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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.

 

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
.

Chicago’s Gangs: A Product of Institutionalized Racism

 

            Chicago’s Gangs: A Product of Institutionalized Racism

Chicago is a city infamous for its ruthless gang violence. Even after much legislation attempting to solve the problem, gang warfare is still a destructive force in Chicago’s culture. It continues to squeeze the life out of black youth whose blood has been splattered all across Chicago’s streets. Many black youth grow up in abject poverty and see only two paths for their future: prison or death.Their mothers feel hopeless, as they stand unable to stretch their money for electricity, rent, insurance and food. Black communities endure subpar living conditions as seen through the decaying housing, substandard schools, drugs, and poverty. After examining these appalling social conditions, people often claim that the gangs that terrorize the community with violence are attributed to some “innate”delinquency or aggression amongst black youth. In reality, Chicago street gangs are a product of social conditions created by institutional racism, police brutality, and white vigilantism. Chicago’s state-sanctioned racism produces “thugs” and systematically strips the morality from people and replaces it with a stone cold heart that is seen as necessary to survive on these mean streets.Blacks have been systematically disempowered and live in the most violent areas, not because we are “naturally” aggressive, but because of economic conditions that have been imposed on us by  malicious outside forces.  The obstacles that were, and still are, put in place,  to halt black socioeconomic aspirations,  has resulted in black youth  acquiring detrimental social, economic, and political habits that are exemplified in the gangs that roam Chicago’s streets. The gangs that we have in our community, the bloody knives that lay astray in the pavement, the white chalk on our sidewalks, the yellow tape surrounding vacant lots, and the rapid succession of bullets that are fired at one another are the cumulative effects of systematic institutionalized racism.

                         Chicago: A History of Racist Brutality

 African-Americans that previously resided in the Klan-run South came to Chicago during the great migration, lured in by the promises of jobs and political rights. However, these opportunities were systematically denied. Since blacks have entered this city they have been met with a level of bigotry so disgusting, and so pervasive, that it is a core aspect of Chicago’s culture. African-Americans seeking tocreate a better life would still face the very same racism and violence they found in the south. However, instead of it being by the Klan, it would be by the Chicago Housing authority and white mobgroups. [1]

When blacks first came to Chicago they competed with the Irish over a scarce labor and housing market. In 1919, racial animosity reached a boiling point when a white person hit a blackchild with a rock while he was swimming in Michigan Lake. The black child drowned to death, but the Chicago Police Department refused to arrest the white aggressor. Blacks led a peaceful protest demanding justice, and as a result of their efforts they were viciously attacked by white mob groups. Whites entered the predominately black area on the Southside, terrorizing the black population through arsons and assaults. [2] Nobody, not even children, were spared in the attacks. They even sought to enter a predominately black hospital to terrorize the black patients there. As whites continued to set fire to black neighborhoods, the Chicago Fire Department was not allowed to operate in these communities. [3] Hundreds of African Americans, including women and children, were left homeless on the streets after fires demolished their homes in these senseless attacks. Richard J. Daley was 17 years old at the time and one of the leaders of the Irish Hamburg Athletic Club that led this senseless attack on the black community.  Instead of being punished for these clearly racist attacks, he was made Mayor of Chicago, where he would continue to push and support racist legislation to disenfranchise the black community. [4] Indeed, the white-ran Chicago housing authority from its inception worked to ensure that blacks lived in segregated neighborhoods.

Blacks were confined to the Southside and these areas were treated with inconceivable neglect by government agencies. The “Neighborhood Composition Rule” ordered that housing was to be segregated. This resulted in Black people being segregated in the Southside in what is known as “The Black Belt.”[5] Of course, all of the housing that the Chicago Housing Authority set aside for blacks was decrepit; many apartments lacked plumbing, were overcrowded, and far below requirements for healthy sanitation.[6] Even wealthy blacks were forced into substandard neighborhoods due to racial discrimination. As a direct result of these social conditions, the infant mortality rate for blacks sky-rocketed to well above the national average. Eventually, the neighborhood Composition rule was eventually struck down. This was met by complete outrage by white vigilante groups who, once again, terrorized the local black population with heartless violent confrontations. While blacks were portrayed as being “violent”, many times it was not the “delinquent” black youth attacking innocent peaceful white people but vice-versa. Indeed, during this time blacks lived under increased threats of violence and fear from whites. Blacks had no choice but to live in the ghetto because of the terrorism inflicted by whites against those would dared to live on the outskirts of their state created locus. [7 ]During these times, overt discrimination against blacks reigned supreme in every area of Chicago’s society, such as employment, housing, health care, and every other opportunity for upward social mobility.

Modern Day Disenfranchisement of Blacks in Chicago

In America, the common belief is that Civil Rights legislation ended discrimination against African-Americans. The fact of the matter is that blacks in Chicago are still discriminated against at unprecedented levels!

Health Care

Discrimination and apartheid-like conditions characterize Chicago’s health-care system. Despite there being high levels of violence and shootings on the Southside, there is no trauma center to operate on victims, leaving youth to die in the streets. Yet, there are plenty of hospitals and trauma centers in affluent white areas despite the low levels of violence. [8] Blacks that are exposed to this violence develop post-traumatic stress disorder, similar to troops returning from combat. For many it isn’t “post-trauma” but a continuous cycle[9]. In spite of this, Rahm Emmanuel has plans to close down mental health facilities in Chicago’s low income areas.[10]  In the current hospitals located in Chicago, blacks face rampant discrimination. Several studies have indicated that black patients receive excessive wait times and have been subject to expensive deposit requirements prior to treatment. [11] According to a study from UCLA, researchers found that racial discrimination is the key factor in explaining why blacks suffer from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and strokes, more than any other population. [12]  However, this discrimination not only affects patients, but also workers. Jackson Park Hospital has recently been ordered to pay $80,000 after being exposed for racist practices against its black workers.[13]

Housing

Chicago is divided between affluent whites on the north-side and impoverished blacks on the South-side but even blacks with wealth find themselves unable to move out of the ghetto. Though it is illegal, housing discrimination continues to affect African-Americans in Chicago. All Civil-Rights legislation did was ban “No Colored” signs but racism in the housing market continues to disenfranchise blacks.  African-American borrowers were given higher-interest on subprime mortgages when compared to whites – even when they qualified for much better deals.[14] Even “blockbusting” referring to racist practices by real-estate agents, against blacks, was pioneered in Chicago![15] Today, Chicago stands as the most racially segregated city in America. [16]

