Advertisements

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

Chiraq’s Child Soldiers & The Story of Yummy.

 

Think back to when you were nine years old. At this age, most kids in America are able yummyrobertsaniderto live care free, jovial lives contemplating about what cool new gadget they want from Santa for Christmas. For African-Americans in urban areas throughout America, their experience is totally different. When Robert ‘Yummy’ Sandifer was only nine years old, he had already been in and out of jail multiple times, deeply involved in the South Chicago street life, committing a series of armed robberies and arsons.

While most kids during this time period were trading Pokemon cards, Yummy was trading drugs for profit, committing burglaries and breaking into houses.

Yummy, hadn’t even reached his teenage years before he began carrying out murders for his local gangs. Worse yet, he didn’t even live to reach his teenage years.

At 4’6, he was armed with loaded guns and not even remotely afraid to use them. He received the nickname ‘Yummy’ due to his love for junk food.  He lived his life as a drug dealer causing terror in his community by breaking into houses and stealing cars. Before reaching 5-feet tall, he was already putting people 6 feet in the ground. He committed recorded 23 felonies and 5 misdemeanors while carrying out his missions for his local gang.  The only picture available of him available of him on the net is a Mugshot—a photo that showcases pain, anguish, and depression. This same face and mentality can also be seen in Chief Keef rap videos.

This should come as no surprise. Both Chief Keef and Yummy are from the same Southside neighborhood in Chicago, and both are members of the Black Disciples. Yummy was killed in 1994, about a year before Chief Keef was born in mid-1995.The same narrative of drug leading, shooting, and criminal activities that are found in many of Chief Keef’s videos and other Hip-Hop lyrics are the only imagery that Yummy knew his entire life.

From uppitynegronetwork.files.wordpress.com

After Yummy shot and killed a fourteen year old, child police went on a manhunt searching relentlessly for him. It was soon discovered that members of his own Black Disciple Gang executed him fearing that he would become a snitch to the police and reveal secrets about their drug trade.

This is what the conditions of poverty fostered by racial segregation produce.

Rapper Tupac Shakur was deeply touched by Yummy Sandifer’s story.  In his ‘White Man’s World” song Tupac gave his condolences by Yummy:

“Rest in Peace to Latasha, Little Yummy, and Kato. Too Much for this cold world to take, ended up being fatal.”   

The song then ends with a excerpt of a speech by the Hon. Minister  Louis Farrakhan stating that “the seal and the constitution reflect the thinking of the founding fathers that this was to be a nation by white people and for white people. Native Americans, Blacks, and all other nonwhite people were to be the burden barriers for the real citizens of this nation.”

The truth is Yummy Sandifer never had a chance to succeed in this white man’s world, even in the post-Civil-Rights Era. Yummy was born to a 15 year old crack addicted prostitute and an incarcerated father.

That crackhead, or drug junkie, you see on the streets started off life no different from me or you.   That person also had dreams, aspirations, goals, hopes, and loved ones at one point in their life.    People in urban areas often turn to Marjuana, Cocaine, Crack and alcohol in an attempt to help them cope with or temporarily relieve themselves of the stresses and pains that they face every-day under this capitalistic society.  This is a reason why ‘loud a type of Marjuanna’ is such a huge subject of Chief Keef rap videos.

Yummy was abused from an early age, having over 40 scars and parts of his skin burnt from cigarettes.  He was eventually placed under the care of the state; once he escaped from his governmental mandated foster home he quickly took to the streets.

Hardaway, who was convicted for Yummy’s murder at fourteen years old, had this to say from prison:

“Yummy was the average black kid growing up in a drug infected community. It’s millions of Yummy’s it’s just that Robert Sandifer gained national attention. He was an impressionable kid who looked up to everyone that was in the streets. I knew him but he was a kid to me. I was a kid myself but I was older and involved in a lot more stuff.”

Indeed, there are millions of black children in urban areas throughout America, especially in the Southside of Chicago, who hang out on street corners, looking up to nobody but gang members and the illegal drug economy as the only mechanism to attain things that most whites have handed to them at birth— things like food, clothing, and shelter.  Like Yummy, Hardaway is also a victim; a victim of a racist, capitalist society that created the conditions where an illegal economy was the only way to provide for loved ones and have the basic necessities of life.

Black people 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.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and The Myth of Black Separatist “Hate Groups.”

SPLC / Tolerance.org.

What is a Hate Group?  Once upon a time it was easy to determine hate groups in America.  They wore white sheets and called themselves the Ku Klux Klan. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated itself as THE group to brand an organization as a Hate Group.  It promotes itself as a non profit that monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the U.S. and exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media and the public.” They are a civil rights organization surprisingly established by a white attorney, Morris Dees, who once defended a Klansman in court.

Dees earned an acquittal for KKK  member Claude Henley, in spite of the prosecutor having pictures of him committing the crimes.  Henley, in 1961 faced federal charges for organizing mob attacks on freedom riders who sought to integrate public buses. In his autobiography,  A Lawyer’s Journey: The Morris Dees Story,  SPLC founder Morris Dees  describes feeling a guilty conscious over his defense of the Klan and after having a sudden “epiphany”, decided he would work to fight hate-groups and established the SPLC.

Since its founding in 1971, the SPLC has received numerous accolades for its efforts in challenging hate groups.  Dees has even received the  Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award from the National Education Association and The Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice.

Mr. Dees was highly qualified in 1961 to  know what hate looked like from his experience representing the Ku Klux Klan.  However in 2018, today’s SPLC is highly unqualified to know what hate looks like when they classify Black nationalist organizations as hate groups.  Further, on their site, a closer look shows that the SPLC data on “hate groups” actually portrays Black Americans as larger proponents of hate than White Americans.

The SPLC database on “hate groups”  reveals a peculiar find. The SPLC asserts that there are 233 active Black nationalist hate groups in the United States compared to 72 active Ku Klux Klan groups.

How did the script get flipped?  How did the victims of the racism in America now become the most purveyors of hate? The words of Malcolm X ring true here, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” 

The inflated number of Black “hate groups” is driven by the fact that each individual mosque of the Nation of Islam (NOI) is classified  by the SPLC as individual chapters of a hate group. The entire methodology the SPLC uses to classify “hate groups” is a false logic.  Just because The Nation of Islam teaches that Black people can do better for themselves in a land of their own, free from police brutality, high unemployment, the wage gap, the education gap, poor health, high crime, high rates of everything bad in life and low rates of everything good in life, does not mean he is teaching hate.  On the contrary, the Nation of Islam teaches love for black people. It’s a Black thing that many don’t understand.

