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Abdullah Andalusi to Moinul Abū Hamza: Exemplifying Colonized Muslim Ignorance of Black Political Thought

 

In my article, Why Muslims Need Critical Race Theory, I responded to claims of various Muslim public speakers who have offered very shallow criticisms of critical race theory. In this article, I will further elaborate on the shallowness of their understanding of critical race theory and the dire social consequences of Muslims not engaging with Black political thought in a meaningful way.

Muslim have a very important responsibility to challenge oppression, tyranny, and injustice. African-American legal scholars pioneered critical race theory  to study how after the passage of civil rights legislation, the social mobility of African-Americans continued to be inhibited by defacto racial discrimination.

That is, as opposed to de’jure or legalistic racial discrimination, in which you have black codes and jjim crow laws that mandate segregated and unequal standards of living for African-Americans, critical race theorists posit that structural racism shifted in its mondus operani. An example they cite are  redlining and blockbusting replaced “no blacks allowed sign” as mechanisms to maintain racially segregated housing.

Critical race theory offers insights into 1) how structural racism can function absent laws mandating racial segregation and 2) how the removal of racist laws by Supreme Court were motivated by the need for America’s to clean up its image on an international level than a serious effort to end structural racism against African-Americans. 

Dismissing this entire body of African-American political thought, Abdullah Andalusi states “Don’t bring critical race theory into Islamic discussions” and that  “the western social justice warrior concept of racism coming from what they call critical race theory which is the ideological concept they come up with starts discriminating right off the back.”

 Islam is a faith that obligates challenging oppression and injustice.  On what basis does critical race theory have no basis in Islamic discussions when it is fundamentally an African-American critique of being subjugated in a western-liberal state in which structural racism continues to have dire consequences even in a post jim crow era?  

The only  that is demonstrated “‘right off the back’ is that Abdullah Andalusi’s understanding of critical race theory is derived from social media online caricatures. His critique demonstrates that he has had no serious academic engagement with the works of African-American legal scholars and philosophers who pioneered critical race theory.

Far from being western, critical race theory emerges among African-American legal scholars who while in what is dubbed “the west” as a result of forced migration, have been politically, economically, and socially outside of mainstream “western” society. Critical Race Theory is fundamentally a critique of how liberal European settler colonies such as the United States are organized around the concept of race and how even in a post black code & jim-crow era, structural racism has merely shifted from de’jure to defacto.

 With no serious engagement as to what critical race theory is, Abdullah Andalusi is accusing critical race theory, which is used by African-American legal scholars to analyze how racial discrimination can function on a defaco level as opposed to de’jure level of “perpetrating discrimination.” This is because he has not take the time to learn as to what critical race theory even is nor engage with it in a serious way. 

Critical race theory is a critique of how liberal European settler colonies are able to maintain systems of structural racism through non-legalistic means. Critical race theory emerges from the failure of civil rights legislation in the United States to adequately alleviate structural racism. Abdullah Andalusi responds to this by essentially discussing how in Islam  “we are all the human race, how we all come from Adam, and how we are all one human.”

This statement would be less non-sequitur if Abdullah Andalusi was juxtaposing how Islam would not organize a society based upon notions of race but higher ideals of piety.   However, this is not what Abdullah Andalusi does. Instead, he suggests that those who are making a criticism of the very real subjugation that occurs as a result of the decision of liberal European settler colonies to organize around race are themselves reinforcing racism because “in a way, using the word racism is racist if you say you’re discriminating against black people, your saying they are a different race. We are all the same race.”

Using the word racism does not mean one must accept race as a biological reality. Rather, one can acknowledge that race is a fictitious construct, yet use the word racism to describe the very real inequities and oppression that manifest  as a result of the decision of European settler colonies to organize around race. 

What’s remarkable is that Abdullah Andalusi is not consistent in terms of his line argumentation.   He erroneously labels CRT as “western” and insinuates that it comes from ‘the west.’  Similarly, Moniul Abu Hamza in response to my article refers to critical race theory as a western theory. 