Schools
Even after the Supreme Court’s Brown V.S Board of Education decision to desegregate schools, Chicago’s schools remain segregated. According, to the Progressive Labor Party “In 2000, 54% of black public school students in Chicago attended schools that did not have a single white student enrolled, 274 schools were 90% or more black, and 173 of those schools, 30% of all Chicago public schools, were 100% black.” [17]  Many whites attend schools with greater infrastructure and resources, located in suburban areas. Chicago Public Schools has nine elite selective enrollment schools that students must “test into” in order to get a quality education.  These culturally biased “selective-enrollment” tests give Chicago Public School the ability to keep schools segregated. Students unable to test into these schools are shipped into school-to-prison pipeline lacking libraries and adequate material needed to teach the classroom.   The Chicago Teachers union indicated that “Chicago Public Schools remains one of the urban school systems that[’s]“only a few percentage points from an experience of total apartheid.” [18]  These schools are fundamentally preparing black youth for a life of solitary confinement. Only 3 out of 100 Chicago Public School freshmen earn a Bachelor degree by the age of twenty-five. Education for black students is still not equal to that of whites.[19]

 Employment

Discrimination continues to be perpetuated against African-Americans in the job market.  Studies have found that applicants with more “Black-Sounding” names on resumes (i.e. Jamal, Lakeshia) were less likely to be called back for an interview than applicants with more “White-Sounding” names(I.E John, Emily) even when credentials were identical. [20] Even more troubling, a study found employers to be more likely to hire a white person with a criminal record than a black person without one, even when qualifications were exactly the same.[21]

Business/Loans
Foreigners, specifically Arab merchants, own the majority of stores in African-American communities within Chicago. These are pseudo-grocery stores that sell inflated unhealthy goods to the community and often collaborate with gangs in the illegal drug trade. The black community has a huge lack of black business ownership; so much so, when there is a store owned by blacks you often see the sign “black-owned business” in the window. The majority of the stores in the black community should be owned by blacks; the fact that we have signs saying “black-owned” business demonstrates the severity of our situation. The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of black entrepreneurs who seek to set-up business in the black community, but they face constant barriers through discriminatory loan practices by banks. Banks have consistently been found not to loan to blacks, or will charge themhigher interest rates (regardless of their credit!) than they dowhites and other minority entrepreneurs.[22]
Car loans
Auto-shop dealerships in Chicago consistently discriminate against African-Americans. A study in Chicago sent various races to car dealerships to purchase  a car. They discovered that  auto dealerships offered lower prices to white males than blacks, even in identical financial situations on interest rate loans. Black males on average were priced twice the amount of whites, and black females were ask to pay more than three times  the amount as white males.[23]These types of discriminatory practices are responsible for minorities depending upon public transportation such as the CTA(Chicago Transit Authority).  These buses are often extremely overcrowded, breeding hostilities between customers and causing unnecessary conflict from the congested environment.

The Origin of Gang Violence

Black street gangs do not come out of the sky. Their origins are undeniably rooted in state imposed substandard social conditions. Gangs result from the myriad ways in which this racist government has confined black youth in the most atrocious of social conditions. It is undeniably accredited to the denial of economic opportunities, denial of quality education, and racist violence inhumanely inflicted by covetous white vigilante groups. Discrimination against black youth runs rampant on the job market. And as  hip-hop Artist Nas once said “Anytime brothers can’t get jobs, they rob. A man would rather die than live on his knees and starve.”[24]Street gangs allow people to experience a bond that surrogates climbing up the socio-economic ladder, the same one that has systematically excluded blacks.

Unlike parasitic western capitalists that rob and kill the resources of entire countries out of pure greed, inner-city youth participate in these actions for pure survival. Gangs go to war with one another to protect their “turf”. As Freeway once said “Even though what we do is wrong… don’t you know a cops sole purpose is to lock us down and throw away the key. But without this drug shit your kids ain’t got no way to eat?”[26] The drugs that gangs sell act as a mechanism for historically impoverished and disenfranchised people to have a taste at what being wealthy feels like. Often times, the drug economy is sometimes the only way in which they can provide for their families. Indeed, between 1967 and 1982, nearly 50% of Chicago’s manufacturing jobs were eliminated.[27]   This devastated Chicago’s black community and gangs skyrocketed.  Of course, such an event is inevitable under capitalism which seeks to outsource to foreign countries for cheap labor to increase profits. John M. Hagedorn writes that “The conditions in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods came to resemble impoverished Third World countries, and police harassment was ever-present.”[28] Also worth noting is that the Chicago government has also responded to white street gangs and black street gangs differently. Contrary to popular belief, the first gangs in Chicago were not black but white, specifically Irish. Unlike Black Street gangs that formed out of economic necessity, these gangs formed amongst white youth to terrorize black communities who dared to defy racist segregation  laws.[29]

Chicago’s government decided to take a rehabilitation approach with these white Irish gangs and transform them into “respectable” members of society. Indeed, the entire Irish gang that brutalized and decimated black communities was transformed into the Chicago Police Department. Richard D. Daley, who was a dedicated member of one of these gangs, later became Mayor. There has never been a serious attempt by the Chicago government to rehabilitate black gang members into society. Instead, the government has only responded through police occupation of black communities. [30]

Also, the black community has taken numerous steps to deal with gang-violence and all of them were foiled by the government.   Fred Hampton, the leader of the  Black Panther Party For Self Defense, attempted to form an alliance with Chicago’s black street gangs to turn them into an activist organization.[31] Instead of allowing this alliance to manifest, the FBI would instead forge letters between the two groups to breed hostility. The Chicago Police Department would eventually assassinate the Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton.[32] This alliance had the potential to unify black street gangs and end the violence that they were perpetrating against one another but the government would not allow for it to materialize. Today, gang violence continues to take the lives of black youth.

 Shoutouts

1.Housing: “A Short History,” http://southside.uchicago.edu/History/Housing.html

2 “Chicago Race Riot of 1919”.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-04.http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/110488/Chicago-Race-Riot-of-1919

3.) Tuttle, William. Race Riot Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919 (Urbana, IL; University of Illinois Press, 1970)

4)   RACE NOT SPACE: A REVISIONIST HISTORY OFGANGS IN CHICAGO John M. Hagedorn* gangresearch.net/Archives/hagedorn/articles/racenotspace.pdf

5) Housing: “A Short History,” http://southside.uchicago.edu/History/Housing.html

6) Arnold Richard Hirsch, “Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960”, University of Chicago,1998,http://books.google.com/books?id=px0PuO7GWhsC&pg=PP1&ots=9I1rYsYyNh&dq=%22Making+the+Second+Ghetto%22+hirsch&sig=IPgKY-xgpCRZwpCsboI_rk0UPgc#PPA18,M1

7 ) Arnold Richard Hirsch, “Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960”, University of Chicago,1998,http://books.google.com/books?id=px0PuO7GWhsC&pg=PP1&ots=9I1rYsYyNh&dq=%22Making+the+Second+Ghetto%22+hirsch&sig=IPgKY-xgpCRZwpCsboI_rk0UPgc#PPA18,M1

8)   Asraa MustufaFriday, June 17 2011 http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/06/chicago_activists_push_for_trauma_center_on_the_south_side.html Chicago Activists Push for Trauma Center on the South Side

9) “I See Everything Through This Tragedy” February 12, 2012, 11:00 am ET by Alex Kotlowitz http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/social-issues/interrupters/i-see-everything-through-this-tragedy/

10) Karen Jordan Activists rally against mental health clinic closures

Tuesday, April 17, 2012  http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8624017

11)  Race, Health Care and the Law Speaking Truth to Power!