When it comes to Black separatist “hate groups”, it must be remembered that Black folks did not arrive to this country on integrated slave ships. Black people were brought to the Americas against their will on slave ships.  Since then, the U.S government has systematically separated black people on slave plantations, prisons, and ghettos. The SPLC does not classify the U.S government as a hate group for seperating Black people in impoverished ghettos  but considers black organization who seek a freedom for Black people outside of the social-political, and economic structure of America as “hate groups.”

Effectively, the SPLC classifies any Black group who advances political positions outside of integrationism  as “hate groups.” Yet, under American ““integration” black people continue to suffer and at current trends will continue to lag behind whites in household wealth two whole centuries into the future! Seeing as though Black people were brought to this country against their will and never consented to be governed by America, the SPLC should perhaps be classified as a hate group itself because it defends a political arrangement that denies Black people their self determination.

What the SPLC needs to understand is that hate manifested as racism is the ability of white Americans to militarily, economically, politically, judicially, and legislatively control, dominate, and subjugate another ethnic group, the impetus being born out of resentment and derision of that ethnic group.  

In America, what NOI member ever prevented a white person from voting, acquiring an education, setting up business and killing them if they succeeded? Do Black NOI members control the majority of America’s wealth and have they carried out bombings of white towns because it was economically successful? Unlike the Klan, the NOI has no history of doing any of this nor do any of the   SPLC designated Black “hate groups” have the institutional power to discriminate, oppress, block the social mobility of any white person. Moreover, unlike the Klu Klux Klan, the NOI has no history of lynching, enslaving, discriminating against, any white person. It has never happened, and never will.

The SPLC points to the fact that the NOI has a “theology of innate Black superiority over whites” to support its claim of the NOI being a hate group.  Based upon this faulty logic, Black congressional members, from Maxine Waters to Keith Ellison have been demonized for merely attending NOI events. Following that logic, faulty as it is, if a theology that teaches love for self  to a people who were systematically taught to hate themselves for centuries can then be designated as a hate group then  surely the Mormon Church, whose religious text “the Book of Mormon”, claims Black people’s skin is a curse from God and that Blacks were meant to be subordinate to whites– should also be classified as a hate group. But they are not.  Why?

Where was the scrutiny against Mitt Romney during his presidential bid in 2012 for only belonging to a church whose “holy”  book teaches that Blacks were cursed and whose self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Smith justified the enslavement of Black people?  Sounds like hate to me. Moreover, throughout white churches in America both Protestant and Catholics, is an image of a white Jesus reinforcing the idea that God was white. Several theologians have indicated this white image of Jesus has instilled within Black people an inferiority complex.– when will all churches with a white Jesus be listed as  hate groups?

Another problematic element of the SPLC’s alleged fight against “hate” is the fact that they share their data on hate groups with law enforcement including local police as well as the FBI.  From the perspective of Black people, the FBI and local law enforcement have functioned as anti-Black hate groups. For example, after assassinating Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton, FBI, Special Agent Gregg York had this to say: “We expected about twenty Panthers to be in the apartment when the police raided the place. Only two of those Black niggers were killed, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark .”

Moreover, the FBI under J Edgar Hoover, implemented a variety of anti-Black policies including  the infamous cointelpro program that sought to disrupt and destroy Black organizations. How absurd is it for the SPLC to think its progressive for sharing its data on hate groups to the FBI, when the FBI has been complicit in anti-Black hatred.

While the SPLC may no longer be defending the Klan like its founder Attorney Morris Dees it still has a long way to go to really know what hate is all about.   

The Making of Chopper City: Black Life In New-Orleans (Hood Series)

In the public eye, New Orleans is a wonderful place to retreat for Mardi Gras parades; the eager tourists anticipate collecting beads and “Who Dat” souvenirs. Or they come to the Crescent City in anticipation of the annual Jazz-fest, topping their evening off by treating themselves to beignets in the French Quarters. At the heart of Bourbon Street, there are many clubs and bars providing much entertainment to sightseers. This is the New Orleans that attracts tourists far and wide! Yet, beyond these affluent attractions there exists another world that tourists do not dare journey into, and it is colloquially referred to as Chopper City.

The etymological origins of Chopper City are due to one fundamental reality: an AK-47 is needed for survival in these war zones. In Chopper City, there are excruciatingly high levels of poverty, the drug economy is dominant, and black on black violence is omnipresence. City planners do not devote nearly as much time to the well-being of Chopper City  as they do tourist attractions; while driving through streets riddled with potholes, choppers can be heard blasting. The Magnolia rapper Souljah Slim describing the consequences of this dire social neglect in Chopper City proclaims, “M’mma pray for her baby ‘cause I stayed in war.” Black youth are indeed at war, not only with one another, but with outside forces as well.

The declaration of Magnolia artist Lil Wayne which is ”a young nigga screaming f*ck the world,” is often perceived as anti-social; such messages are often why Hip-Hop artists are lambasted throughout the conservative media. Rappers are condemned for conveying negative social messages and embodying every flawed element of urban city culture: ignorant, rowdy, and violent. Yet, this s assertion of Lil Wayne is much deeper that one may suppose, as it demonstrates a fundamental fact about black existence in America: Lil Wayne has no choice but to put his middle finger up to the world; the world that he lives in is anti-black.

Following the Civil War, the black forefathers of the New Orleans artist endured a variety of repressive black code laws which intended to neworleansfreedomandindsolidify a white over black hierarchy. Within this post-plantation slavery period, the police of New Orleans were active Klansman who would terrorize the black community through lynching and even sexual assaults of black women.   Despite the fact that there was no source of employment for blacks, vagrancy laws were passed to prosecute unemployed blacks. These laws built the newly formed convict leasing system by ensuring that blacks would be used as slaves even after the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This oppression ensured that whites would continue to benefit from the enslavement of blacks, and continue to amass vast wealth from black suffering.

In 1937, a racial caste system would be enforced by the New Orleans Housing Authority who explicitly established segregated housing for neworlean4blacks, intentionally putting them in areas most susceptible to flooding. Blacks were continuously segregated and their lives were treated as though they were worthless; in the sixties, chemical plants were constructed near black neighborhoods. This would work to ensure that toxic pollution contaminated the air that blacks had no choice but to breathe in. Through lyrics, Lil Wayne states, “Stuck in the hood like they put cement on us,” which is a reality: the planning of New Orleans was structured firmly upon a racist ideology that intended to segregate blacks into impoverished social neighborhoods.

