think of Chicago’s “gang problem”, they think of the Gangsta Disciples, Black Disciples, Four Corner Hustlers, Vice Lords, Black Stones and other street organizations that run Chicago’s impoverished Black communities. But anyone who really wants to solve a problem knows you have to get to the root of the matter to really solve a problem.  The roots of Chicago’s gang problem are deep, decades deep, almost a century deep. Long before Black street organizations ascended to prominence, Chicago’s streets were made bloody by white gangs who massacred the city’s Black population. Indeed, it is the white gang-violence inflicted on Chicago’s Black populations that laid the foundation for the socio economic conditions for the contemporary violence seen in the Black community.

As my people began migrating to north from the South, the Chicago Tribune began running sensationalist headlines, “Half a million darkies from Dixie swarm to the north to better themselves” suggesting that Blacks were ‘infecting” the city.  In response, white gangs began to bomb Black households in an effort to systematically drive them out of Chicago .

In 1917, Mrs. S. P. Motley’s house was bombed, the next year 25 more houses were bombed, whites would also send threatening messages to Black homes in other areas, “Look out; you’re next” and “We are going to blow these flats to hell and if you don’t want to go with them you had better move out.” Tragically,  in 1919, a six year old girl was killed in a bombing.

These bombings, shootings, and arsons of Black communities were ultimately linked to Irish gangs.  In Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919, historian William M. Tuttle writes “These gangs, composed of white teenagers and young men in their twenties, many of the roughest of whom were of Irish descent, had terrorized Black people for years.”

What is particularly troubling is that not only were these individuals who carried out massacres of black neighborhoods not prosecuted for their crimes, but they would later be actively recruited into Chicago’s Police Department.  Criminal Justice Professor, John M. Hagedorn writes that the very same Irish gang which was a “violent racist tool to enforce segregation,” would be “reinvented as the Chicago Police Department.”

Thus from its earliest days, Chicago’s police department had members with the blood of innocent Black people on their hands and they recruited from white gangs who terrorized Black communities.  The decision of the Chicago Police Department to recruit from among white racist gangs would instill an anti-black culture in the entire institution.

As someone of Irish heritage himself, O’reilly would do well to reflect on the differing reactions of the city in responses Irish gang violence and that of Black gang violence.

The Chicago Housing Authority as an Anti-Black Gang

A Gang is defined broadly as an organized body of criminals who engaged in criminal activities. When one considers the rampant structural violence that has sentenced Black chicagoans to slow deaths, the Chicago Housing Authority fits fairly within this definition of a gang.  In the 1950’s, the Chicago Housing Authority established a segregated residential area for Black people. They built the community on a landfill in a toxic area surrounded with chemical waste incinerators and abandoned dumps with poisonous waste.

According to Environmental Justice Atlas, “Altgeld gardens had the highest concentration of hazardous waste sites in the nation.”  As a result of these environmental conditions,  residents of this area have an extremely high rate of children born with brain tumor, rare birth defects, asthma, and  large number of fetuses of mothers in the area were aborted because of brains developing outside of the skull.

Though Altgeld Garden was originally built as amo segregated community, the passage of civil rights legislation did nothing to remove or enable black  people from this community to escape the segregated conditions they had been placed within.

In a study of the impact of the Fair Housing Act passed in Chicago to outlaw racial discrimination, sociologist Douglass S. Massey notes that, due to practices such as redlining, racial steering, and blockbusting that developed in the Post-Jim Crow era, “the level of black-white segregation has hardly changed.” In fact, if current trends continue, blacks in Chicago’s south and westside neighborhoods will still be de facto segregated groups for decades into the future.

Thus, contrary to the assertions of Bill  O’reilly, historically speaking the real criminals of Chicago have been of white ancestry. They have used their power to terrorize black people, inhibit their social mobility, and force them in neighborhoods unfit for human habitability. It is the wretched conditions that Blacks have been forced to live within that has forced so many oppressed black youth into gangs and the drug economy for pure survival. While one may look at Chicago’s gang problem as a black phenonoman, the reality is  its origins are white.

 

Chicago’s Violence: What the White Media Leaves Out!

On August 6th, the media reported that  72 people were shot with 13 killed over the weekend in Chicago. This is nothing new in that city’s poor Black communities that have become known for its weekend shootouts that shatter one record of carnage after another.  The bloodshed has become the subject of local hip-hop lyrics.