Institutional Racism in US Health Care http://academic.udayton.edu/health/07humanrights/racial01c.htm

12)  Discrimination Contributes To African-American Health Disparitiea  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/55345.php 01 Nov 2006 – 3:00 PST

13)  Chicago’s Jackson Park Hospital Settles Discrimination Charges

Written by Molly Gamble | November 22, 2011http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/chicagos-jackson-park-hospital-settles-discrimination-charges.html

14) Black Borrowers Face Higher Hurdles in Lending, Study ShowsBy Stefanos Chen  Feb 24th 2012 1:48PM

 http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/02/24/black-borrowers-face-higher-hurdles-in-lending-study-shows/

15)  A Requiem for Blockbusting: Law, Economics, and Race-Based Real Estate Speculation Dmitri Mehlhornhttp://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?articl The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve

02/16/2012

e=3528&context=flr

16  Chicago Most Segregated City In America, Despite Significant Improvements In Last Decade

01/31/2012 12:49 pm http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/chicago-most-segregated-c_n_1244098.html

17  http://www.plp.org/leaflets-pamphlets/pamphlets/Racism_pamphlet2.pdf PROGRESSIVE LABOR PARTY ON RACE AND RACISM

18) The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve

02/16/2012 HTTP://WWW.CTUNET.COM/BLOG/TEXT/SCSD_REPORT-02-16-2012-1.PDF

19) Consortium for School Research at the University of Chicago

20)  “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,” Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2003.

21) The Mark of a Criminal Record Devah Pager Northwestern Universityhttp://www.princeton.edu/~pager/pager_ajs.pdf

22) http://www.dartmouth.edu/~blnchflr/papers/finalrestat.pdf DISCRIMINATION IN THE SMALL  BUSINESS CREDIT MARKET

23)   Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining  for a New Car

By  IAN  AYRES  AND  PETER SIEGELMAN*http://islandia.law.yale.edu/ayers/Ayres%20Siegelman%20Race%20and%20Gender%20Discrimination%20In%20Bargaining%20%20for%20a%20New%20Car.pdf

24)) NAS LYRICS “Hold Down The Block” (feat. Mark B. Mayfield) http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/nas/holddowntheblock.html

26) Freeway, What We Do http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/freeway/whatwedo.html

27 )   RACE NOT SPACE: A REVISIONIST HISTORY OFGANGS IN CHICAGO John M. Hagedorn* gangresearch.net/Archives/hagedorn/articles/racenotspace.pdf

28) Rates of of poverty, violence, and other indicators of social exclusion resemble Third world cities like Rio de Janiero, Cape Town, and Lagos more than they resemble lower-class European urban aieasofpoverty. JohnM.Hagedorn, “Youth in Organized Armed Violence in Chicago” in Neither War Nor Peace: International

 29) RACE NOT SPACE: A REVISIONIST HISTORY OFGANGS IN CHICAGO John M. Hagedorn* gangresearch.net/Archives/hagedorn/articles/racenotspace.pdf

30) Ibid.

31) Ibid.

32) Ibid. Also see The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther by Jeffrey Haas.

ADL Fails To Disprove Claim Israel is an Apartheid Regime.

In a shameful display of grotesque incompetence, the Anti-Defamation League(ADL) published the article Response To Common Inaccuracy: Israel is an Apartheid State, seeking to challenge common comparisons made between Israel and Apartheid, South Africa.  The ADL claims that unlike Israel “[t]he apartheid regime imposed ‘bantustans,’ impoverished autonomous homelands whose borders were designed to exclusive economically viable land, upon 12 million black South Africans.”  The problem is the ADL has omitted the fact that the Israeli defense force actually worked to police black people in apartheid South Africa’s bantustans. 

In a 1984, the United Nations’ special Committee report titled Recent Developments concerning relations between  Israel and South Africa, notes “[d]espite the denials of the Government of Israel it continues to collaborate with the racist regime of South Africa as well as the bantustans, particularly in the military and nuclear fields.” In a strong condemnation, the General Assembly of the United Nations’ went as far as to declare that actions of  “Israel are the main obstacles that have frustrated international efforts for the elimination of apartheid.” 

Under the apartheid system, Black people could only travel to white areas for work if they had a pass.The apartheid government was built on the white supremacist belief that Blacks were not needed in white areas except as a unit of labor.  The police of apartheid government established checkpoints to ensure that Blacks were in white areas exclusively to perform labor. This system resulted in logistical difficulties in the form of excessively long lines

In search of a solution, apartheid South Africa’s former police chief, Constand Viljeon, visited Occupied Palestine in 1977. He unabashedly admired how Israel controlled the movements of the Palestinians, writing, “The thoroughness with which Israel conducts this examination is astonishing.” In admiration, Costand Vijeon sent white South African soldiers to Israeli militarily school with the goal  of replicating their system in South Africa. 

As the anti-apartheid struggle took place, Nelson Mandela’s uMkhonto we Sizwe began to engage in guerrilla warfare to fight the white racist government.  Through its continued battles with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Israeli military gained valuable military expertise in how to fight guerrilla movements.

In the Unnatural Alliance: Israel and South Africa, James Adam, a former board member of the National Security Agency and an expert of warfare strategy analyzed  apartheid, South Africa’s military tactics against the black guerrilla fighters. James Adam concluded that apartheid, South Africa’s “armed forces are equipped by Israel and their counterinsurgency tactics have evolved almost entirely as a result of lessons learned by the Israelis in their fight against the Palestine Liberation Organization.”    

Due to the violent repression of anti-apartheid activists, many black freedom fighters of the ANC had to flee the country. In Who Israel Arms and Why, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi  writes that “ANC leaders in exile began receiving parcel bombs and letter bombs in the mail; the terror campaign resulted from cooperation with the Mossad, which has used similar techniques against PLO leaders.” In other words, Israel’s intelligence agency aided the apartheid regime of South Africa in assassinating Black people who merely wanted to live dignified live free of white racism.

In light of history, the Anti-Defamation League should be classifying the Israeli military as an anti-black hate group. Yet, seeking to disprove the claim that Israel is an apartheid state, the ADL asserts:

 

Indeed, former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone wrote in a New York Times op-ed that accusing Israel of apartheid “is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations.