“The presidential double R, call that Ronald Reagan.” Though Lil Wayne is able to enjoy cruising in a Rolls Royce due to the hip hop industry, Reagonomics trickled down and devastated the black community at large. Social services were drastically cut, and the tax code was constructed to favor the wealthy. In the eighties, due to Reagan, the dreaded figure of the “black criminal” emerged within political advertisements. White politicians would chastise black youth as criminals, drug dealers, and rapists and call for ‘law and order’ in order to protect the good, white citizenry. Within New Orleans, whites began settling in Slidell and other suburbs, the local black population would still be in segregated public housing. The wealth never actually did trickle down; instead, as jobs moved out of the inner-city, New Orleans began cutting back on social services. There would be little opportunity for social mobility for black Americans. Describing these hectic times, C- Murder describes his teenage years saying, ”I breaks bread with these baseheads,” indicating he had to sell coke to make ends meet.

poli43The dominant mode of life for black New Orleans residents consisted of selling drugs, evading the police, and going in and out of prison. Eventually, the New Orleans Police Department declared a ‘War on Drugs’ against black youth. C-Murder, growing up in these repressive times, describes ”on the spot money bustin’ out my socks, boy its hot and now these cops on my jock, boy.” Though the drug economy is quite profitable, black youth must successfully evade the police to survive. As Mayor Sidney Barthemely lost control of the Police Department, their increasingly corrupt practices would classify them as nothing more than another gang.

benardhousingPolice would routinely rob drug dealers for quick cash, and even plant drugs on innocent blacks and bring them up on false charges. Police brutality became the norm; black mothers living in housing projects feared their small children would be brutalized by police, thus, even when there was genuine problems in their housing projects, they were hesitant to call the police. The police corruption within the city was so notorious that African-American Marc H. Morial became mayor by campaigning on the platform that he would overhaul the entire department. But, even as a black mayor, the city planning, institutions, and all other facets of New Orleans had been set up to discriminate and oppress African-Americans. This institutionalized racism would not be something that his administration could overcome. The years of discriminatory public housing, years of disenfranchisement, and police repression would concentrate both anti-social behavior and poverty in the black community, and this would be showcased during Hurricane Katrina with helpless blacks drowning in water or stranded on top of roofs begging for help.

In the next article, we will demonstrate how the impact of Hurricane Katrina more severely impacted blacks due to the racist urban planning. We will also take a look at institutionalized racism in the post-Katrina era.

References

Black Rage in New Orleans: Police Brutality and African Mmerican activism from World War II to Hurricane Katrina by Leonard N Moore

How Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow?: Racism in 21st-century New Orleans  By Liza Lugo

The Street Scriptures

The Street Scriptures

The vast majority of blacks across inner-cities find themselves born into violent, poverty-stricken neighborhoods, and everybody is struggling to make it out. Kids die young; crying mothers watch in horror as the carcasses of their dead sons, deformed by bullet holes, are hauled off. The face of desperation is illustrated on the face of disenfranchised youth who look to crime as the only way to have what others are given at birth: food, clothing, and shelter. Many don’t expect to live past eighteen years old. They live a life of brutality and profound misery; in the wealthiest nation on earth, they live in utter poverty. Hip-hop emerged within these impoverished social conditions and reveals vividly the plight facing these youth. Nas remarks, “Street scriptures for lost souls in the crossroads.” His one-time rival Jay-Z remarks, ”Never read the Qur’an or Islamic Scriptures, only Psalms I read was on the arms of my niggas.” In these oppressed neighborhoods, the music often conveys both the conditions of the people and the morals which come from the laws of the streets, not religious textbooks.

The album Illmatic served as a street scripture. Coming out in the year 1994, it combined profound lyricism with great vocabulary, a nasty flow, and stories conveying the realities of the streets. In “Represent,” Nas spits, ”Straight up shit is real and any day could be your last in the jungle. Get murdered on a humble, guns blast, niggas tumble. The corners is the hot spot, full of mad criminals… who don’t care, guzzling beers, we all stare.” The line, ”Anyday could be your last in the jungle” refers to the low life expectancy in the hood -many youth don’t see themselves living past 21. .  Nas further illustrates this with the line,” like “crews without guns are goners” demonstrating how difficult it is to survive without resorting to violence.  In the neighborhoods, the drug economy serves as the main source of employment due to the lack of job opportunities.  The hood is called the jungle because of the bewildered, sporadic nature of life there – gun fire, police brutality, and fist fights can occur at any time. There is no source of stability. “Guns blast, niggas tumble” refers to the dead bodies piling up from the various street conflicts. “The corners the hot spot, full of mad criminals who don’t care” is, of course, describing the mentality of the youth on the corner that live with no source of social mobility, causing their source of consciousness and ethics to dissolve.They can’t survive holding onto morals, so they simply don’t care who their violence or behavior affects.

98188-stashIn the classic intro to Stillmatic, Nas spits, “Stepped over dope fiends. Walking out the door, all of us poor. I learned the difference between the snitches, the real ones, and whose soft and the murderous hungriest crews, people jumping from roofs, shotguns pumpin, made it through my youth.” The hood produces many dope fiends – addicts to heroin- many turn to drugs as a coping mechanism for the pain and anguish they face every day in the hood. “All of us poor” refers to the ubiquitous nature of poverty among black youth living in these neighborhoods. Nas proceeds to distinguish between the various personality types he witnessed in the hood from the “snitches” to “the real ones.” Snitches are informants to the police who report drug dealing and crime activity – these individuals are not liked in the hood because their actions often result in youth being victimized by the prison industrial complex or police brutality. “The real ones” refers to the full-time gangsters who truly embody the laws of the streets; despite what was said earlier about “those who don’t care,” within intra-gangs (or the hood in general), attributes such loyalty and bravery are often promoted. The murderous crews Nas speaks of refers to various gangs who have entered into the drug economy seeking to protect their territory via the barrel of a gun.