In Red Snow, rap artist G-Herbo vividly describes the wretched social conditions impacting  Black people in Chicago. G-Herbo raps “I was born in the slums through the drugs and the bums.  Lookin’ up to thugs with the guns.”

Though the city is notorious for its harsh blizzards, G-Hebro states in his part of town,“we got red snow.”   Red snow comes from the unnecessary blood loss of Black youth that has mixed with snow.

The number of homicides in Chicago has outpaced the number of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Which means in some sense, it was safer for a Black man to have been in Iraq and Afghanistan than on the streets of Chicago.

G-Herbo’s rap video contains imagery of stabbings, shootouts, armed robberies and a whole host of violence that resulted in Black neighborhoods being called  Chiraq, a term used by Black Chicagoans to highlight how their community has more in common with war torn countries like Iraq than mainstream America.

As Chicago’s weekend violence became another one for the books, white news reporters and political leaders, made a plethora of statements that demonstrate how totally ignorant they are about race based inequality and the violence it breeds.  They proved over and over again that they were totally clueless about the oppression at the root of Chicago’s violence.

The White Lies of Rahm Emanuel 

 Attempting to provide an explanation for the origins of the Chicago violence, Chicago’s white mayor, Rahm Emanuel argued that there are “too many people with guns on the streets, too many people with criminal records on the street, and there is a shortage of values about what is right and what is wrong.”

Let’s talk about values Mayor Emanuel.  Chicago has an entire history of creating the conditions of poverty and segregation at the root of the contemporary violence in Chicago today.   Chicago Housing Authority(CHA) from its inception imposed the neighborhood composition rule mandating that Black migrants to Chicago live in a segregated neighborhood.  The housing that were set aside for Blacks was decrepit; many apartments lacked plumbing and far below the requirements for healthy sanitation. CHA would even neglect to give some Black communities the benefits of regular garbage disposals.

In Chicago’s Wall: Race, Segregation and the Chicago Housing Authority, researcher  Woosester researcher David Greetham concluded the entire Chicago Housing Authority became a white  tool to segregate, confine, and conceal Chicago’s burgeoning African American population.” Additionally, as a result of this history of discriminatory policies, in a study by sociologist Douglas Massey, in  American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass, he concluded that Blacks in Chicago at current trends will still be in a segregated state far off into the future in 2042.

In 2016  a report, Young, Black and Out of Work by the University of Illinois Chicago Great Cities Initiative shows the value your city has for its young Black men.  The report concluded there is a crisis facing young Black men in the Windy City. Here are the facts.

Almost half – 47 percent – of young black men from the ages of 20 and 24 were out of school and unemployed in 2014.  For both men and women, age 20 to 24, 41 percent were unemployed and out of school.

Meanwhile, only 7 percent of white men and women in that age group were jobless and out of school. For Latinos, the rate was 19 percent.  Let’s look at what the United States did for Iraq. The U.S. spent an estimated three trillion dollars on blowing up and then “rebuilding” Iraq. Right in Chicago, the National Laboratory and Boeing Corporation  manufactured lethal weapons such as the B-2 stealth bomber and  f-16, both of which are utilized in the war of Iraq.  What does that say about the values of Chicago? 

Instead of moralizing  about the lack of values in Chicago’s black neighborhoods, Emanuel should be focused on unraveling the structures of white supremacy that created the violent conditions in the ghetto in the first place. 

 CBS inept questioning of Oppressed Black Youth 

In another display of complete ineptitude, Chicago news station, CBS, interviewed several gang members from the Englewood community on resolving the city’s violence.   CBS sent white reporters completely disconnected from the reality of structural racism to ask oppressed Black youth questions like  “What makes you guys tick?”. The young Chicagoan responded, “We’ve got to eat…We want to. We want money. Rob, steal and kill. That’s the only way. We didn’t grow up in Beverly Hills. We don’t get it handed to us.”  When asked about the solution to the violence, one oppressed Black youth responded “There’s no solution to the violence. Killing, killing is the solution.”

Another oppressed Black youth declared, “The police hate us….Every time they ride past us, they shoot us down and do all that..We’re not scare of you all. I laugh at the police. They’re a joke to me.”