Amazing! The Anti-Defamation League cites one of the most ruthless apartheid era judges Richard Goldstone as a credible source. This is the same  Goldstone who once sentenced two black men to a prison sentence for merely possessing a video tape of a senior official in Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.  Indeed, during the height of apartheid, Goldstone sentenced over 28 Black people to the death penalty. In contrast, the Anti-Defamation League demonizes heroic anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu as anti-Semitic for his belief that “Israeli policies towards Palestinians are the same or worse than those imposed against black South Africans under apartheid.”  When the ADL is upholding the perpetrators of apartheid while demonizing its victims it is clear that something is not right.

The Black Holocaust: 3 Racist Courtroom Decisions Relevant Today

American laws have historically been used to reinforce white supremacy and further the subjugation of Black people. In this article, Hakeem Muhammad documents several  horrendous court decision that set forth the precedent of legalizing the oppression of Black people.

Celia Vs. State Of Missouri

State of Missouri v. Celia, a Slave was a murder trial that took place in 1855. Celia’s slave master, Robert Newsom  repeatedly raped  her. One day,  Newson came into the cabin where Celia lived and made sexual advances. Celia rejected his sexual advances but Newson persisted. In response, Celia took a stick and hit him. Newsom tried to grab her and she continued to hit him with the stick eventually killing him.  Afterwards, Celia was brought up on murder charges and the court determined that Celia could not plead self defense. The court held that white slave masters had a right to rape their Black slaves and slaves could not resist. Sadiya Hartman, in Scenes of Subjection  writes that the court indicated, The enslaved could neither give nor refuse consent, nor offer reasonable resistance, yet they were criminally responsible and liable.” With a guilty verdict for murder, Celia would be hanged for her “crime.”

 

North Carolina v. Mann

 

In the case of North Carolina vs Mann, John Mann brutally lashed his slave Lydia. While being lashed, Lydia attempted to escape, whereupon Mann shot and wounded her. John Mann was indicted for assault and battery, the court dismissed the charges and Judge Ruffin declared, “The power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect..” Judge Ruffin posits a “slippery slope’ argument stating that if white slave masters can be brought up on charges for shooting slaves, they could potentially be brought up on charges for any form of abuse, and that this would defeat the very essence of slavery.   In light of John Mann shooting a black woman, the court declared,”There is no remedy.”   

   Dred Scott Decision vs. Samford

In the case of  Dred Scott vs. Samford, Dred Scott freed for his from from slavery. His master, Scott Emerson, purchased him in a slave state of St. Louis, Missouri and subsequently moved to Illinois which had prohibited slavery in its territories. Dred Scott would sue for his freedom  and the question had hand was, did Dred Scott’s transfer to a free that entitle him to freedom. Supreme Court Justice, Roger B. Taney ruled that Blacks were,“regarded as beings of an inferior order” and had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”  The  court further ruled that Black people did not even have standing to bring a suit in court.

 

About: Hakeem Muhammad is a Black Freedom Fighter and every  racist White Settler Colonist’s worse nightmare.

The Crack Epidemic: How Will I Make It in Harlem? (Hood Series)

 

bigl43In the Post-Civil Rights Era, African-Americans are said to be progressing in society; institutional racism is written off as a sad social reality of the past, but now it is claimed that a window of opportunity is available for blacks. During Dr. Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month, Americans reminisce over how racist America used to be as King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech is routinely read and heard.  Society then reflects upon prominent African-American figures such as Barack Obama, and thinks to themselves how far America has come. In a song entitled “How Will I Make It?” Lamont Colemon gives narratives that profoundly challenge the sociological myth of black progress in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Coleman, who went by the name Big L, was not a politically conscious rapper like Tupac Shakur (who routinely drew links between capitalism and the plight of black Americans) or Nas (who constantly discusses fratricidal ghetto life and routinely draws links to the roots of institutional racism). As such, Coleman is free of all of the biases that may come from a formal study of Critical Race Theory and thus provides an organic insight on the status of black youth that disrupts the myth of steady progress.

Lamont Coleman in describing his upbringing states that, “I’m only at the age of 10 and life already seems to me like it’s heading for a dead end. Cause my Moms be smoking mad crack. My dad went out for a fast streetstruck34snack and never brought his a** back.” Coleman grew up fatherless and with a mother who was addicted to crack; the crack epidemic led to an uprising in violent crime as unemployed black youth who were discriminated against in the job market resorted to selling the cost-efficient cocaine derivative to move up the social economic ladder. This era produced an entire generation of neglected children subjected to pre-natal cocaine exposure (often referred to in the streets as “crack babies”), mass incarceration, and social decay in the black community. For Coleman in particular, at only ten years old, he states that, “Nobody knows how I feel, it’s quite ill Cause I had to steal to fill my stomach with a nice meal.” Reading this, one would think he grew up in a third world country, but in reality he was growing up in the heart of America. Heading into his teenage years, Coleman states, “Now I’m at the age of 15, no more fun and games it’s time to get cream… Now every day I creep with the heat, ain’t nothing sweet, I rob for meat. If I don’t steal, I don’t eat.” In such economically oppressive social conditions, Coleman had to resort to crime merely for food. As he lives a life of crime for mere survival, he laments that he may end up in jail but that he is forced into such activities through economic necessity. Nonetheless, he makes a very revealing statement:

“Where I grew up it was a living hell. Then I started to realize – I’m better off in a prison cell. Now I can sleep, now I can eat.” Being born into yk54poverty in the street of Harlem and realizing that being in prison actually makes it easier to eat regular meals is a serious indictment of the socio-economic system of America in the Post-Civil Rights Era. One in three black males can be expected to be under the tutelage of the criminal justice system either through prison time or parole throughout their lives. As prisons become increasingly privatized, rich white CEOS have begun profiting from the mass-incarceration of black youth who are funneled into a life of crime due to the economic conditions that they live in. Eventually, Coleman, after carrying out a robbery, was convicted; however, upon getting out, he quickly finds himself in the same social situation

“It’s getting crazy hectic

Cause I’m broke and can’t get a job cause of my jail record

Before you know it, I was robbing them same ducks”

From growing up in a poor black household, Coleman’s criminal pursuits to begin with had nothing to do with wanting to choose a life a crime, but rather it materialized from economic necessity to survive. Upon leaving jail, Coleman quickly finds himself in the same social situation. Prisons are less about reform, and even after leaving jail there have been no job training programs to steer him in the right direction. Coleman states, ”Either I’mma go to jail or get murdered, but do I deserve it? All I tried to do was live the one life that I got but it seems like I can’t get a fair shot.” Coleman was never given a fair shot due to one basic fact: he was born black in a white supremacist system and, like so many other black youth, either felt he was going to be killed xewk23at a young age or go back to jail.

When it comes to black-on-black crime, the conservative media often attributes it to bad behavior, a lack of morals, or the influence of Hip-Hop. They call for self-responsibility and simply saying blacks need to will themselves into doing the “right” thing. In his song ”Street Struck,” Coleman advocates self-responsibility for black youth in an interesting manner, stating, ”Some of my peeps are still in the game sellin ‘caine. If that’s what you gotta do to maintain, go ‘head and do your thang. But with the cash profit make an investment. And try not to go to the grave like the rest went.” Essentially, he recognized the inevitability of black youth turning to the drug market for survival, but encourages them to use profits from drugs and to turn it into a legitimate enterprise.