In “My Block,” Tupac Shakur further elaborates on the social conditions in the hood. He begins saying, ”On my block, it never fails to be gunshots. Can’t explain a mother’s pain when her son drops.” In these neighborhoods, gunshots are not a rarity, but rather something to be expected. Further, Tupac goes on to say, “No rest forever weary. My eyes stay teary for all the brothers I buried in the cemetery. Shit is scary how black on black crime is legendary, but sometimes necessary.” In such impoverished living arrangements, though black on black crime is recognized, youth are pitted together as their only way to survive. Tupac makes this point when he states, “God help me cause I’m starving, can’t get a job. So I resort to violent robberies, my life is hard.” The chorus of the song simply states, ”hard times is all I see,” which demonstrates the ubiquitous nature of struggle that they are in. Then Tupac makes a very profound statement: “From the Start, I felt the racism cause I’m dark.” Nas makes a similar statement: “It seems like the darker you are, the bigger your problems.”

Though they have no degree in sociology, no knowledge of the scientific studies conducted on the correlation of skin color to social The Third World Inside of America: A Critical Look at the Southside of Chicago PT 1standings, nor have they have read a paper on the still prevalent nature of institutionalized racism (even in the age of Obama), they are largely aware of racism in our society because they are the ones who endure it. Indeed, all of the abhorrent conditions described in the street scriptures above are not the result of innate moral defiance within the people, rather, they are created by the legacy of Jim Crow and on-going institutionalized racism. In this society, which creates conditions in which crime is the only way to survive, the young black’s access to social mobility is severely hampered. These street scriptures spread awareness of the on-going legacy of Jim Crow and the systematic structural violence affecting black youth. By calling attention to these narratives, we can challenge the erroneous notion that the end of legal racism and the end of Jim Crow laws led to the end of “institutionalized racism” or real material benefit in the lives of African-Americans.

The Making of Chopper City: Black Life In New-Orleans (Hood Series)

In the public eye, New Orleans is a wonderful place to retreat for Mardi Gras parades; the eager tourists anticipate collecting beads and “Who Dat” souvenirs. Or they come to the Crescent City in anticipation of the annual Jazz-fest, topping their evening off by treating themselves to beignets in the French Quarters. At the heart of Bourbon Street, there are many clubs and bars providing much entertainment to sightseers. This is the New Orleans that attracts tourists far and wide! Yet, beyond these affluent attractions there exists another world that tourists do not dare journey into, and it is colloquially referred to as Chopper City.

The etymological origins of Chopper City are due to one fundamental reality: an AK-47 is needed for survival in these war zones. In Chopper City, there are excruciatingly high levels of poverty, the drug economy is dominant, and black on black violence is omnipresence. City planners do not devote nearly as much time to the well-being of Chopper City  as they do tourist attractions; while driving through streets riddled with potholes, choppers can be heard blasting. The Magnolia rapper Souljah Slim describing the consequences of this dire social neglect in Chopper City proclaims, “M’mma pray for her baby ‘cause I stayed in war.” Black youth are indeed at war, not only with one another, but with outside forces as well.

The declaration of Magnolia artist Lil Wayne which is ”a young nigga screaming f*ck the world,” is often perceived as anti-social; such messages are often why Hip-Hop artists are lambasted throughout the conservative media. Rappers are condemned for conveying negative social messages and embodying every flawed element of urban city culture: ignorant, rowdy, and violent. Yet, this s assertion of Lil Wayne is much deeper that one may suppose, as it demonstrates a fundamental fact about black existence in America: Lil Wayne has no choice but to put his middle finger up to the world; the world that he lives in is anti-black.

Following the Civil War, the black forefathers of the New Orleans artist endured a variety of repressive black code laws which intended to neworleansfreedomandindsolidify a white over black hierarchy. Within this post-plantation slavery period, the police of New Orleans were active Klansman who would terrorize the black community through lynching and even sexual assaults of black women.   Despite the fact that there was no source of employment for blacks, vagrancy laws were passed to prosecute unemployed blacks. These laws built the newly formed convict leasing system by ensuring that blacks would be used as slaves even after the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This oppression ensured that whites would continue to benefit from the enslavement of blacks, and continue to amass vast wealth from black suffering.

In 1937, a racial caste system would be enforced by the New Orleans Housing Authority who explicitly established segregated housing for neworlean4blacks, intentionally putting them in areas most susceptible to flooding. Blacks were continuously segregated and their lives were treated as though they were worthless; in the sixties, chemical plants were constructed near black neighborhoods. This would work to ensure that toxic pollution contaminated the air that blacks had no choice but to breathe in. Through lyrics, Lil Wayne states, “Stuck in the hood like they put cement on us,” which is a reality: the planning of New Orleans was structured firmly upon a racist ideology that intended to segregate blacks into impoverished social neighborhoods.

“The presidential double R, call that Ronald Reagan.” Though Lil Wayne is able to enjoy cruising in a Rolls Royce due to the hip hop industry, Reagonomics trickled down and devastated the black community at large. Social services were drastically cut, and the tax code was constructed to favor the wealthy. In the eighties, due to Reagan, the dreaded figure of the “black criminal” emerged within political advertisements. White politicians would chastise black youth as criminals, drug dealers, and rapists and call for ‘law and order’ in order to protect the good, white citizenry. Within New Orleans, whites began settling in Slidell and other suburbs, the local black population would still be in segregated public housing. The wealth never actually did trickle down; instead, as jobs moved out of the inner-city, New Orleans began cutting back on social services. There would be little opportunity for social mobility for black Americans. Describing these hectic times, C- Murder describes his teenage years saying, ”I breaks bread with these baseheads,” indicating he had to sell coke to make ends meet.

poli43The dominant mode of life for black New Orleans residents consisted of selling drugs, evading the police, and going in and out of prison. Eventually, the New Orleans Police Department declared a ‘War on Drugs’ against black youth. C-Murder, growing up in these repressive times, describes ”on the spot money bustin’ out my socks, boy its hot and now these cops on my jock, boy.” Though the drug economy is quite profitable, black youth must successfully evade the police to survive. As Mayor Sidney Barthemely lost control of the Police Department, their increasingly corrupt practices would classify them as nothing more than another gang.

benardhousingPolice would routinely rob drug dealers for quick cash, and even plant drugs on innocent blacks and bring them up on false charges. Police brutality became the norm; black mothers living in housing projects feared their small children would be brutalized by police, thus, even when there was genuine problems in their housing projects, they were hesitant to call the police. The police corruption within the city was so notorious that African-American Marc H. Morial became mayor by campaigning on the platform that he would overhaul the entire department. But, even as a black mayor, the city planning, institutions, and all other facets of New Orleans had been set up to discriminate and oppress African-Americans. This institutionalized racism would not be something that his administration could overcome. The years of discriminatory public housing, years of disenfranchisement, and police repression would concentrate both anti-social behavior and poverty in the black community, and this would be showcased during Hurricane Katrina with helpless blacks drowning in water or stranded on top of roofs begging for help.