The same questions can be returned to both Abdullah Andalusi and Moniul Abu Hamza. Why are you talking about “the west”? “The west” isn’t a valid biological or historical construct. The term “the west” is typically used by many Western Europeans to pretend they had some historical connection to ancient Greek to deny their barbarian roots.

The notion of “the west” is just as much as “fictitious” or `”non-biological” construct as race. Yet Abdullah Andalusi and Moniul Abu Hamza continue to see value in using the term “the west.” Their overzealous usage of the term ‘the west’ even causes them to  erroneously label critical race theory as “western thought?” Derrick Bell, the black legal scholar who pioneered critical race theory, would likely tell you that critical race theory is a critique of Black folks of being subjugated in a western liberal state. 

Why does not using the term “the west” reinforce the notion that the west actually exist by reinforcing European cartography and a western/non-west binary of the world?

Let’s continue: why should Muslims criticize the inequities of capitalism through fractional reserve banking and the system of speculative assets? Don’t you know speculative assets aren’t real? Islamic economists critiquing a system of speculative assets only reinforce  the notion that speculative assets are indeed real.

The point is that things that are not real can still have dire social consequences and talking about it is not a reinforcement of it.  Moinul Abū Hamza writes concerning the article:

Moinul Abū Hamza, a critic of the Why Muslims Need Critical Race Theory article.

 

“A study of how the West looks into the mirror from a western lens and seeks to adjusts itself from both ends of the human extremes. Basically an effort to redress the balance on a faulty scale void of morals and divine guidance. I’m surprised how Muslims find utility in every other book and author other than Allah (swa)’s book. But these are the times of confusion. We can’t even agree on what day of the week it is. We fall for anything. That’s my opinion in brief, I’m building on my understanding out in the real world outside of WordPress jihad and if you agree with the article, you are oh so welcome to inject yourselves and your children and pollute your circle of friends, just make sure your children are duat, your wife still wears hijab, and they don’t end up applying the same theories on to the Quran and taking issue. Eventually. Allah did not send a book and another book to explain it. Because this Deen is built on Quranic guidance, an experienced, actualised religion. For me, i’ll take a pass from these theories.”

 

This statement is just stupid. It makes a variety of unfounded assumption.

 

  1. As i’ve explained, Abdullah Andalusi’s arguments concerning how  critical race theorists reinforce race & racism by using the terms are just as applicable to Moniul Abu Hamza’s usage of the term “the West” and “western.”
  2. Critical race theory isn’t liberal or a liberal theory. It is literally a critique among African-American legal scholars of the failure of liberalism to sufficiently address structural racism.
  3. The Qu’ran is a revelation from Allah(swt) that was sent to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.  It provides a system of guidance, ethics,and morals for humans to follow. Critical race theory is a critique by African-American legal scholars of how structural racism of non-Islamic/Secular liberal societies shifted from de’jure to defacto post jim-crow and black codes. Critical race theory offers theories concerning of how structural racism can exist in a society absent a legalistic mechanism.  
  4. Derrick Bell and Dr. Charles Mills are critical race theorists/philosophers who are critical of how structural racism functions in the United States. Both the Qu’ran and Prophetic tradition stand strongly opposed to racism.  I’m not aware of any efforts of critical race theorists to critique the Qu’ran. I as an African-American Muslim, accept the underlying premises of critical race theory and obviously believe Islamic ethics are an alternative to the problems critical race theory identifies.

As i’ve stated, critical race theory certainly is not infallible. I’m willing and open to hear an Islamic critique of critical race theory.  However, I have not seen any real critique of critical race theory from its Muslim critiques that would even demonstrate  that they know what critical race theory is.  When Ibn Taymiyya sought to refute the Greek logicians, he actually studied the arguments of the Greek logicians. In Incoherence of the Philosophers, Al-Ghazali actually had to study and know Greek thought. Now, we have Muslims attempting to refute “critical race theory” without even bothering to study critical race theory and have no clue as to what critical race theory even is. Pathetic.