 

Tbig4544he real question is: when will whites began to take responsibility for the unjust social system their forefathers created that has resulted in the drug economy being the only way for black youth to have basic needs? When will whites take responsibility for having created the unjust prison industrial complex, partaking in redlining, and the discriminatory loans that targeted blacks and led to the subprime mortgage crisis and causing a crisis in the black community. The calls for “self-responsibility” among blacks by whites is a way in which they can absolve themselves from having to challenge the white supremacist power structure that they continue to benefit from; essentially, blacks must exercise supreme levels of discipline and responsibility, as they pull themselves out the hood by their boot-straps. Such a discourse also neglects that fact that due to institutional racism, whites who partake in self-destructive behaviors (alcohol, drugs, etc.) are less likely to be harmed by it than blacks due to their extensive social safety network developed from institutional racism.

In the midst of oppression and white scapegoating, Coleman – with no formal study of sociological issues, critical race theory, etc. makes a profound statement:
“In the ghetto, all you can wish for is a better tomorrow. It ain’t getting no better, it’s only getting worse, word up.”

Effectively refuting the myth of black progress in the Post-Civil Rights Era, for black youth, the conditions are only becoming worse.

 

 

 

 

 

The Crack Epidemic: How Will I Make It in Harlem?

 

bigl43In the Post-Civil Rights Era, African-Americans are said to be progressing in society; institutional racism is written off as a sad social reality of the past, but now it is claimed that a window of opportunity is available for blacks. During Dr. Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month, Americans reminisce over how racist America used to be as King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech is routinely read and heard.  Society then reflects upon prominent African-American figures such as Barack Obama, and thinks to themselves how far America has come. In a song entitled “How Will I Make It?” Lamont Colemon gives narratives that profoundly challenge the sociological myth of black progress in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Coleman, who went by the name Big L, was not a politically conscious rapper like Tupac Shakur (who routinely drew links between capitalism and the plight of black Americans) or Nas (who constantly discusses fratricidal ghetto life and routinely draws links to the roots of institutional racism). As such, Coleman is free of all of the biases that may come from a formal study of Critical Race Theory and thus provides an organic insight on the status of black youth that disrupts the myth of steady progress.

Lamont Coleman in describing his upbringing states that, “I’m only at the age of 10 and life already seems to me like it’s heading for a dead end. Cause my Moms be smoking mad crack. My dad went out for a fast streetstruck34snack and never brought his a** back.” Coleman grew up fatherless and with a mother who was addicted to crack; the crack epidemic led to an uprising in violent crime as unemployed black youth who were discriminated against in the job market resorted to selling the cost-efficient cocaine derivative to move up the social economic ladder. This era produced an entire generation of neglected children subjected to pre-natal cocaine exposure (often referred to in the streets as “crack babies”), mass incarceration, and social decay in the black community. For Coleman in particular, at only ten years old, he states that, “Nobody knows how I feel, it’s quite ill Cause I had to steal to fill my stomach with a nice meal.” Reading this, one would think he grew up in a third world country, but in reality he was growing up in the heart of America. Heading into his teenage years, Coleman states, “Now I’m at the age of 15, no more fun and games it’s time to get cream… Now every day I creep with the heat, ain’t nothing sweet, I rob for meat. If I don’t steal, I don’t eat.” In such economically oppressive social conditions, Coleman had to resort to crime merely for food. As he lives a life of crime for mere survival, he laments that he may end up in jail but that he is forced into such activities through economic necessity. Nonetheless, he makes a very revealing statement:

“Where I grew up it was a living hell. Then I started to realize – I’m better off in a prison cell. Now I can sleep, now I can eat.” Being born into yk54poverty in the street of Harlem and realizing that being in prison actually makes it easier to eat regular meals is a serious indictment of the socio-economic system of America in the Post-Civil Rights Era. One in three black males can be expected to be under the tutelage of the criminal justice system either through prison time or parole throughout their lives. As prisons become increasingly privatized, rich white CEOS have begun profiting from the mass-incarceration of black youth who are funneled into a life of crime due to the economic conditions that they live in. Eventually, Coleman, after carrying out a robbery, was convicted; however, upon getting out, he quickly finds himself in the same social situation

“It’s getting crazy hectic

Cause I’m broke and can’t get a job cause of my jail record

Before you know it, I was robbing them same ducks”

From growing up in a poor black household, Coleman’s criminal pursuits to begin with had nothing to do with wanting to choose a life a crime, but rather it materialized from economic necessity to survive. Upon leaving jail, Coleman quickly finds himself in the same social situation. Prisons are less about reform, and even after leaving jail there have been no job training programs to steer him in the right direction. Coleman states, ”Either I’mma go to jail or get murdered, but do I deserve it? All I tried to do was live the one life that I got but it seems like I can’t get a fair shot.” Coleman was never given a fair shot due to one basic fact: he was born black in a white supremacist system and, like so many other black youth, either felt he was going to be killed xewk23at a young age or go back to jail.

When it comes to black-on-black crime, the conservative media often attributes it to bad behavior, a lack of morals, or the influence of Hip-Hop. They call for self-responsibility and simply saying blacks need to will themselves into doing the “right” thing. In his song ”Street Struck,” Coleman advocates self-responsibility for black youth in an interesting manner, stating, ”Some of my peeps are still in the game sellin ‘caine. If that’s what you gotta do to maintain, go ‘head and do your thang. But with the cash profit make an investment. And try not to go to the grave like the rest went.” Essentially, he recognized the inevitability of black youth turning to the drug market for survival, but encourages them to use profits from drugs and to turn it into a legitimate enterprise.

 

Tbig4544he real question is: when will whites began to take responsibility for the unjust social system their forefathers created that has resulted in the drug economy being the only way for black youth to have basic needs? When will whites take responsibility for having created the unjust prison industrial complex, partaking in redlining, and the discriminatory loans that targeted blacks and led to the subprime mortgage crisis and causing a crisis in the black community. The calls for “self-responsibility” among blacks by whites is a way in which they can absolve themselves from having to challenge the white supremacist power structure that they continue to benefit from; essentially, blacks must exercise supreme levels of discipline and responsibility, as they pull themselves out the hood by their boot-straps. Such a discourse also neglects that fact that due to institutional racism, whites who partake in self-destructive behaviors (alcohol, drugs, etc.) are less likely to be harmed by it than blacks due to their extensive social safety network developed from institutional racism.

In the midst of oppression and white scapegoating, Coleman – with no formal study of sociological issues, critical race theory, etc. makes a profound statement:
“In the ghetto, all you can wish for is a better tomorrow. It ain’t getting no better, it’s only getting worse, word up.”