In the next article, we will demonstrate how the impact of Hurricane Katrina more severely impacted blacks due to the racist urban planning. We will also take a look at institutionalized racism in the post-Katrina era.

References

Black Rage in New Orleans: Police Brutality and african american activism from World War II to Hurricane Katrina by Leonard N Moore

How Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow?: Racism in 21st-century New Orleans  By Liza Lugo

Rahm’s Re-Election? Does Rahm care about black people?

Rahm Emanuel’s Re-election

rahmemanuel

I met Rahm Emanuel while I was in high-school along with the other mayoral candidates.   I told them that I wanted to be a social activist and they subsequently encouraged me to enter Law-School. Of course, Rahm Emanuel ended up winning the election but the critical question after his term is: does Rahm Emanuel care about black people?

Rahm Emanuel  speeches and policies have demonstrated a gross ignorance of the on-going plight of black youth chicagoin the the South-Side of Chicago.  In the face of gang violence that has been terrorizing Chicago, he had this to say,“Our streets are for our children and for our law-abiding parents. Our streets do not belong to gang-bangers.”

Yet, Rahm Emanuel never asks himself,”What created the gang-bangers?” Indeed, what about the children who are gang bangers such as Robert Sandifer who at only nine years old,  had already been in and out of jail multiple times, deeply involved in the South Chicago street life, committing a series of armed robberies and arson. Yummy, hadn’t even reached his teenage years before he began carrying out murders for his local gangs. Worse yet, he didn’t even live to reach his teenage years before he was shot and killed himself.

Chicago Gangs & Their Origins

chicagoChicago 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, replacing it with a stone cold heart that is seen as necessary to survive on these mean streets. 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 White Circle League, formed with the mission of “keeping white neighborhoods free from negroes,” regularly chicagoraceriotsterrorized African-Americans in Chicago.  Between 1917 and 1921, the bombing of African-American homes occurred once every twenty days on average. In 1919, an African-American boy who was swimming was killed as a result of whites throwing heavy rocks at him. When blacks sought to report the incident to police, they themselves were arrested while the white individuals who had killed this young man went unpunished.   As African-Americans began peacefully protesting, whites began to violently assault them, forming mobs that eventually sought to harm African-Americans through various avenues, from attacking patients in black hospitals to setting fire to the homes of blacks. The Irish Hamburg Athletic Club was among the groups who made an effort to kill many blacks; a man who would eventually become mayor decades later – Richard J. Daley – was an active member of this group. These violent attacks left many African-Americans homeless, causing them to lose the relatively small amount of wealth that they had come up north to accumulate. Furthermore, the Irish gangs who carried out these brutal attacks would in mass numbers be recruited to the Chicago Police Department.

The Chicago Housing Authority also implemented the “Neighborhood Composition Rule,” which ensured that blacks would be segregated and confined to housing in the black belt. The housing for black Americans lacked plumbing and was routinely neglected; the neighborhoods did not even receive the benefit of regular garbage disposal services. In addition to being near toxic waste dumps, the decrepit housing set aside for blacks drastically increased the levels of infant mortality.  Even after the neighborhood composition rule ended, whites would take to violence to ensure segregation.

In Englewood, the  birthplace of rappers Chief Keef & Lil Reese, was once a bastion of white supremacy. After lilrees2African-Americans had   merely visited the neighborhood, due to fears that a home was going to be “sold to niggers,” neighborhood associations campaigned with slogans like “America for whites, Africa is the onl y place for niggers.” One white person being interviewed argued that, “We don’t want them, we don’t want to live with them. I think they’re savages. ” With protest signs stating, ”Negroes Invading,” whites began the ‘Englewood Race Riots of 1949,’ not only carrying brutal acts of violence against African-American citizens, but also finding black residential homes to arson, which left many blacks dead, homeless, and losing all of their property. All of this set the precedence of the creation of the ghettos within the city due to the huge wealth loss that black families had struggled to gain. White Flight  took place and years later Lil reese would rap,”I lost so many niggas, turned into a savage. In real life, no movie shit, bitch we clap. Where I’m from? Chiraq.”

The linguistic choice to dub their areas of the city “Chiraq” by Chicago’s youth conveys a fundamental reality about the status of black Americans; it reveals that they constitute a segregated space in  the United states, effectively challenging the commonly held belief in the post-Civil Rights era of America in which  institutional racism is said to be gradually fading as we move towards a  more progressive society, heading more towards  accomplishing  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream with every passing year. After the death of Chicago public school student Hadiya Pendleton, President Barack Obama made the tragic death a mere issue of “gun-violence” and utilized it to advocate tougher gun control legislation, without acknowledging the oppression that went into creating the violent conditions in her community.

The name Chiraq, which is frequently employed the black Chicagoans, has attracted much criticism, wjojoripeith some arguing that its utilization glorifies an urban culture of violence. Lil Reese, who grew up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, describes his upbringing by forcefully testifying, “I lost so many niggas, turned into a savage […] Where I’m from? This Chiraq.” In numerous rap videos, these self-proclaimed savages residing within the enclave of Chiraq appear brandished with weapons that are suitable for military combat. Their T-shirts often have insignia that reads ”R.I.P______,” with the blank filled by the names of deceased peers.

  What has Rahm Emanuel done to address institutional racism?

He has not addressed institutional racism but only continued it. Rahm Emanuel  closed down numerous Chicago Public Schools with aims of pursuing his “neoliberal” school policies. The problem with that is the redistricting of the school zones will cause students to cross rival gang territory on their way to their new school. This means that for those whom have been lured into gangs through an oppressive economic system, and even for those not in gangs, traveling to school every day will be a life or death gamble as the gang members protect their territory and children abstinent of the gangs are caught in the crossfire.

These gang members have been systematically disenfranchised and instead of working to rehabilitate gang members into society, they have only responded through increased police occupation of black neighborhoods and have failed to implement policies of social justice that confront the legacy of past and systemic racism.  Rahm Emanuel’srahmmmmmhakeem decision to close and redistrict schools despite overwhelming evidence that it will increase violence  raises any interesting question. Does  he want to see black kids die? The continued segregated status of black Americans, which separates them from white America,  protects white Americans from the social problems, drugs, gang wars, and violence, which are a result of an unjust social order. The complicity and perpetration of this racial segregation includes both conservative right wing forces, many of whom deny racism is even a viable factor in the social mobility of blacks, often blaming “immoral black culture.” Also complicit are  liberal left wing forces seeking to liberalize America while  reinforcing the violence against African-American  by spreading the narrative of “steady progress” for blacks and thus obfuscating their true plight and the desperate living conditions they live within.