 

Why Muslims Need Critical Race Theory  

I am a Muslim. As a profession, I have also taught and lectured extensively on Black Political Thought including Critical Race theory at universities from U.C Berkeley to  Harvard University. Critical Race theory posits that even in a post-Jim Crow era, structural racism continues to operate on a defacto as opposed to de jure level with detrimental impacts to the standard of living, quality of life and access to opportunities for African-Americans.

As someone who works in many impoverished inner-city African-American neighborhoods on a grassroots level, I believe critical race theory, while certainly not infallible, offers valuable political insights that Muslims should study and engage with in a meaningful way.

Recently, there have been many Muslims who engage in Dawah who have endeavored to pushback against Muslim social justice activists who have adopted liberal or leftist political frameworks. In such critiques, Muslim public figures such as Daniel Haqiqatjou, Imam Zaid Shakir, Abdullah Andalusi, Ismail Royer,  Nour Goda, among others, have sought to critique critical race theory. They categorize critical race theory as being a liberal or leftist political framework. 

In their critiques, however, they have only demonstrated an immense ignorance as to what critical race theory even is. Their critiques are replete with intellectual laziness that only demonstrate they have not even bothered to read nor study  foundational works of critical race theory.  This article aims to 1) explain how such Muslims public speakers fundamentally misunderstand critical race theory and 2)explain how critical race theory bolsters Islamic critiques of liberalism.

The Ignorance of Muslim Opposition to Critical Race Theory

Daniel Haqiqatjou has stated that “Insofar as our dawah abandons the Qur’an and, instead, aligns with leftist activism with its reliance on critical race theory, decolonial studies, intersectional gender justice nonsense, etc., the less effective it will be. In fact, it will not be dawah at all. It will just be victimhood whining, which only breeds more resentment and hatred of Muslims and Islam.

In another lecture titled The Middle Way, Abdullah Andalusi writes that  “Islam doesnt have a word for racism….We are all human race.  Humans tend to hate each other based on tribe. It’s not limited to melanin in skin. People of the same ethnic group, same religion, but different tribes can hate each other just as much as a white supremacist hate immigrant.  The western social justice warrior concept of racism coming from critical race theory starts discriminating off the back.”

The characterization of critical race theory as being liberal or western is grotesquely inaccurate. Critical race theory emerged as a critique of the inability of liberalism and liberal political strategies to alleviate the structural racism facing African-American communities.

Critical race theory posits that liberal political reformist maneuvers in the form of civil rights legislation that prohibited de’jure racial discrimination only merely shifted it from de’jure to defacto.

For example, racially restrictive covenants made it impossible for African-Americans to move into neighborhoods which were designated as “white only.” African-American residential homes were often placed by city agencies near toxic waste dumps. African-Americans were often denied essential social services such as plumbing and garbage disposal services.

The Fair Housing Act outlawed these practices. Yet, critical race theory examines the ways how even after racial discrimination was formally outlawed, racial discrimination in housing continued via blockbusting and redlining, without a formal legal mechanism mandating such segregated policies.  

The origins of critical race theory traces its origins to African-American legal scholar, Derrick Bell, who once worked as an attorney for the National Association For the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP). Bell was part of the legal team that sought to end racial discrimination in schooling. This culminated in the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education which prohibited racially segregated schools.

In later writings which serve as the beginning of what is dubbed critical race theory, Bell reflected upon his work in the NAACP in more critical ways.   In fighting to end racially segregated schools, Bell stated the NAACP legal strategy relied upon the argument that racial discrimination in schooling would hurt America’s image in the cold war.  

Bell argues that the ultimate decision of the Supreme Court to end de’jure racial discrimination was facilitated by the need for the United States to better improve its image to newly decolonized nations in the cold war. It was not driven primarily by the fact that racial discrimination was inherently wrong. Bell believed much of his former work in the NAACP was ineffective in resolving structural racism in a meaningful way.

The second part of Bell’s analysis posits that structural racism is able to maintain itself even after legalized racial discrimination came to an end.  As proof, Bell cites data that indicated schools continued to be just as racially segregated even after the Brown vs. Board of Education declared racial segregation in schooling to be unconstitutional.