Effectively refuting the myth of black progress in the Post-Civil Rights Era, for black youth, the conditions are only becoming worse.

 

 

 

 

 

Black Heroes

As Black people continue to suffer psychologically, economically, and socially under the confines of an anti-black  society, there has always emerged strong black heroes who resist white supremacy and tirelessly work to inculcate within blacks a sense of pride and dignity, and to correct the Eurocentric distortions that masquerade as truth

The song, “Black Heroes” by Alia Sharrief featuring Aminah Bell, is a notable tribute to such courageous individuals who have been at the forefront in the battle against white supremacy, seeking to liberate the minds of Black men and women from the shackles of mental slavery, and spread useful knowledge about the true history of black people.

 Alia Sharrief,  from Sacramento California, raps upon a platform of modesty—something she refuses to compromise due to her strongly held Islamic  beliefs. “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his messenger” she joyfully exclaims on twitter. Alia Sharrieff epitomizes lyrical piety and her modesty does not at all take away from the strength of her vocal denunciation of white supremacy but only enhances it.

Like her black foremother Nana Asmau, who once stated in a  poem “knowledge enables you to follow God and the Prophet”, the lyrics of Alia Sharrief  stays true to a trans generational theme within  the black-Islamic  tradition which emphasizes the importance of knowledge.With a black power fist held high in the air, Alia Sharrief proclaims, “We come here with knowledge which is power.”

Mansa Musa of West Africa.

The imagery in the Black Heroes video is laced with Afrocentric Islamic themes conveying a spiritual message of Black love, an authentic depiction of black history removed from Eurocentric delusions, and an adamant rejection of white supremacy and its value system.  Through this powerful video,  iconic images of black figures display throughout different epoch’s world history, from Sister Souljah to Mansa Musa, from Malcolm X to H. Rap Brown, from Muhammad Ali to Assata Shakur.

blackqueen

Aiyana Jones assassinated by white police officers.

Furthermore, Alia Sharrief unabashedly indicts white racism and its destruction of black lives. “Every 28 hours a Black man is assassinated” she informs her listeners.  Some of these victims of  assassination include Emmit Till, Travyon Martin, Amdala Dailou, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Micheal Brown,Aiyana Jones,  Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice.  This  powerful line from Alia Sharrief confirms that in the eyes of white America, black life has no value or worth, and that the killings of blacks are not accidental, but intentional, political in nature, designed to maintain the white supremacist status quo.

In addition to the physical impacts of white supremacy, their are also psychological ways in which  the system seeks to instill within the psyches of blacks that they are inferior, animalistic, and barbaric. The naps in the hair of black people to their well-defined lips, and their black skin, it is these attributes that have come to serve as a scarlet letter to white society denoting ugliness and filth.

White supremacy has caused many blacks to internalize anti-blackness leading to self-hatred. This is painfudolltestlly shown in a study in which a young black girl is asked whether she prefers a white doll or a black doll. The black child prefers the white doll, lauding it as “pretty”, and the black doll, she debases as “ugly”,  yet, when asked what doll most looks like herself, she painfully points to the  black doll.

To combat this self-hatred, Alia Sharrief embraces her blackness  calling upon prophetic traditions to do so, “I’m black like the first man who called the Adhan.” Alia Sharrief  proudly calls upon the black companion of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, Bilal Ibn Rabah, who called believers to prayer.  She draws upon this black history to spiritually fortify her self against  self-hatred.  For when it comes to oppression,   Alia Sharrief says,”black heroes won’’t stand for it.”

Alia Sharrief  sends a powerful message through her poetry. We should all strive to be black heroes of our own by enjoining the good of black love  and forbidding the evil  of white oppression,  being firm in fighting anti-blackness even if it be perpetrated by black themselves who have internalized this self-hatred (we see you Charles Barkley ), and vigilantly challenging racism and classism by  calling for justice  regardless of whether an individual is white and rich or black and poor.   Though Willie Lynch sought to rewrite history and instill within blacks hatred of themselves, black heroes must not swerve nor falter  in their battle against  white supremacy, for Allah is well acquainted with what we do.

Jay Electronica: Back to the Roots!

The roots of hip-hop trace back to impoverished African-American communities in New-York; economic deprivation, social ostracism, as well as jay344
police brutality directly influenced the hip-hop scene.  The golden age of Hip-Hop was replete with Islamic themes and imagery, perhaps, best highlight ed in the profound lyricism of Rakim, the militant spits of public enemy, and the Afrocentric themes of Brand Nubian. As Hip-Hop began to transition to more Mafia-oriented ‘gangsta-rap’ consisting of materialistic melodies, the socially conscious nature of hip-hop with provocative political commentary would began to fade.   However, we may be entering a new era of conscious rap signified by black consciousness and Islam, and revival initiated by an incredibly talented Jay Electronica!

 

electornicaJay Electronica describes himself as growing up in a crime ridden, drug infested, New Orleans Community that consisted of “fighting, shootin’ dice, smoking weed on the corners trying to find the meaning of life in a Corona.” Finding this alcohol-oriented life empty, along his journey of life, he turned to Islam. Now at the top of the Rap game with his sharp unrivaled lyricism, Electronica can only relented “Alhamdulillah, it’s strictly by faith that we made it this far,” using the Arabic phrase to express his praise to God for having overcome so much adversities.

 

Islam in Black America has always led to social discipline, righteousness, and improving ones life.  The leader of the Nation of Islam, The fruitofislam43Honorable Elijah Muhammad instructed black men concerning their wives,” “Stop them from using unclean language in public (and at home), from smoking and drug addiction habits.” Malcolm X, a once  drug-dealer to clean Muslim, proclaimed,”Gambling! You don’t find it around Muslims. Profanity!  You don’t find it around Muslims.”  It is due to this, that many criticized Electronica  for misrepresenting the Fruit of Islam by his performance which included frequent swear words.  This led to  the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, issuing a letter  in which he ask,” Has any of us who have accepted Islam and its required high degree of moral excellence and civilization ever said or done anything that is less than representative of what we believe?”  He calls for mercy and compassion over the ordeal  and for brothers to reconcile with each other to recognize that all humans have shortcomings.

 

naselecontricaIt was one profound  influence of Electronica’s,  Nas, who on the controversially titled,”Nigger Album” proclaimed,”They did not have the power to stop Louis Farrakhan.”  Rather than using the profanity by Electronica as a point of attack, one should heed Louis Farrakhan’s emphasis on compassion, indeed Electronica’s performance  and other Islamically theme raps, conveys much about the state of Black America. On Nas’ most recent album, “Life Is Good,” the socially conscious rapper Nas spits:“New-York Is Like and Island, The cops be out wilding, all I hear is sirens. It’s all about surviving. Try to stay alive when they be out robbing. I been out rhyming since born knowledge. Like prophet Muhammad said the ink from a scholar. Worth more than the blood of a martyr. So I’mma, keep it on ’til I see a billion dollars.”

 

nasprojecctwidowsIn the ghettoes of America, the situation is chaotic and characterized by a lack of stability. The mentality that it breeds is one of pure survival. Dead Prez once stated, “Cops shot you just because you black, that’s war.” In the government sanctioned police war on black youth, many Afro-Americans from Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, to Eric Garner die as martyrs in the continuous police occupation of black ghetto neighborhoods. As a hip-hop artist then, Nas is significantly influenced by Prophetic Traditions emphasizing the importance of knowledge and scholarship.  For the hood, the hip-hop artists  are the organic intellectual who must convey the social plight of Black America.   As for Nas, since the Prophet Muhammad(Peace Be Upon Him) taught that the ink of a scholar is worth more than the blood of a matyr, he would rather write socially conscious lyrics than die as a martyr in the continuous war against black youth.

 

naskingtutOn the Stillmatic Mixtape, Nas’ song, “H-To the HOMO,” a diss at his then rival Jay-Z who released the song ”H to the IZZO,” Nas tells a story in which he must prepare himself for war: “Loaded up shells, one by one, you smelled blunts from my room door.”  Nas is furious and prepared unleash his rage through the barrel of the gun: “Little Nasir was at war, Crew deep with a few heat, now it’s time we settle the score.” His lifestyle is marked by vengeance and violence, but just as Nas is about to carry a hit, an astonishing event occurs: “But in the projects, I envision Muhammad, in linen garments. Preaching Man, Woman, and Child, the living Prophet.” Nas has a vision of the Prophet Muhammad(Peace Be Upon him) who calls him to a higher level of existence beyond drugs, black on black crime, and senseless violence.

 

 

elcotnrica2222In contrast, Jay-Z, a once rival to Nas, stated, “Never read the Qur’an or Islamic scriptures. Only Psalms I read was on the arms of my niggas.” Growing up in the hood, Shawn Carter in the midst of drug dealing, gang violence, and other social mayhem that accompanies inner city life, was never able to read the divine scriptures. This is in contrast to Nas who is not only named after a verse in the Qur’an, but also frequently invokes Qur’anic themes in his socially conscious songs. Yet Jay-Z takes a stab at Nas, stating, “Cause the nigga wear a kufi, it don’t mean that he bright.” Kufis are worn by West African scholars of Islam; Nas often wears this attire when performing some of his socially conscious music; Jay-Z does not want fans to be fooled by his attire and seeks to cast Nas as inauthentic, raising the rhetorical question?

Is it “Oochie Wally Wally” or is it “One Mic” Is it “Black Girl Lost” or shorty owe you for ice?

nasgaveyoupowerJay-Z points out the multiple contradictions of Nas’ career highlighted in his music. In “Black Girl Lost,” Nas seeks to uplift black women who are involved in the street life, but in ‘Shorty Owe You” he objectifies black women. The selective quoting of Nas’ lyrics enabled Bill O’Reilly and Fox News to label Nas as an ignorant “gangsta rapper” responsible for violence in the black community, despite the fact that many of his tracks are uplifting. This theme of contradictions can also be found on the theological views promoted in his music. On the Illmatic album, Nas states: “God I don’t believe in none of that shit, your facts are backwards. Nas is a rebel of the street corner, Pulling a Tec out the dresser, police got me under pressure,” clearly expressing anti-religious views while running the streets. Yet, on another track, Nas tells a story of a song in which he is engaged in the midst of a shootout and states, “Started praying to Allah, Muhammad, the most beneficial through you all things as possible, I know your listening,” clearly calling upon God, and invoking the Prophet Muhammad(Peace be Upon Him)  during this troublesome moment of his life.

In “Black Zombies,” Nas states, “Bismillah al rahman al Rahim” and “ Islam’s a beautiful thing … helps us to bring peace against the darkness, whichfe871-nas2b22b32bhero5b15d is ungodly.” The beginning of this bar is the opening line of the first Surah in the Qur’an. Nas also begins his Stillmatic “Smokin’” song with the opening of the Qur’an but then proceeds to discuss smoking blunts and getting high with his friends.  How does one make sense of the blatant contradictions of Nas’ music? Sometimes commercial, other times politically conscious, sometimes anti-religious and other times Islamic themes? Political conscious rapper Immortal Technique sheds answers in his song which expresses solidarity with the third world,”I’m from where they lost the true meaning of the Qur’an cause heroin is not compatible with Islam. And niggas know that, but grow that poppy seed anyway cause that food drop parachute does not come every day.”  Immortal Technique notes that in many Muslim countries, poor inhabitants often sell narcotics despite the blatant contradiction with Islam.

immortaltechniqueIn “Black Zombies,” Nas states, “Bismillah al rahman al Rahim” and “ Islam’s a beautiful thing … helps us to bring peace against the darkness, which is ungodly.” The beginning of this bar is the opening line of the first Surah in the Qur’an. Nas also begins his Stillmatic “Smokin’” song with the opening of the Qur’an but then proceeds to discuss smoking blunts and getting high with his friends.  How does one make sense of the blatant contradictions of Nas’ music? Sometimes commercial, other times politically conscious, sometimes anti-religious and other times Islamic themes? Political conscious rapper Immortal Technique sheds answers in his song which expresses solidarity with the third world,”I’m from where they lost the true meaning of the Qur’an cause heroin is not compatible with Islam. And niggas know that, but grow that poppy seed anyway cause that food drop parachute does not come every day.”  Immortal Technique highlights that in many Muslim countries, poor inhabitants often sell narcotics despite the blatant contradiction with Islam.This is because their countries are so impoverished that narcotic selling is done from desperation.

Similarly for Nas and Electronica, they highlight a reality in the inner-city of black America, that the damage is even worse. Black people werejayz5percent separated from the Qur’anic revelation for so many years that Jay-Z in the streets has been unable to read it; despite Islam’s re-emergence demonstrated in the hip-hop scene, the prescribed way of life has not developed and often people struggle to live up to the Islamic way of life.  In his,”My World(Nas Salute),   track with Electronica, Jay-Z states,”Now I’m banging on Rumsfeld and bells ringing Him and Dick’ll be in hell singing.  Woe to the hypocrites and infidels screaming niggas can’t handle.”

Jay-Z, calls out Dick Cheney and Ronald Rumsfeld for their neglected of the black community borrowing a rhetorical device from the Qu’ran which in the English translation says,”Woe to every fault-finding, back biter..who sees himself above others because he has amassed wealth and counts it fruitthein greedy love for it.” This is a clear jab at U.S Politicians, who have longed neglected the black community and pursued imperialistic wars for wealth. Then,  the Brooklyn rapper demonstrates that since his The Dynasty: Roc La Familia days, he has now read the Qu’ran,”  “I can make a true believer outta curious dyke. She’ll be wearing hijab singing ahmaduillah”, bragging about his profound Dawah  skills.  Thus, despite struggles highlighted by the contradictory nature of Nas; criticism of Electronica for using profanity in a FOI uniform;, nonetheless,  the frequent Islamic themes in their songs, as well as even Jay-Z’s devotion to dawah  indicates that we may be entering a new era of hip-hop, in which, Hip-Hop revives   its Islamic roots.