What the CBS report failed to mention is that though Englewood today is predominately Black and among the poorest Black communities in the world, it was once predominately white and affluent. When integration took place and Blacks began to move in Englewood, whites formed a neighborhood associations with slogans like: “America for whites, Africa The Only Place for Niggers.” In order to keep Black people out, whites organized mass anti-integration protests, with one protestor stating in 1949,  “We don’t want them, we don’t want to live with them. I think they’re savages.”

After a mere rumor that a house in Englewood was going to be purchased by a Black family, whites began to carry out arsons, physical assaults and even bombings of  Black residents for simply trying to live their lives. After putting up posters saying “NEGROES INVADING” a bunch of white racists came together initiating what has become known as the “Englewood Race Riots of 1949”.

And what did the police do as the Black community was being attacked by white racists?  Nothing, plain and simple. What they did do was encourage white rioters to be more belligerent.  What does this say about your city’s values?   

This should come as no surprise when one considers that as Irish gangs began carrying out massacres against Black people as early as 1919, the Chicago Police Department instead of arresting them, recruited them en-masse into the department.  Criminal justice professor, John M. Hagedorn wrote “the Irish gang, in effect, was reinvented as the Chicago Police Department.” Again, Emanuel what does this say about your city’s values? 

                                                                      Chicago Police: Setting Up Oppressed Black Youth to Commit Crime 

Instead of working to atone for this shameful history of racism, instead of helping to find jobs for the unemployed, instead of helping to get the young men back in school, the Chicago Police Department as recently as August 2nd decided to park a “bait truck” filled with Nike shoes outside of Englewood’s basketball court with hopes of entrapping oppressed Black youth with the temptation to steal so they could be arrested.

Thus is it any wonder why oppressed Black youth have no respect for the Chicago police, and hate the Chicago police?

While white bourgeoisie news reporters and white politicians feign cluelessness to the root causes of the epidemic of Chicago’s gang  violence, it it high time that whites start examining their own history of violence, both physical and structural, directed towards Chicago’s black communities which is the violence which produced the violence.  In other words, we are witnessing the hate, that hate produced. The number one problem facing Black Chicagoans is the value system of white supremacy enforced by the government, city agencies, and all

Lil Jojo and the White Origins of Chiraq’s Gang Warfare.

Killing is the solution.”These were the blunt words of a Chicago Englewood Gang-Banger. White middle-class news reporters had the audacity to bombard these oppressed youth with a variety of questions that demonstrated the fact that  they were totally ignorant to the concept of racial based inequality and the behavior it breeds; it proved they really were totally clueless about the upbringing and oppression that these youth were facing.
Questions like, “What makes you guys tick?” were brought up by “reputable” news sources, obviously employed by those lacking even a basic grasp of sociology.The young Chicagoan responded, “We’ve got to eat.,,, We want to. We want money. Rob, steal and kill. That’s the only way. We didn’t grow up in Beverly Hills. We don’t get it handed to us.” Indeed, these youth engage in this anti-social behavior for pure survival, to be able to have food and basic necessities of life.
Tupac Shakur once asked us, “How many brothers fell victim to the streets? Rest in peace young niggas, is there a heaven for a G.”
One of the recent tragedies of Chicago’s streets was the death of an aspiring rapping ‘Lil Jojo’—yet another victim of the streets. He can be seen in his music videos armed with automatic weapons and making threats to his rivals. If you let the mainstream media tell it, ‘JoJo’ was just an ignorant hoodlum savage.  However, one must look at the environment that produced Jojo.
Jojo was from Englewood, one of the lowest income communities in America, and like many that grow up in this community, parents often have drug addictions, are unemployed, and are unable to provide food, shelter, clothes and other basic necessities of life.  As rapper Nas once told us, “Tell me what’s the reason. That your kid is hungry you ain’t got no money, what’s the reason?
  
The legacy of Jim crow and systemic racism is the reason.   Of course, America is often proclaimed to be the land of democracy and equality. We are further told that America is a place where anybody can make it with determination and hard work.
Unfortunately, for right-wing mythology, these perceptions of America are solidly founded upon mistruths, fabrications, distortions, and out-right lies. The fact is that America is a colonial corporate enterprise built on genocide, rape, theft, exploitation and slavery. As the Star-Spangled Banner was being written, African-Americans were out in fields performing slave labor. America has never been the “land of liberty” for the mass amounts of oppressed people;  instead the “land of misery”.   As rapper Nas Informs us, “They call it Thanksgiving, I call your holiday Hellday, ‘cause I’m from poverty; neglected by the wealthy.”