Now the question is this: what in Bell’s theory violates any tenet of Islam? What in this theory is liberal? What in this theory exactly is western? In fact, Bell is critiquing the inability of a western liberal state to resolve structural racism of a meaningful level.

Malcolm X, made similar critiques when he stated that “Washington, D.C tries to pacify our people with deceitful promises of tricky, civil rights legislation” and  “civil rights legislation will never solve our problem.” In fact, one can argue that it many ways Malcolm X’s critiques of the mainstream civil rights theory served a precursor to much of Bell’s writings.

In his lecture, Abdullah Al AnDalusi accuses critical race theory, a theory of African-American legal scholars to analyze structural racism in a post jim crow era as being the culprit in “perpetrating discrimination.”

Is Critical Race Theory Liberal?

There have been efforts of Muslim public thinkers to claim somehow that critical race theory is western or liberal, and this has the impact of undermining Islamic ethics. Ismail Royer, an American convert to Islam and Research and Program Associate at the Religious Freedom Institute, writes that “The paradox about these absurd attacks on American Muslim politicians/activists is that there activism actually involves undermining Islam with their “intersectional feminism” and critical race theory.”

Abdullah Andalusi also argues that critical race theory is somehow liberal or western in his lecture the Middle Way. The reality is that critical race theory has been highly critical of liberalism’s foundational founders.  African-American political theorist and critical race theorist, Dr. Charles Mills. for example has brilliantly critiqued how Immanuel Kant once wrote a treatise on how to properly beat African slaves with split bamboo to extract better labor from them and the implications this has on his categorical imperative theory.

Dr. Charles Mills writes that “Kant believed in a natural racial hierarchy, with whites at the top, and blacks and Native-Americans at the bottom. He saw the last two races as natural slaves.”

Critical Race theorists have been highly critical of John Lcoke. In his book The Critique of Racial Liberalism, Dr. Charles Mills  “John Locke invests in African slavery and justifies the aborignal expropritation; Immanuel kant turns out to be one of the pioneering theorists of modern “scientific racism“…liberalism needs to be reconceptualized as ideologically central to the imperial project.”

Critical race theorists have been critical of the ways in which John Locke introduced into the fundamental constitutions of Carolina in 1669, the right of white men to have “absolute power over their African slaves, and thus the right to kill their slaves with impunity.”

Several critical race theorists have noted that slavery has existed throughout history but was not always based upon race. They have noted and critique John Locke specifically as being  “an architect of the new race-based slavery.”

The Political Reality of Global White Supremacy

Critical Race theorists use the term white supremacy to identify the power system that has shaped the modern world. By white supremacist, they do not mean fringe figures such as an EDL or KKK members. They mean the essential thinkers that have shaped the modern world– Kant, Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Dr. Charles Mills defines white supremacy as “the system of domination by which white people have historically ruled over and, in certain important ways, continue to rule over nonwhite people.”

In a discussion with Abdullah Andalusi, he writes that  “CRT is problematic for two reasons, it creates a category called “whiteness” & ascribes to it culture and beliefs when visually low melaninated skin clearly has no connection to beliefs, culture.”

This is simply false. Critical race theorists are not the ones who created a category called whiteness. Derrick Bell, the founder of critical race theory, grew up in the United States, a society organized around the concept of white supremacy and through critical race theory merely analyzed how white supremacy continued even after African-Americans obtained formal, juridical equality.  It is not that Derrick Bell created a category called whiteness.

Rather, Derrick Bell grew up in the United States which through Jim Crow Laws and Black codes were predicated upon upholding a false construct known as whiteness. European settler colonists created a concept known as whiteness and upheld a political construct known as white supremacy in their political relationship with people they designated as non-white.

In this lecture, the Middle Why, Abdullah Andalusi spends time discussing how critical race theorists are in error because race is not a valid biological concept. This is non-sequitur.

Acknowledging that white supremacy as a political reality and to criticize that political arrangement does not require one to believe race has any biological reality. Critical race theory is critique of how European settler colonies have organized societies around race and created detrimental outcomes to groups of people who have been categorized into certain races.