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“Indeed the human being is lost, except those who have faith, do righteous deeds, and join together in the mutual teaching of truth, patience, and constancy. “ (Al-Asr)

Did Civil Rights Acts improve the living conditions of Blacks?

The civil rights movement is often romanticized as having been victorious; the mainstream public discourse purports that racism, as a factor oneimpeding black social mobility, is increasingly on the decline. It is claimed that America is coming closer to achieving Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream with each passing day. Such a dangerous myth obfuscates the true plight of African-Americans; the reality is that civil rights legislation proved ineffective in improving the plight of black Americans, and discrimination against African-Americans is ubiquitous throughout all of American society, even in the era of a black President.

 

two    America is still a segregated society; the masses of blacks are confined to ghettoes, where they are completely ostracized from mainstream American society. Civil rights legislation failed to even put a dent in segregation. When the legislation was passed, white citizens created various neighborhood improvement associations throughout America. Racism was masked under the agenda of protecting property value and maintaining safety in the neighborhood. Neighborhood Improvement Associations actively lobbied the city council to carry out zone restrictions, endeavoring to preserve white racial homogeneity. Strategic boycotts were organized against real estate agents who had the audacity to sell their homes to blacks. Thus, institutional racism would remain an integral part of city planning, all seeking to keep blacks living in a perpetual state of segregation.[i]

 

African-Americans who made it to the middle class would often seek to escape the narrow confines of ghetto life. Real estate agents would takewhitetenants advantage of these black customers by selling a home in a predominantly white area, yet, subsequently, these white real-estate agents would alert whites in the area that blacks would be moving in; with fear and panic, they would often sell their homes. Poor African-Americans were then targeted, and these same real estate agents would then sell them homes that they could not afford. A cash advance and several months of mortgage would be collected, and after inevitably defaulting, they would be evicted; afterwards, another black family would be subjected to the same process.

 

segregationThese discriminatory practices, known as blockbusting, ensured that segregation would be maintained despite the passing of civil rights legislation.Douglas S. Massey concluded, “Since the passing of the Fair Housing Act, the level of black-white segregation has hardly changed.” Within these segregated neighborhoods, the educational systems reflect these apartheid-influenced conditions.[ii] A Harvard study on civil rights recently concluded that – even in the 21st century, after the Brown Vs. Board of Education decision – the majority black students were found to not only have attended schools that were in a de facto state of segregation, but they were also found to attend schools that were more likely to be at the bottom of the socio-economic latter with less resources available for students.[iii]

 

The discrimination in educational opportunities significantly harms equitable access to the job market—a job market in which black candidatesdiscrimination2 are already at a disadvantage for merely having dark skin. The study titled, ‘Are Emily and Brendan More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?’ concluded that job applicants with more ‘black-sounding’ names were less likely to be called back for an interview than applicants with more ‘white-sounding names,’ even with identical credentials.[iv] A more troubling study from found that white convicts and blacks without a criminal record, with otherwise identical credentials, have an equal opportunity for employment.[v] Such a social reality demonstrates a dire situation for black ex-convicts seeking to improve their lives.

 

policetortureSuch black convicts would have already been victims of an unjust legal system. Racism pervades the judicial system; blacks are more likely than whites to be stopped by the police and to become victims of police brutality. In court, blacks routinely have poorer representation compared to white defendants; blacks are more likely to receive harsher sentences for the same crimes as whites. Instead of standing firmly for justice, whether an individual is rich or poor, black or white, the report, ‘Racial Disparities in the United States Criminal Justice System’ [vi] concluded that, “The source of such disparities is deeper and more systemic than explicit racial discrimination. The United States in effect operates two distinct criminal justice systems: one for wealthy people and another for poor people and minorities.” As a result of these discriminatory practices, America incarcerates its populations at rates that surpass all other nations, and the majority of these prisoners are black, Latino, or a member of other minority communities.

 

 

Yet, the discrimination against black people in the judicial structure is part of a broader problem that seeks to feed the prison industrial complex. The apartheid prison system is becoming an increasingly important factor in the U.S. economy, with the government issuing out private contracts to construct prisons. The federal prison industry (UNICOR), which is owned by the U.S. government, even utiliprisionlaborzes the labor of prisoners to produce miscellaneous goods, including solar panels. Furthermore, many mainstream corporations, such as Microsoft, Boeing, IBM, and Texas Instruments, take advantage of this prison labor. Merrill Lynch has made heavy profits from investing in prison construction bonds. Eve Goldberg notes:

“Prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No health benefits, unemployment insurance, or workers’ compensation to pay. No language barriers, as in foreign countries. New leviathan prisons are being built on thousands of eerie acres of factories inside the walls. Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for TWA, raise hogs, shovel manure, make circuit boards, limousines.”[vii]

Thus, discrimination continues to be ubiquitous throughout American society, from housing, employment, and education. Civil rights chiefkeeffgbelegislation merely removed the overt signs of racism, such as “No blacks allowed” signs, but it did not mitigate the everyday practices of racism which manifests in the blockbusting, redlining, tactics of real estate agents in housing, the discriminatory predatory loans practices of banks, or court rooms which continue to bequeath harsher sentences to black offenders. At large, the black population in America is segregated in ghettos in which the only viable source of employment is the drug economy; they are systematically deprived of quality education; host lethal gang violence; their neighborhoods are often food deserts; and inside these ghettoes many die from preventable diseases.

 

Racial discrimination is as pervasive as it was during the ‘60s, the only change being how this racism manifested itself. After years of solidifying anti-black discrimination in every facet of American society, discrimination was able to continue without an overt legal mechanism to support it. Taking all this into account, it is clear that civil rights legislation protected white supremacy by putting an end to the overt manifestation as a recuperative mechanism to give the illusion of equality.

In the next article, we will take a look at how Civil Rights Legislation was passed with the intent to protect white supremacy.

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[i] American Apartheid, Segregation and the making of the Underclass by Douglass S. Massey A. Denton

 

[ii] IBID

[iii] http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/features/1999/orfielddeseg06081999.html,

[iv] Are Emily and Brendan More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? http://www.chicagobooth.edu/pdf/bertrand.pdf,

 

[v] “Discrimination in Low Wage Labor Markets.” http://paa2005.princeton.edu/papers/50874

 

[vi] Racial Disparities in the United States Criminal Justice System, http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/rd_ICCPR%20Race%20and%20Justice%20Shadow%20Report.pdf

[vii] Racism matters http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Prison_System/Masked_Racism_ADavis.html