—————————————————————–

 References

Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A living Black in Chicago by Paul Street.

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

Making of the Second Ghetto, Race * Housing in Chicago 1940-1960 by Arnold R. Hirsch

Black Literature of Revolutionary Protest from Chicago’s South Side: A Local …By Michelle Yvonne Gordon

A Receipt for a Human Being: Ghetto Prisoners Rise!

The first peculiar institution aimed at defining, controlling and confining its black population was plantation slavery.  Afro-Americans are cognizant that their ancestors came to America not on the comfortable mayflower as pilgrims, but on tightly-packed ships as slaves.  While Americans of European descent can discuss their Irish, Scottish, or English heritage, Afro-Americans have been robbed of their heritage to be able to know what ethnic group in Africa they come from – whether the Yoruba, Ashanti, or Igbo, they can only speculate.   The Middle Passage and subsequent forced labor of Africans destroyed the kinship structure of Africans, thus current Afro-Americans have been deprived of detailed information denoting where their ancestors labored, who exactly their ancestors were, and who owned their ancestors.

 

rootsThe PBS Program Finding Your Roots hosted by Henry Louis Gates seeks to fulfill this void in black history.  In a recent episode, the Queens Bridge poet Nasir Jones is informed that his 3rd great grandmother Pocahontas was purchased for a mere $830 when she was fifteen years old.  Nasir Jones looks upon the receipt issued for his foremother, ponders it for a while, and with a sobering pain inside him laments, “That hurts.” He poses the rhetorical question, “A receipt for a human-being?” It is agonizing for him to fathom that his foremother was considered as a mere piece of property, but Nasir Jones presses on, although nothing could mentally prepare him for the next segment.

 

ghettoprisonersNasir Jones is shown a picture of a bearded man. Dr. Gates states, “This is the white man who owned your ancestor.”  With ache showcasing in his face expression, Nasir proclaims,” This is the face that my ancestors look at every day? The eyes they looked at. Now I am looking in their world. Now I can see where they walked, what they saw.”  Nasir Jones was able to attach names to faces evoking deep-reflection, though Pocahontas was eventually freed from plantation slavery, along with the masses of black people, centuries later. In a poem by Nasir Jones, he describes people who are ‘trapped in slums’ and are subsequently ‘headed for nothing but the state pen, where they cousins be waiting.’  He calls these people ‘ghetto prisoners’ and in the chorus he protests, “Ghetto Prisoners Rise! Rise! Rise Rise!”

 

nasbiglSuch a declarative plea from Nasir Jones hints that even in the Post-Plantation Slavery Era, there is a yearning for a type of freedom among black youth that was not solidified or secured in the emancipation proclamation or the Civil Rights Legislation; rather, his description denotes that a more structural and still-present structural system is in place, in which masses of America’s black population are confined to ghettos that are characterized by poor housing, education, and decrepit living conditions.   The purpose of the ghetto according to sociologist Wacquant is to function as a “device for caste control” dedicated to the “containment of lower class African-Americans.”  Nasir describes a social phenomenon, in which the avenues for social mobility are so obsolete that black ‘ghetto prisoners’ live a life that consists of drug trafficking and are subsequently funneled into the state penitentiary, as an ever-present and normalized living condition.

 

blackprisoner2Indeed, Nasir’s observations stemming from looking out of his project windows are supported by a statistical reality. One-third of African-American men who are in their twenties are either behind prison bars, on parole, probation or some tutelage of the prison system. Wacquant notes that, “The rate of incarceration for African-Americans has soared to astronomical levels unknown in any other society, not even the Soviet Union at the Zenith of the Gulag or South Africa during the acme of the violent struggles over Apartheid.”  Indeed, being killed at an early age or facing a lengthy prison sentence is a common social predicament for Ghetto Prisoners, whose incarceration rates are unparalleled in human history.   In the Post-Civil Rights era in which laws aimed at segregating blacks have been overturned, how does one explain this social reality?  It requires a comprehensive understanding of the various peculiar institutions that have existed in American history aimed at defining, confiding and controlling its black population.

 

The first peculiar institution that African-Americans experienced was plantation slavery, which Nas’ 3rd great grandmother Pocahontas lincolnendured. Plantation slavery was not ended in order benefit black people or to secure social and economic equality for blacks.  This is confirmed by the words of Abraham Lincoln who said, “If I could save The Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it,” as well as, “I will say, then, that I am not nor have ever been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races.” In reality, slavery was ended because it was no longer economically suitable; America had to compete with Europe and industrialize, and thus plantation slavery would end.

blackcodesAfter the end of plantation slavery with the rise of industrialization, in the south the next peculiar institution would be Black Codes and a system of Jim Crow’s laws.  Such laws aimed to keep Afro-Americans confined and excluded them from all social and political institution.  Many blacks would find themselves back on plantations to partake in sharecropping under a system of debt peonage, a de facto system of slavery.  Those who took jobs in mining and industry would be subjected to the most gruesome and dangerous of working conditions.  During this peculiar institution, segregation would be ever-present in every facet of American life and lynching and violence towards black people would be frequent.

 

neroesJim Crow’s laws mandating segregation by the law largely came to an end in 1965, though de jure segregation would remain and continue to remain in the present.  Segregation has seeped so fully into American political institutions that it was able to continue even without explicit laws.  In every area of American society, from employment opportunities and housing opportunities, to educational opportunities, segregation is the norm.  During the great migration Afro-Americans would en-masse come to the North, where they would still endure segregation and often violence.  Yet blacks would still serve a positive economic function; in northern areas blacks would be utilized as a source for cheap labor in factories and reservoir for cheap labor for the factories of the city.

 

queensbridgeThe hyper-imprisonment of blacks is not a product of the enduring legacy of political disenfranchisement and segregation from the peculiar institution of Jim Crow as some have theorized; rather, it is a functioning of a current and systemic racialized peculiar institution that operates even with a black President and the removal of Jim Crow’s Laws.  The era of globalization gave birth to a new peculiar institution known as the hyper-ghetto – jobs were outsourced overseas, and the economy of the metropolis transitioned from manufacturing to knowledge-based services.  As a result, Wacquant notes that, “for the first time in American history, the African American was no longer needed in the economic system of the metropolis.”  Wacquant further highlights that the system in place has “consign[ed] the vast majority of uneducated blacks to economic redundancy.”