In his lecture, Abdullah Andalusi precedes to talk about poor white people exist in the United States. Again, this is non-sequitur in addressing the basic contention of critical race theory that structural racism against African-Americans continued in a post jim crow era. As a result of the uniqueness of racism, poor whites are not nearly as detrimentally impacted by the rise of the prison industrial complex nor are they as adversely impacted by incidents of police brutality.

Poor whites have access to more opportunities for social economic mobility than do Black people.  Additionally, the existence of poor whites does not refute the fact that white supremacy in white settler colonies organizes distribution of wealth along racial lines.  African-Americans have such minimal wealth that at current trends even two whole centuries from now they will continue to lag behind in terms of household wealth in comparison to whites.

Why Muslims Need Critical Race Theory

Muslim public speakers who are opposed to critical race theory have not offered any meaningful critique of critical race theory that demonstrates that have even studied it. Critical race theory is a very meaningful political tradition for it demonstrates an effort of African-American legal scholars to conceptualize how structural racism could maintain itself even absent a formal legalistic mechanism mandating racial segregation.

Far from being “liberal” or “western”, critical race theorists have criticized the ways in which liberal strategies to resolve structural racism have been ineffective. Critical race theorists have critiqued the founders of liberalism for upholding white supremacy.  Critical race theory is not liberal or western. It is a Black criticism of being subjugated in a liberal-western state in an era in which Black people were told that the end of de’jure racial discrimination would resolve structural racism.

I am open to the possibility of valid criticisms of critical race theory. Unfortunately, the aforementioned criticisms by Muslim public figures of critical race theory which amounts to painting critical race theory as some “liberal social justice warrior nonsense” is not a valid criticism.  It is intellectually lazy and disrespectful to the Black political tradition and Black political thought.

 Such aforementioned criticisms of critical race theory will only result in Muslims being oblivious and complicit in oppression. Muslims have been obligated to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Muslims are obligated to oppose oppression and tyranny whenever it is found. In order to achieve this, Muslims would benefit from the political insights of Derrick Bell and Dr. Charles Mills who have thoroughly dissected how structural racism continues to manifest itself in a post jim-crow era.

In the same way we need Muslim doctors, scientists, mathematicians..etc, we need Muslim critical race theorists. We need Muslims who study how structural racism impacts societies and the world.

How Chicago Violated The Constitutional Rights of Black Men

 

 

Chicago has implemented several laws in a systemic effort to quell gang violence.  One of these laws passed in 1992 was a “gang congregation” ordinance that prohibited loitering together in any public place by two or more people, of whom at least one was a “criminal street gang member.”[1]

The ordinance defined “loitering” as remaining in any one place with no apparent purpose.[2] A police officer who observed a person whom the officer reasonably believed to be a criminal street gang member loitering in a public place with one or more persons was required to order all of the persons to disperse, and any person, regardless of whether the person was a gang member, who disobeyed such a dispersal order was guilty of violating the ordinance.[3] The city cited several justifications for the law: gangs intimidating many law abiding citizens from going out in public and members of gangs establishing control over identifiable areas.

Gangs created a justifiable fear for the safety of persons and property in the area and that “[a]ggressive action is necessary to preserve the city’s streets and other public places so that the public may use such places without fear.”[4] During the years that the laws were implemented, the Chicago Police Department issued 89,000 dispersal orders and arrested over 42,000 people for violating the ordinance.[5]

The law also had several negative impacts as it prevented social workers or family from public interactions with anyone who might be a member of a gang.[6] Another negative impact was that the police were given the discretion to make decisions about who to arrest or convict based on who they thought could be a gang member.[7]

Additionally, gang-related homicides increased during the first two years but decreased during the third year.[8] Furthermore, no causal connection could be drawn that these laws prevented decreased gang violence.[9] Cook County Public Defender, Rita Fry stated regarding Chicago’s Gang Ordinance “thousands of innocents with a police record, a record that can make it more difficult to seek employment, to obtain credit or to access certain benefits.”[10]

Continuing, she adds “the enforcement policy endorsed by the ordinance enhanced the sense of hostility and mistrust between police and young men of color.”[11] This law, which was disproportionately enforced in Chicago’s Black communities and later ruled to be in violation of the constitution, only furthered hindered opportunities for Black social advancement.

