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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.

 

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.

Chiraq’s Child Soldiers

Think back to when you were nine years old. At this age, most kids in America are able to 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. 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[1].

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[2].

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.”  [3]

  

The song then ends with a beautiful, eloquent excerpt of a speech by 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[4].  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. [5]

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.” [6]

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.  You can tell by the tone of Hardaway quote that he is fully capable of being rehabilitated, becoming a productive member of society.

Big L, in his song, ‘How Will I Make It” portrays a similar narrative:

“I’m only at the age of ten and life already seems to me like its heading for a dead end. Cause my moms be smoking mad crack… Nobody know how I feel … I had to steal to fill my stomach with a nice meal… I rob for meat. If I don’t steal I don’t eat. My whole life deserted. Either Imma go to jail or get murdered. All I tried to do was live the one life that I got. But it seems like I can’t get a fair shot.” [8]

From Hip-HopGame.com

Indeed, Yummy, Big L, and millions of unnamed inner-city black youth never had a fair shot in this country, yet America deludes itself as the foremost purveyor of freedom in the world. White Liberals adamantly believe that black people are making ‘steady progress’ in this country often pointing to blacks in ‘high places’ such as Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, and, of course, the President Barack Obama. White Republicans, despite being a cesspool for vicious racists, refuse to give credence to the notion that systematic racism severely restricts the social mobility of African-Americans.

Both of these parties believe that the discrimination, oppression, and disenfranchisement of African-Americans was just a misunderstanding rather than a core element of the U.S. capitalist, imperialist system. The reality is that Civil Rights legislation was never passed for altruistic reasons and the condition of black people in urban areas of America has not improved at all since the civil rights legislation was passed – and this is no accident.

White people did not suddenly have a change of heart and decide to give black people rights—the American government acted in their own self-interest.  During the ‘Cold War,’  America and the Soviet Union were battling over competing ideologies both seeking to establish an imperialistic grip on the world. The American government branded itself the epitome of freedom and democracy while casting the Soviet Union as a communist, totalitarianism regime devoid of human rights and freedoms.  [9]

But then  the Soviet Union began to use video footage of African-Americans in the south having their flesh ripped into and eaten by vicious canines. America could no longer tell the world it was the epitome of human rights and freedom while subjugating its black population to this type of open overt torture and suffering without appearing like a hypocritical liar—thus, superficial changes had to be made in the power structure of America and the manner in which it carried out its oppression against black people. This was one factor that contributed to the passage of Civil Rights legislation.  [10]

Another factor that contributed to the decline of overt institutional racism against blacks was the threat of violence from blacks. After the cold blooded assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., [11] blacks in urban areas throughout America were outraged.  The government referred to the actions of African-Americans after King’s death as ‘riots’ rather than what they really were: rebellions!

Thus, something had to be done to appease blacks and quick; as blacks were heading towards a revolutionary path, something had to be down for America to gain an edge in this ideological war against the Soviet Union to not look absolutely ridiculous when proclaiming it was the leader of human rights and freedoms—thus Civil Rights legislation was passed.

Civil Rights legislation did a much better job at pacifying African-Americans than it ever did at putting an end to racial inequality, discrimination, and racism. In every area of American society from housing to health-care to employment opportunities, black people still face discrimination to this day. Civil Rights legislation was never adamantly enforced.  Chicago is among the most segregated cities in America. As whites live lavishly on the Northside, impoverished Blacks have been suffering on both the South and Westside for decades.  [12]

When Dr. Martin Luther King first came to Chicago he did so to protest housing segregation and the substandard housing of Chicago’s black population. White residents threw rocks at him while others held signs in protest, one reading, “Roses are red. Violents are Black. King would look good with a Knife in his back.” They then led a cheer saying ‘Kill Him!, Kill Him. [13]Over 40 years later, Southside Chicago neighborhoods are nicknamed in the streets (and for good reasons) as Terrortown and Killaward – areas that are just as ‘substandard,’ or perhaps more so, than when King took part in his first protest.  When a reporter asked Chief Keef how dangerous the Southside of Chicago was he simply responded with one word: “Chiraq.” Nothing has changed-  nothing.

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1)The Washington Syndicate,True Crime: The Forgotten Story of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, http://thewashingtonsyndicate.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/true-crime-the-forgotten-story-of-robert-%E2%80%9Cyummy%E2%80%9D-sandifer/

2) All Hail Chief Keef, Public Enemy #1, http://hakeemmuhammad.com/2012/11/28/all-hail-chief-keef-public-enemy-1/

3) Tupac, White mans world, http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/2pac/whitemansworld.html

4) Black Anarcism, Lorenzo Ervin, http://libcom.org/library/anarchism-black-revolution-lorenzo-ervin

5)The Washington Syndicate True Crime: The Forgotten Story of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer

http://thewashingtonsyndicate.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/true-crime-the-forgotten-story-of-robert-%E2%80%9Cyummy%E2%80%9D-sandifer/

6) IBID

7) Bob Avakian, Youth Deserve a better future,  http://www.youtube.com/user/RevolutionTalk

8) Big L, How Will I make It, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BL9l5CojBNQ

9) Bob Avakian, Revolution Talk.  http://www.youtube.com/user/RevolutionTalk

10)IBID

11) Peter Gelderloos,What is Democracy,  http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-what-is-democracy

12)Chicago Most Segregated City, http://chicagoist.com/2010/10/31/chicago_still_the_most_segregated_c.php

13,MLK, 2009 http://www.secretsocietymusic.org/darcy_james_argues_secret/2009/01/mlk-2009.html