 

For black prison inmates, the vast majorit yearned less than one thousand dollars a month and grew up in a single parent household that jungle received welfare, and a significant portion were unemployed when arrested.  But the ‘black question’ for the United States government is what is to be done with this disposable ghetto population who inevitably turn to drug-trafficking and crime and function as a ‘menace to society’?  This is where the prison system comes into place; according to Wacquant it functions as “a human warehouse wherein are discarded those segments of urban society deemed to disreputable, derelict, and dangerous.”  Furthermore the ghetto contains large cases of police containment and brutality; large mechanisms to monitor the populations, as even the school-systems in black communities are over- policed.  In effect, the Ghetto exists as a peculiar institution to direct its black inhabitants to prison.

 

prisionPoet Big L, a ghetto prisoner of Harlem, describes his childhood upbringing as a chaotic reality characterized by a lack of food, clothing, and adequate shelter.  The crack epidemic ravished his entire community and his parents were non-functioning. He sees his life heading towards a complete ‘dead end’; he partakes in drug trafficking as a means to survive, yet, he eventually recognizes prison life as something inevitable and even preferable to street life, “Where I grew up it was a living hell. When I started to realize – I’m better off in a prison cell.”  After partaking in a robbery he is given a jail sentence, but even after his sentence was over and he is back on the streets, he makes efforts to pull himself up ‘by the bootstraps’ – yet he eventually finds himself in the same predicament, “Either I’ma go back 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.”

 
The reason why Big L could not receive a fair shot is because while the oppression of black people has transitioned and altered as America hasdrugwarundergone economic changes, the fundamental reality of a white over black hierarchy has not.  The current mass imprisonment of black youth exists then in Wacquant’s analysis as a “recruiting of the American state to suit the requirements of neo-liberalism.” Henceforth Nasir Jones raises the fundamental question in Ghetto Prisoners,” Who’s to be praised? The mighty dollar — or almighty Allah.”  This is not to say the mere oppression of blacks is simply a function of class, as Wacquant notes, “because America is the one society that has pushed the market logic of commodification of social relations and state devolution to the furthest.”  Rather, it seeks to make invisible racialized oppression a mask, focusing instead on “urban crime”, “criminal underclass” and “welfare-dependency” code words for blacks.  Food deserts, police brutality, gang conflicts, and shootouts are some of the unique social situations within these hyper-ghettoes that characterize it are separate peculiar institutions separate from mainstream, white-dominated American society aimed at defining, controlling, and confining black youth.  The plea for “ghetto prisoners to rise” by Nasir Jones is then a call to overcome white oppression of the black populations.

—-

Nas enslaved ancestors, PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/nas-enslaved-ancestors-receipt-human/12115/

Ghetto Prisoners by Nas

When Ghetto and Prison Meet and Mesh by Loic Wacquant,

The new ‘peculiar institution’: On the prison as surrogate ghetto by Loic Wacquant

Abraham Lincoln, http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/the-lincoln-douglas-debates-4th-debate-part-i/

Watching Your Back: Black Life in Chicago (The Hood Series)

The Hood Series

                The Hood Series will comprehensively analyze, dissect, and convey the social plight of black youth throughout ghettoes in America. It comptongang4will investigate the on-going institutionalized racism ubiquitous in city-planning, resource allocation, development strategies and a wide variety of methods that are strategically utilized to create, maintain, and exploit the hood. Furthermore, to keep it authentic, the local Hip Hop scene will be juxtaposed with the latest statistics and research related to the status of black America. In each article, we will tackle common myths that are widespread in America that serve as proof of black progress in the Post-Civil Rights era, such as black politicians , elite/upper class blacks, and classism being a more pervasive oppressive structure in America than race. These myths in Post-Civil Rights America, that serve to obfuscate the plight of black America. In the Hood Series, the following regional areas will be examined:

  • Chicago (Chiraq)
  • New-Orleans (Chopper City)
  • Philadelphia (Killadelphia )
  • Baltimore
  • Compton
  • Detroit
  • Atlanta
  • Harlem
  • New Jersey

Hood Series: The True Meaning of Chiraq p1

mlkrock1In 1949, a mob of 2000 irate whites galvanized in Park Manor to scorch crosses as they passionately chanted, “We Want Fire, We Want Blood” as they organized their next move. In their eyes, they faced a catastrophic social problem which justified violence: a black family had the audacity to ‘step out of their place’ by infesting this all-white neighborhood with their presence.[i] In an effort to prevent this from happening, this group of whites set out to destroy their home.   Dr. Martin Luther King came to Chicago in 1965, seeking to make a change. His goals were to protest the segregated public school system, along with the discrimination in housing, which resulted in dilapidated black slums. During his march, white protesters gathered around him, one with a sign that boldly stated, “King would look good with a knife in his back,” while another protester threw a heavy rock at him which caused him to fall to the ground. [ii]

King stated the racist violence he endured in Chicago was more hostile than anything he experienced in the south. In order to show his chicagopolice3solidarity to black ghetto inhabitants, he stayed in an apartment on the west side. Eventually, Mayor Daley, annoyed by the protests in Chicago, came to a compromise with King by promising to provide fair housing if he would cease marching. Though the Fair Housing Act was passed, whites would resort to redlining, blockbusting, and other mechanisms to maintain segregation that rendered the legislation useless. Douglas S. Massey concluded in his study on housing discrimination: “Since the passing of the Fair Housing Act, the level of black-white segregation has hardly changed.” [iii]Indeed, if Dr. Martin Luther Martin came to visit Chicago today, he would find blacks living in the same appalling social conditions that he came to protest against; he would come to black areas of Chicago still living in slums with cameras on poles utilized to monitor high drug trafficking areas.

bibby34Growing up in one of these segregated areas, Chicago rapper Lil Bibby states, “Came a long way from duckin’ shots in the field.” The Hip Hop industry is often viewed by black youth in war-torn inner-cities as the quickest route to transitioning from rags to riches. Lil Bibby, in particular, through his lyrics explains to his listeners that his life growing up in Chicago consisted of having to continuously dodge bullets, but now he seeks comfort in the Hip Hop industry. The field that he calls attention to is the same place where wars occur; being involved in the drug trade comes at a hefty price. Discrimination in pervasive in employment, and is a huge factor that lures black youth into the underground drug trade. Even in the Post-Civil Rights era, black children living within Chicago’s ghettoes are isolated within peripheral enclaves and, as a result, they have minimum access the language, businesses, and activities of the rest of society. Blacks constitute a segregated group that is Third World Status, which is why the average black male youth throughout disadvantage neighborhoods of Chicago have a lower life expectancy than adult males in Bangladesh.  The now destroyed  Rockwell Garden housing projects, once had  infant mortality rates that rivaled that of third world nations.[iv]