The law was viewed as too vague because it prevented law-abiding citizens from being unable to know what conduct the law prohibits and the law gave police “absolute discretion” to decide a loiterer. [12]

 

—————————————————————————————————–

[1] CHI., ILL., MUN. CODE § 8-4-015 (June 17, 1992), invalidated by City of Chicago v. Morales, 527 U.S. 41 (1999) (plurality opinion)

[2] Id

[3] Id

[4] Robert Johnson, Race, Law, And Public Policy, 390, (1990).

[5] Petitioner’s Brief at 10, City of Chicago v. Morales, 527 U.S. 41 (1999) (No. 97-1121)

[6] . City of Chicago v. Morales, 687 N.E.2d 53, 57 (Ill. 1997).

[7]  Id

[8] ACLU, Amicus Brief in Chicago V. Morales, Et. Al., (Oct, 1997).

[9] Id

[10] Id

[11] Id

[12]    

Examining the Constitutional Issues of Chicago’s Gang Congregation Ordinance,http://www.crf-usa.org/images/pdf/challenge/Chicago-Gang-Congregation-Ordinance.pdf

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
.

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

Apartheid in Milwaukee: The Third World Inside America (The Hood Series)

 

Black Life in Milwaukee: The Third World Inside of America 

Surrounded in scenery of dilapidated houses, food and liquor stores;  crumbling infrastructure vandalized by RIP signs that pay tribute to the young victims of fratricidal gang warfare, Milwaukee rapper Gwapo Chapo from the neighborhood of Atkinson Ave spits  that his “Trynna Make it Out The Hood.”Chap’s lyrics represents a plea to transcend a life in wretched social conditions surrounded by economic deprivation, unemployment, poverty, gun violence, drug trafficking, high levels of infant mortality, food deserts, substandard education systems, dilapidated unaffordable housing, police brutality and continued forays with the criminal (in)justice system. To fully understand these wretched conditions that have imposed on black communities requires an examination of history which according to Malcolm X “is best qualified to reward our research.

A Historical Analysis of the Creation of Milwaukee’s Hoods 

In the city of Milwaukee, segregationist city planners placed African-Americans in The North Side  isolated from mainstream White America. In the early 20th century, most African Americans did not migrate to Milwaukee instead venturing to other cities such as Chicago and Detroit. After WWII, Milwaukee began to show a significant increase in its black population. As this happened, redlining and racial covenants only allowed African Americans to purchase homes in the inner city NorthSide “core” that was only limited to a small number of blocks.

As black leaders such as Vel Phillips protested these laws, the city later rioted in August of 1967 forcing a standoff between the black community and its allies and the European immigrant community along with the predominantly white city government. After the assassination of MLK, the Fair Housing Act was passed and racial covenants were declared unconstitutional.

Over the period of the next 50 years, Milwaukee’s black population increased to 40% due to migration from Mississippi and Chicago while a combination of mortgage discrimination, redlining, reverse redlining and white flight has lead the city to become more segregated with a common stereotype in the city “Black people live on the North Side, Latinos on the Southside and White people on the Eastside”. The inner core that black people were once confined to has now expanded in areas in which they were not able to purchase homes in.

Gentrification and Black Annihilation 

For those white people that don’t live in the suburbs of Milwaukee or the outskirts of the city such as West Allis or Greenfield Wisconsin, the main enclave is typically the East Side that is known as the most prosperous part of the city, home to numerous restaurants, tourist attractions, festivals, and art centers.

There is concern the building of the Bucks arena and street car is intended to displace many black communities near Downtown, in order to attract a more wealthier white populace. Riverwest and Harambee , two diverse communities in the Northeast have faced threat of gentrification.

African Americans were and are strategically placed in the region of the city known as “The North Side” 12 of the cities 14 most economically distressed zip codes have at least a population of 50% African Americans with the other two being primarily Hispanic.

Despite the passage of the Fair Housing Act, Milwaukee remains a hyper-segregated city that is reminiscent of a Third World Colony in many areas. Just recently it has been discovered that over 100,000 homes in the city have a problem with lead pipes and soil, primarily in near North Side zipcodes. 

Black Life in the Northside 

The North Side is known for its high levels of economic deprivation, unemployment, poverty, gun violence, drug trafficking, infant mortality, substandard education systems, dilapidated unaffordable housing,  forays with the criminal justice system, police brutality, food deserts, lack of mental health clinics, payday loan stores, and many more. It is not an exaggeration to say that every institution in Milwaukee has failed black people and is not designed for social mobility let alone humanity.

“There’s a difference in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, the state put us up for adoption” – For decades there has been an antagonistic relationship between Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. Blacks in Milwaukee were systematically denied from gaining mortgages and home loans to live in suburbs in Wisconsin leaving suburbs such as Waukesha, Wauwatosa and others to be almost exclusively white. Even on a personal note, these areas are often met with much social hostility when black people venture there whether it be through traffic stops, profiling at stores, etc. On a political level the GOP State Legislature at Governor Scott Walker has continued a negative relationship with Milwaukee to appeal to his Republican base. Through the usage of dog whistle politics, tough on crime measures, voting ID laws, disinvestment for public education, union busting, etc Scott Walker under the dominion of the Koch Brothers has worked tirelessly to further an environment that only benefits the elites and bigots of Wisconsin

Drug Trafficking to Prison 

“The illegal drug trade is the common way in the City of Milwaukee’s African American community of providing the basic financial needs of many residents, and its mere presence is creating instability that is directly related to our violent crime statistics.” said Alderman Joe Davis from Milwaukee

After the deindustrialization that occurred in the 1970s and 80s, the jobless rate for African American males in the city rose to over 50%. With the heroin and crack epidemic emerging, along with migrations from Chicago gangs such as the Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Latin Kings to name a few, the drug economy became one of the predominant sources of income in many of Milwaukee’s oppressed neighborhoods. With it of course is the violence that followed.

Today in Milwaukee while open air drug markets are still in abundance another form of drug dealing that has emerged is that of mobile drug dealing in which dealers use cars with tinted windows that are either stolen or rented to make drug deals all over the city. These transactions are made possible through the use of flip phones (trap phones) that are cheap and not easily detectable by the police, that allows the dealer to communicate with his customer. Due to Milwaukee’s proximity to plentiful predominantly white suburbs, the opioid epidemic has become extremely lucrative with heroin now replacing crack cocaine once again.

In the midst of this, Chapo states that his “tired of getting locked up.” For Black people in Milwaukee, constant forays with the criminal (in)justice system is a frequent reality. A study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee discovered that Wisconsin’s incarceration rates for Black males was double that of America’s  national average.  In particular, 1 of 8 Black men of working age in Milwaukee County has served some time in the state’s correctional facilities at some point in their lives. 

It is no surprise that Milwaukee is hailed as one of the worst cities for Black people in the United States; a city that has profiled and tazed one of its own basketball players. For African Americans and other oppressed populations in Milwaukee such as Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans, the do for self messages of the Organization For Afro-American Unity, Muslim Mosque Incorporated, Black Liberation Army,  The Nation Of Islam, The Uhuru Movement, and The Black Panther Party must be heeded in the sense that black people will have to fight at all cost against racism and capitalism along with adhering to the philosophies of self determination and political, social and economic control of our communities.

Black people in Milwaukee must begin to develop unity and end the social dysfunction that is awry so that radical strategies can be developed to solve these complex issues. The problems in Milwaukee and other cities across the country will not be solved by just politicians or college educated youth from these communities with reformist poltiics. It will require the entire community from the grandma on the block to community activists to even the street soldiers. The struggle in Milwaukee is more than laws and rights as Americans. It’s a struggle for black people to be recognized as humans and not seeds for exploitation and degradation.

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