America is not the land of “equality” for African-Americans suffering in internally-destructive colonies, or “ghettos,“ where gangs terrorize the streets and the police “stop and frisk” law is a prerequisite for jail time. The drug economy is the number one employer of the youth in these areas. America is not the land of “equality” for that black single mother who works multiple jobs and is still unable to provide for her children. America is not the land of “equality” for impoverished black teen who participate in an illegal drug economy due to the lack of opportunities in his community.
What options for social mobility were there really ? Sure, Jojo could have sought a job, but since brothers without criminal records are less likely to be hired than whites with criminal records, Jojo (who, in fact, had a criminal history) would have an extremely difficult time finding employment. Plus, what jobs are there really in his community? Millions black workers lose their jobs because their labor is no longer valued. The jobs of the lower-class are now outsourced to the third world. Capitalists want to make more money and the jobs African-Americans need to provide for their families does not matter to them; it’s not even a remote thought when it comes to their business strategy.
Moreover,  even if Jojo had found a job, his labor would be exploited by capitalists while he made minimum wage, still unable earn enough to have the basic necessities in life. As Big L, an urban rapper informs us, “:”How the hell I’m gonna make end’s meet, makin about $120 dollars a week? Man, I’d rather do another hit; I want clean clothes, mean hos and all that other shit.”.
Jojo could have gone to school, but Chicago’s educational system is in an absolute state of apartheid in which Selective Enrollment schools (which are disproptionetly white) receive more funding and resources while neighborhood schools are neglected, given old textbooks, and broken down supplies. What reason is there to go to school on an empty stomach to receive a lackluster education? More than half of black youth drop out of these neighborhood schools..Dead Prez once told us, “They schools can’t teach us shit. My people trynna get all we can get. All my high school teachers can suck my dick. Telling me white man’s lies straight bullshit.”
Thus, one day, a hungry Jojo made the decisions to go along with his peers who were making fast money via an underground illegal drug economy having the latest clothes, women, and an excess money. Plus they were well respected and feared on a dangerous block (thus adding a sense of security). Why not join a gang?
 Gangs are a way in which oppressed youth experience a bond . They come together and form a connection. This replaces the needs to climb  up the socio-economic ladder the legal way. Most African Americans live in isolated ghettos struggling for basic human necessities such as housing, health care, food and clothing. Joining a gang is the only hope for some people to have access to those things.
 White folk’s “recession” translated to African-Americans depression.  Whites have 20 times the wealth of African Americans, and the average white newlywed couple has 12 times the net-worth of African American families. While white folks were facing job insecurity for the first time and worried that they would be unable to pay the mortgage, African-Americans like Jojo and his family were had no job or house to lose. Thus, Jojo joined a gang. After, Chief Keef signed a record deal and went from rags to riches in no time, many other Englewood natives wanted to aspire to be like him, following in his foot-steps.
Jojo was one of these people, and he was motivated by his hatred of the ‘Black Disciples,” Chief Keef’s gang, which wars with Jojo’s gang over control of drug blocks. Thus, Jojo made videos dissing the Black Disciples and can be seen in his rap videos brandishing guns. Jojo’s older brother had this to say about the videos:
“It was a character and just an image that he was giving, because that image is hot. We’re not from the North Side. We’re not from the nice community. We’re from the ’hood. We’re from where mothafuckas are hungry and ain’t got shit and it’s a matter of whether you’re a nigga that do eat or don’t. The nigga that eat do negative things to get it.”
Jojo, was hoping that he would be signed to a major record deal like Chief Keef by his music recordings that he uploaded to YouTube.
Chief Keef represents ‘300’ and Lamron in his songs which represents Englewood’s Normal Ave-  the Englewood faction of the Black Disciples.  Chief Keef and Jojo belonged to two different, warring gangs that competed for drug blocks. In response to Jojo’s death, Chief Keef stated that, ““Its Sad Cuz Dat Nigga jojo Wanted to Be Jus Like Us #LMAO.” Chief Keef’s account was apparently hacked when this statement was made but it still was made by someone and as disgusting as this response is, both him and Jojo are victims of a centuries-long cycle of racial oppression which allows for mentalities like this to flourish
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Lil Reese & The white origins of Chriaq’s gang wars.

I lost so many niggas, turned into a savage.

In real life, no movie shit, bitch we clap.

Where I’m from? Chiraq……..

..300 Normal Spelled Backwards.—Lil Reese

Many people growing up in Chiraq have lost many friends and relatives from the ensuing gang wars. Lil Reese indicates that he too has been affected by this and states that this is reality, not ‘movie shit.’ He’s done this in efforts to distinguish himself from  your typical studio-gangsters who make idle threats and appear ‘thugish’ in rap videos only to go back to their fancy homes after the video shoot to a full refrigerator and comfortable couches in the suburbs.

His phrase ‘turned into a savage’ refers to the mentality that many people in his crew have developed from living in such appalling social conditions. A recent study indicates that black youth in Chiraq who are exposed to such violence develop post-traumatic stress disorders comparable to troops returning home from military combat. However, for these youth, this isn’t ‘post-traumatic’ because this violence is a continuous cycle that takes place in their neighborhood everyday. Further, unlike military troops, these youth never receive visits from psychologists to aid them. As Lil Reese stated, “A body getting dropped everyday – this shit is real.”

A body getting dropped refers to people dying from gunshots. The sad truth is that many youth have absolutely nothing to lose within the confides of the current social system. Indeed, when you watch a Lil Reese video, in his hood you’ll see many shirts displaying “R.I.P.” to the names of various friends and “Free”  to the names of various people locked away.

Both Chief Keef and Lil Reese grew up in Englewood. They would probably be surprised to hear that their now impoverished and violent community was once predominately white and affluent. Moreover, in addition to being mostly white, it was once a stronghold for the Ku Klux Klan. As America began to integrate and African-Americans entered deep into the Chicago areas—this once predominately white area began organizing violently against the African-American communities. They then formed a neighborhood associations with slogans like: “America for whites, Africa The Only Place for Niggers.”  They then went on to say “We don’t want them, we don’t want to live with them. I think they’re savages.” While these whites portrayed African-Americans as savages, all the behavior that whites partook in to defend against integration were of that very nature. After a rumor that a house in Englewood was going to be purchased by a black family, whites began to carry out bombings, physical assaults, and arson on black residents for simply trying to live their lives. After putting up posters saying “NEGROES INVADING” a bunch of white racists came together starting the “EngleWood Race Riots of 1949”. As African-Americans continued to move in, “a white plight” took place as whites moved to suburban areas, leaving the black community in absolute turmoil, chaos, and social decay.

Now, I’ve constantly heard the argument that goes something like this: “Lil Reese was born in 1993, those riots took place in 1949.” As if it had no effect on him.  White people had the benefit of passing wealth to their children who could then pass it on to their children; they also had the luxury of a stable home and other infrastructure. As a result of these race riots, blacks who were affected   were not given the same opportunities nor has the racist system that has been designed to disenfranchise blacks from employment been abolished. These riots and systemic obstacles left the black community in absolute economic turmoil. The poverty that resulted from it allowed the illegal economy to takeover as the number one employer for black youth. Similarly, when peaceful African-Americans first moved to Englewood, a racist of the white, anti-intergrationist stated that” I think they[Blacks] are savages.” Now, over 30 years later Lil Reese embraces this image, stating that “I lost so many niggas, turned into a savage.”  The forces of white supremacy turns oppressed Black people into savages creating the conditions for gang warfare in black communities.

The Trial of Assata Shakur by Black Legal Talk.

In this episode of Black Legal Talk, The Trial of Assata Shakur, Northeastern Law Student Ezinne Adi speaks with Final Call Journalist Nisa Islam on her historic interview of Black Liberation Army, soldier, Assata Shakur. Nisa Islam was privileged to be one of the few Journalist to conduct an interview of Assata Shakur and discusses her experience with Black Legal Talk. After Ezinne Adi and Nisa Islam discuss Assata Shakur, Northeastern Law Student Hakeem Muhammad provides a legal analysis of the trial of Assata Shakur and the various law suits Assata Shakur brought forth to fight for her freedom.

In Honor of Safiya Bukhari