A study by the NAACP found that Chicago Public Schools are still in a de facto state of segregation[v]; four of every five black students wouldchicagowearareyou have to transfer schools in order to be adequately integrated in Chicago’s school system. Within these black schools, the majority of students are low income; the schools suffer from unequal resources when compared to majority white schools. In an interview with Sway, Lil Bibby is asked what is it like being in Chicago to which Lil Bibby responds, ”You always have to watch your back.”[vi] In contrast to when Dr. Martin Luther King visited Chicago and was threatened to be stabbed in the back by whites, blacks must now watch their backs to defend themselves from other blacks in these violent neighborhoods. It was an exhausting effort for whites to continuously bomb, terrorize, and keep blacks separated, thus the consciousness of blacks would be manipulated, and exploitative social conditions would be imposed upon them so that they would carry out acts of violence against themselves.

essexBlack deaths resulting from race riots and lynchings (which were often made to be an entertaining family event for whites to attend), and bombings of black churches are replete throughout the history of America. The overt acts of racist violence in the modern era are continuously condemned and seen as a thing of the past. Yet, what is not properly analyzed and condemned is institutional racism. Black babies in Chicago have infant mortality rates rivaling third world countries, and they continue to die due to racial disparities in health care services; they are continually subjected to poor housing, real estate agents who partake in racially discriminatory practices, and oppressive economic conditions that laid the foundation for today’s gang violence. Despite the high levels of food insufficiency, poverty, and inadequate social services in the black community in Chicago, millions of dollars were spent to build and renovate  Millennium Park, Soldier Field, McCormick Place, and other touroist  attractions. Moreover, Chicago spent $2.5 billion for their share in the cost in the imperialistic Iraq war – money which could have been utilized to provide basic needs for black families. [vii]This is the institutionalized racism which is often more deadly than personal acts of racial violence because it is invisible and ignored.

In the next article, we will look at the on-going instances of institutionalized racism in Chicago which maintains the ghettos within the city.

——————————————————-

[i] Racial Oppression In The Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History by Paul L. Street. (pg 103)

[ii] King Brings His Protest to Chicago, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1997-09-16/news/9709160108_1_king-marquette-park-demonstrations

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

 

[iv] Racial Oppression In The Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History by Paul L. Street. (pg 140)

[v] Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History  By Paul Louis Street (PG 91)

 

[vi] Lil Bibby, And Sway, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Vn-myn-FY

[vii] Racial Oppression In The Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History by Paul L. Street (pg 8)

Killadelphia: Even Though What We Do is Wrong! (Hood Series)

kill

Fed up with taxation without representation, America’s founding fathers signed the declaration of independence in Philadelphia. As a result, Philadelphia became known as the city of brotherly love. Yet, Black people in Philadelphia have never experienced this liberty.  Philadelphia was a prime target for African-Americans during the great migration, and it quickly became a white on black killing field. In one incident, a large horde of angry whites who were upset about potential “race-mixing” violently attacked the black community. In addition to violent attacks, the Philadelphia Housing Authority created segregated housing, placing blacks in the most decrepit areas.

In Lower North Philadelphia, the majority of black homes lacked not only heating, but also plumbing; undernourishment among children was also common.

Thus, whites were able to accumulate capital and pass estate to their future generations, while blacks in these segregated communities were denied such opportunities. As a result of racist city-planning, African-Americans in the Moayamensin Slums lived life below the poverty line with an infant mortality rate double that of whites.

Today, Philadelphia is an epicenter for black-on-black crime; despite African-Americans making up only 43% of the population, roughly 80% of all murder victims in the city were black. From 2007 to 2010, over 90% of homicide victims below the age of 18, were black males, and roughly all the murderers were fellow young black men.

This franticide in the black community led journalist Palash Ghosh to comment, “As the drug trade remains highly active and the economy remains depressed, Philadelphia will likely stay a killing field for young black men.”

Philadelphia is  known as the city of liberty, and is home to Fairmount Park – the largest landscape park in the  world – and a variety of profitable Fortune 500 companies.  Yet, there is another area of Philadelphia devoid of such attractions. Barry Adrian Reese, who goes by the moniker Cassidy, describes his community as, “Killadelphia, Pistolvania”. True to the description, this “other” Philadelphia is notorious for its crackheads and crack babies, high levels of urban crime, and an ever-pervasive drug economy.

phillly435Despite being known as the city of brotherly love, there is no love for blacks who face oppression in the 21st century – oppression which is considerably more tyrannical than the founding fathers faced: the deprivation of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is carried out in the form of redlining to maintain segregated housing, discriminations in employment to maintain impoverished housing, segregated school to maintain an uneducated population, and an inequitable judicial system to funnel this population into the prison-industrial complex.

The poverty that breeds drug economies impacts black communities the most; in Philadelphia, blacks are exposed to poverty rates at three times the rates of whites. Sociologist John Logan states in his study that “Philadelphia’s black population, and particularly its affluent black population, lives in much poorer neighborhoods than comparable whites because they are so highly segregated by race.”

The study entitled “The Death Penalty in Black and White: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides” found that merely being black increased the probability of being given the death sentence more than smoking increased the probability of developing cancer.

Thomas Jefferson was outraged over taxation without representation, but significantly more atrocious is the daily plight of black Americans.

Thomas Jefferson was able to list the grievances that Americans endured from the British Empire, such as a lack of access to a fair trial and taxation without representation. If a group of black intellectuals came together, seeking to list every black grievance against the U.S. government from redlining, gentrification, discriminatory employment practices, blockbusting, economic deprivation, and an imposed drug economy, etc., it would far surpass the grievances noted by the founding fathers. This reality raises an interesting question: “Is it time for black people to call for freedom and independence?”

===============

Sources Used:  The encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, Great Depression,

http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/category/roger-d-simon/ Realtors and Racism in Working-Class Philadelphia, 1945-1970 Study,

Philly, 9th Most Segregated Metro In U.S.

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Study-Phillys-9th-most-segregated-metro-in-US.html#hZGL0ZiMwPJb21he.99

Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era: Now You See It, Now You Don’t By Robert Charles Smith

Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy