A critical look at the South-Side of Chicago

Nearly everyone in Chiraq has friends who are now imprisoned, have been shot, or are now six feet in the ground.  This is a place where people shoot bullets with no regard for life, as if it is some type of video game. The brilliant thing about hip-hop is that it has allows for people at the absolute bottom of the socio-economic ladder, those who resort to selling drugs, violent robberies, and gang-banging to provide food, clothing, and shelter to gain riches and notoriety almost overnight through luxurious record contracts and it has also allowed their stories to be told via album releases and, more recently, YouTube. ‘The Third World Inside of America: A critical Look at the Southside of Chicago’ series will examine the social conditions in Chicago using primarily rapper-created lyrics and images coming, rappers in this area who expose the government’s role in maintaining poverty that in turn allows gang-violence to flourish.

Lil JOJO in the Field

First up is now deceased Rapper Lil JOJO who in his ’Shit Is Real’ song stated that “This shit is real in the field. So I keep the steel. You throw up a L you see how it feel.” Lil JOJO belonged to ‘BRICKSQUAD,’ a faction of the Gangsta Disciples. When he discussed being ‘in the field’ he is referring to selling drugs, being in enemy territory and partaking in the various activities typical of street organizations.  ‘To keep the steel” is to have a gun on you at all times, ready to preform hits if you are confronted by rival gang bangers.

The last line is very interesting, as Chief Keef and Lil Reese often begin their songs stating “Ls up.” This is them vocalizing their gang sign which represents the Lamron Faction of the Black Disciples. Both Black Disciples and Gangsta Disciples go to war over drug territory, but many of the recent shootings have been retaliatory.  In this song, Lil JOJO threatens those who put up Ls, saying that those who dare to put up this sign up will be shot.

In JOJO’s “Put In Work’ track, he further describes his life on a day to day basis, stating that, “I’m counting so much money my fingers hurt. Shooting all these guns now my fingers hurt. You better duck ‘cause these shells hurt… Gang-BANG doing hits.” Indeed, the picture to the left shows LIL JOJO with a wad of cash and the other shows him with automatic weapons. As a participant in the illegal economy, black youth often bring in fast money – but that money comes at a price; through violence gangs must use to defend their enterprise. If anyone attempts to encroach on their territory, they are forced to carry out ‘hits’. To do a hit means to shoot and kill rival streets organizations.  As black youth becomes accustomed to the street market, competition is not carried out in the form of price cuts and ad campaigns. Gang members compete over territory to sell their products and services. With no other source of income, protecting ones block or corner becomes a matter of life and death.

The Root Cause of JOJO’s violent Lyrics

There is no doubt that Lil JOJO’s lyrics were outright violent. Yet, we must examine the structural conditions that contributed to these social conditions. JOJO was from Altgeld Gardens, a predominantly African-American housing project that has the majority of its residents living under the poverty-line. This community was originally built for African-American World War II veterans—the Chicago Housing Authority did not want them to reside in whites areas and thus from its inception ‘Altgeld Gardens’ was designed to be a segregated community. Currently, it is among the lowest income communities in America. [1]

 jojoripeAdditionally, The Chicago Housing Authority constructed the housing without adequate plumbing technology and would not even give this community the benefit of regular garbage disposable services.  This community was essentially neglected. Perhaps more appalling and disgusting is the place that the Chicago Housing Authority decided to build this housing project. [2]

Lil Jojo’s community was built in an area surrounded by 53 toxic waste facilities and 90% of the Chicago’s landfills. It was filled with toxins such as ammonia gas, lead, heavy metals, and xylene and stood surrounded by a chemical waste incinerator. The residents of this area have an extremely high rate of children born with brain tumors; an abnormal number of fetuses in the area were aborted because of brains developing outside of the skull. These social conditions the government is directly responsible for lead to the infant mortality rate sky-rocketing, but children fortunate enough to make it teenage years are disproportionately affected by asthma as a direct result of this toxic waste.[3]

Moreover, since the community was essentially neglected, you can rest assured that any opportunities for employment are slim to none.  The majority of these households were female headed and lived below the poverty line with many of these mothers turning to drugs to help ease the pain that they faced every day.  Many mothers work very hard and seek employment but simply cannot provide for their children which in turn lures black youth to the drug economy to be given a chance to have the things that most other elasticities are given at birth—things such as food and clothing.  Black women also face numerous institutional hurdles- Recent studies indicate that Black women only make 63 cents for every dollar that white males make for equal work[4]. Moreover, as a result of indoctrination from the capitalist media, many youth are very materialistic and want the latest clothes (I.E Jordan’s, POLO, etc.). These are all things that lure black youth into the drug economy which in turn leads to vicious gang wars. These drugs wars are all rooted in poverty and gang members feel like “men” when they defend their turf-because they have no real power over the larger social and political system of America.

The older brother of JOJO had this to say “It was a character and just an image that he was giving, because that image is hot. We’re not from the North Side. We’re not from the nice community. We’re from the ’hood. We’re from where mothafuckas are hungry and ain’t got shit and it’s a matter of whether you’re a nigga that do eat or don’t. The nigga that eat do negative things to get it.”[5]

Indeed, his older brother was correct Jimmy Lovine, the CEO of Interscope whom signed Chief Keef to a multi-million dollar contract (JOJO was seeking the same thing), currently owns stocks in various prison corporations. This means he profits off the imprisonment of black youth. The more black youth in jail, the fatter his pockets get.  In jail, many blacks are forced to work for cheap labor—this is essentially a modern form of slavery.

The sad truth is, many blacks live in social conditions where crime is the only way to have the basic necessities of life– thus, these record labels are able to bring talented black youth from rags to riches almost overnight – but the violent nature of their lyrics and their widespread popularity can only contribute to furthering the prison system  as more black youth begin to act our these images.

Lil Reese

Next is Lil Reese, a Chiraq rapper, who is the right hand man of the now imprisoned rapper Chief Keef. He states that:

I lost so many niggas, turned into a savage.

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

Where I’m from? Chiraq……..

..300 Normal Spelled Backwards.—Lil Reese

 As stated earlier, many people growing up in Chiraq have lost many friends and relatives from the ensuing gang wars. Lil Reese indicates that he too has been affected by this and states that this is reality, not ‘movie shit.’ He’s done this in efforts to distinguish himself from  your typical studio-gangsters who make idle threats and appear ‘thugish’ in rap videos only to go back to their fancy homes after the video shoot to a full refrigerator and comfortable couches in the suburbs. His phrase ‘turned into a savage’ refers to the mentality that many people in his crew have developed from living in such appalling social conditions. A recent study indicates that black youth in Chiraq who are exposed to such violence develop post-traumatic stress disorders comparable to troops returning home from military combat[7]. However, for these youth, this isn’t ‘post-traumatic’ because this violence is a continuous cycle that takes place in their neighborhood everyday. Further, unlike military troops, these youth never receive visits from psychologists to aid them. As Lil Reese stated, “A body getting dropped everyday – this shit is real.”

A body getting dropped refers to people dying from gunshots. The sad truth is that many youth have absolutely nothing to lose within the confides of the current social system. Indeed, when you watch a Lil Reese video, in his hood you’ll see many shirts displaying “R.I.P.” to the names of various friends and “Free”  to the names of various people locked away. Living in such violent social conditions has a profound impact on the psychology of black youth, this is precisely why after Lil JOJO was shot, Chief Keef responded by saying,“HahahahahhahahahahahahahaahhAAHAHAHAHA” #RichNiggaShit “Its Sad Cuz Dat Nigga Jojo Wanted To Be Jus Like Us #LMAO.”

    The Root Cause of Lil Reese’s Violent Lyrics

Both Chief Keef and Lil Reese grew up in Englewood. They would probably be surprised to hear that their now impoverished and violent community was once predominately white and affluent. Moreover, in addition to being mostly white, it was once a stronghold for the Ku Klux Klan. As America began to integrate and African-Americans entered deep into the Chicago areas—this once predominately white area began organizing violently against the African-American communities. They then formed a neighborhood associations with slogans like: “America for whites, Africa The Only Place for Niggers.”  They then went on to say “We don’t want them, we don’t want to live with them. I think they’re savages.” While these whites portrayed African-Americans as savages, all the behavior that whites partook in to defend against integration were of that very nature. After a rumor that a house in Englewood was going to be purchased by a black family, whites began to carry out bombings, physical assaults, and arson on black residents for simply trying to live their lives. After putting up posters saying “NEGROES INVADING” a bunch of white racists came together starting the “EngleWood Race Riots of 1949”. As African-Americans continued to move in, “a white plight” took place as whites moved to suburban areas, leaving the black community in absolute turmoil, chaos, and social decay[8].

Now, I’ve constantly heard the argument that goes something like this: “Lil Reese was born in 1993, those riots took place in 1949.” As if it had no effect on him.  White people had the benefit of passing wealth to their children who could then pass it on to their children; they also had the luxury of a stable home and other infrastructure. As a result of these race riots, blacks who were affected   were not given the same opportunities nor has the racist system that has been designed to disenfranchise blacks from employment been abolished. These riots and systemic obstacles left the black community in absolute economic turmoil. The poverty that resulted from it allowed the illegal economy to takeover as the number one employer for black youth. Similarly, when peaceful African-Americans first moved to Englewood, a racist of the white, anti-intergrationist stated that” I think they[Blacks] are savages.” Now, over 30 years later Lil Reese embraces this image, stating that “I lost so many niggas, turned into a savage.” Why  else would Lil JOJO, Chief Keef, and Lil Reese all have lyrics basically equating to “gonna get these guns, and I’mma kill these niggas”? The lyrics resemble the rhetoric of white racists of the past. This is all a result of blacks internalizing hatred and racial stereotypes of the society they live in.

1)http://www.plp.org/challenge/2009/11/13/derrion-albert-is-not-racist-capitalisms-first-or-last-victi.html, Derrion Albert Is Not Racist Capitalism’s First or Last Victim

2) 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

3)Working Party on Environmental Performance,  http://www.oecd.org/environment/country-reviews/33848718.pdf#page=27

4) http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-affirmative-action, 11 Facts About Affirmative Action

5) Chief Keef and Lil Joj0 http://www.suntimes.com/news/crime/15007423-418/chief-keef-and-lil-jojo-a-rap-feud-straight-outta-englewood.html

6)http://www.sohh.com/2013/01/i_aint_dissing_chief_keef_im_dissing_jim.html,  “I Ain’t Dissing Chief Keef, I’m Dissing Jimmy Iovine”

7)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/

8)Black Literature of Revolutionary Protest from Chicago’s South Side: A Local …

By Michelle Yvonne Gordon,http://books.google.com/books?id=nMwuX6wKz40C&pg=PA199&dq=chicago+englewood&hl=en&sa=X&ei=nqgOUdXxDoH89QTAgIHwCQ&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBDgK#v=onepage&q=chicago%20englewood&f=false

Chiraq: An American Colony

The vast disparities between the First World, which has vast wealth and technology, and the Third World, suffering from wretched poverty and poorblackmanunderdevelopment, is a product of the years of European colonization, exploitation, and genocide that built the current international order. The capitalist economic system is based upon the accumulation of capital; the gluttonous desire for more capital subsequently led to European nations invading other territories, gaining hegemonic control over their resources, establishing joint-stock companies, and utilizing the resources and wealth of other people for the exclusive economic benefit of Europeans.



cecilrhodes3The spiritually deficient materialistic nature of the capitalist economic system results in Europeans perpetually chasing “worldly gain,” which is characterized by endlessly chasing after material items. The current international order that runs on the dominance of the capitalist economic system continuously results in more and more wealth being hoarded by a tiny, rich and white elite. As a result, 2.7 billion people live on less than two dollars per day – which is not enough for basic needs. In 2011 alone, three million children died due to lack of access to food. There is an abundance of food in the world – enough to feed every human being on the planet – but the problem is in the distribution, The global system promotes deprivation and exploitation of the non-white Third World and hoarding by the white, western First World.



iraq32Iraq is among the most recent victims of American Imperialism. After George W. Bush claimed the nation had “weapons of mass destruction,” Iraq was invaded; 1.3 million innocent Iraqis were killed, but Shell, Exxon Mobil, Total, and Chevron profited greatly from oil resources that they lost access to after Saddam Hussein nationalized the commodity. The American invasion effectively turned Iraq into a colony that served U.S. interests. Much of U.S. foreign policy, far from being about National Defense, is actually driven by the need to secure strategic resources that are key to the success of their economies. Globalization is the continuation of Imperialism of the past. It’s based upon accumulating the world’s wealth for the benefits of Europeans, and this global capitalist system was kick-started by the enslavement of blacks. As a result, the tactics, techniques, and strategies the U.S. government uses to oppress foreign populations are first strategized,  practiced, and perfected at home against the internally colonized black community.


Within American inner-cities, blacks are colonized. The seemingly innocuous idiom ‘Chiraq’ used by black Chicagoans to refer their moneyforwar43communities is a linguistic combination of “Chicago” and “Iraq”; it demonstrates the colonized Third World status of blacks in America, showing the conditions of their communities have more in common with Iraq than mainstream America. The “Weapons of Mass Destruction” utilized to justify the invasion of Iraq were never found. If George W. Bush truly wanted to locate and destroy nuclear weapons, perhaps he should have looked at the National Laboratory and Boeing Corporations in Chicago (distinct from Chiraq), which are two leading companies that manufacture weapons such as the B-2 Stealth Bomber and F-16, both of which were utilized in the war on Iraq. Chicago contributed 2.5 billion to the Iraqi War; money that could have be utilized to revitalize the ghetto, provide social services, and employment opportunities was instead utilized to decimate the Iraqi people. An old saying by the organic intellectual Tupac Shakur rings true: ”They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor.”


During the Iraq War, the Abu Ghraib Torture and Prison Abuse scandal took place when Iraqi prisoners of war were forcibly stacked upon eachjonburge other as animals, urinated upon by prison guards, sodomized, raped, dragged by their penises with ropes, had phosphoric acid poured upon them, and had fierce dogs attack them. This was often portrayed as an isolated incident, not representative of America, but these simply are torture techniques pioneered from the prison chambers of the colonized Chiraq; in a series of incidents, a Chicago Police Detective Jon Burge suffocated routinely suffocated black prisoners, used electric shock upon a prisoner’s genitals, held guns to prisoners’ heads, and burning them with radiators in an effort to get colonized black youth to confess to crimes they did not commit.



According to George W. Bush, the Americans brought the Iraqi people freedom and democracy. The existence of Iraqi politicians are held up assaudioil poor of Iraqi self-determination, despite George W. Bush effectively turning Iraq into a U.S colony, enabling western corporate control over oil. Similarly,  in the Post-Civil Rights era, the rise of black politicians is often held up as proof of black progress. However, even these black politicians are puppets in a neo-colonial situation. For Lil Bibby, the aldermen in his neighborhood was Sandi Jackson, yet the drug economy remained the dominant industry in the black community; Sandi Jackson used campaign money to decorate her home with lavish goods, and falsified tax returns for more wealth. In this way, the rise of black politicians in Chicago far from being evidence of black progress; it is actually a colonial tactic similar to the way the U.S. operates in foreign counties by throwing legitimate leaders, such as Patrice Lumumba, and replacing them with notoriously corrupt leaders, like Mobutu, who bought lavish material goods and allowed western corporate exploitation of Congo, all while his people starved.

The stores, businesses, and other enterprises in the black community are owned by foreigners who then take the wealth outside of the community, resulting in dilapidated and slum like conditions. For unemployed black youth, the dominant industry is the drug economy; the colonized youth Lil Bibby states:

“Remember back when I ain’t used to have a quarter? I started posting on blocks like ‘Place ya order.’ Now I’m riding in Coupes and I’m flipping Porches. All from spitting these bars to a couple courses. I been locked up, shot at and damn near died back when I was 16.”

bibby34Fundamentally, these colonized communities seek to set up political, economic, and social orders where repressed blacks are often lured into a life of crime that then makes them a object of the prison industrial complex. Thus, the name ‘Chiraq’ reveals the neo-colonial status of America, an area utilized by white elites to maintain a steady supply of cheap labor to fuel the prison industrial complex, despite the existence of black politicians all of which makes the presence of black politicians as nothing more than a tactic in the continuous colonial oppression of blacks.



Though blacks now live in an era in which overt legal racism has ended and public appearances of racism are largely condemned, racial justice in the “Post-Civil Rights” era is illusory, as the state has taken on other efforts to maintain the white over black hierarchy through the discriminatory ‘war on drugs’ launched against blacks, the ever-expanding prison industry which re-enslaved blacks, and by the fundamental reality that anti-blackness has been so solidified in society that it was able to maintain itself despite the removal of overt discriminatory legislation. While the tactics utilized to maintain black oppression has changed over time, the anti-black reality of all American social institutions has not.





Sources Use:


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





The Making of Chiraq

herb43The name Chiraq, which is frequently employed the black Chicagoans, has attracted much criticism, with 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. “Chiraq” is just one of many of these ghettos; the same lifestyle can be found in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and other urban communities. In Lil Bibby’s pivotal track entitled “Raised Up,”  he asserts, ”We some savages, that’s what the hood made us.” Lil Bibby and Lil Herb describe the dominant mode of life in inner-city ghettoes, which is one of pure survival where youth must  bear the brunt of a chaotic environment that consists of coping  with the stress that comes with living in and out of jail, violently protecting ones stake in the drug market, and dealing with potentially lethal run-ins with law enforcement.

In the public’s imagination, these ghettoes are home to black welfare queens who are leeches on the economic system, as well as a remberinghadiya“black criminal deviant underclass” who carry out horrific acts of violence in the form of drive-by-shootings, car jackings, and burglaries. 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 Violence that Created the Violence

chicagogreatmigrationThe ghetto and all of the sporadic anti-social behavior, which is a product of perpetual violence (both physical and institutional), continues to create the social conditions needed for gang conflicts. In 1870, after legal plantation slavery was abolished, 80% of black Americans resided in the rural south; these families were forced to endure an oppressive sharecropping system which had largely replaced slavery. They were marred in poverty with a lack of education while having to cope with a series of repressive black code laws which were the precursor to Jim Crow. During the great migration, African-Americans began moving to Chicago in search of better opportunities, but would instead be met with violence.


The White Circle League, formed with the mission of “keeping white neighborhoods free from negroes,” regularly terrorized Africanchicagoraceriots-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.


cjocagpb;aclbe;tThe 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 African-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 Failure of Civil Rights

tenants A week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Richard J. Daley, who was part of an Irish Club which routinely terrorized blacks, would become the Mayor, and his racism would be backed with institutional support. Daley ordered his police force and U.S. army troops to cripple and maim outraged black citizens. Nonetheless, African-Americans won some concessions; the Fair Housing Act was passed, allegedly attempting to address housing discrimination.Under the Fair Housing Act, African-Americans could sue if they were subjected to housing discrimination. However, such legislation did nothing on a practical level to restructure American society. Indeed, think about the capitol, time, and effort that the average African-American single parent would have to expend to pursue such a case in ‘job discrimination’ or ‘housing discrimination,’ all while struggling with what comes from living in the ghetto.


While the “No Niggers” signs and overt visible signs of racism declined, the act could do nothing to change the everyday racially discriminatory practices of realtors and city planners who would routinely blackhousign4operate along radicalized lines. Douglas S. Massey points out that realtors had unspoken assumptions in their clients’ interest which kept “unwanted” elements (blacks) out of affluent neighborhoods, fearing the professional repercussions from their clientele. This confirms that, despite legislative changes ending overt signs of racism, such legislation would have no effect in transforming the cultural attitudes and daily practices of institutions of city planning and realtors who would continue to operate along racist lines; in summation, relators were found to, and have continued to, keep African-Americans away from white neighborhoods despite the passing of the Fair Housing Act. The sociologist Douglas S. Massey concluded, “Since the passing of the Fair Housing Act, the level of black-white segregation has hardly changed.”

In fact, according to the current trend, blacks in Chicago will still compromise a segregated group as far into the future as 2042. Douglas Massey, states, ”Ironically, within a large, diverse, and highly mobile post-industrial society such as the United States, blacks living in the heart of the ghetto are among the most isolated people on earth.” Born witlilreesehout a silver spoon, in the ghetto, the typical lifestyle of a resident consists of languishing in run down areas, being pressured to hustle on the streets, carrying out “hits” to protect their block as a result of the lethal underground drug economy, all resulting in a continuous cycle of going in and out of jail; many individuals born in these areas know they may  face an early death, and they do not expect to live past eighteen.



The segregated status of black Americans, which separates them from white America, protects white Americans from the social violenceLeondore Draperproblems, drugs, gang wars, and violence, which are a result of an unjust social order. Meanwhile, innocent  African-American women, such as Chicago Public School Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot down by stray bullets on her way home from school, and Leondore Draper, who was shot coming back home from an anti-violence  campaign that she helped to organize, bear the brunt of a racially segregated society. 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.



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



The Third World Inside of America

In the nineties, the inner-cities of America were seeking to recover from the devastating crack epidemic and the  “War on Drugs” waged by the Reagan Administration against the black community. The U.S government had no real effort to improve the educational opportunities, employment or  other chances for social mobility for the black communities Drugs would be funelled into these impoverished communities that were suffering from  the poverty that is inevitable for black ghettos  under U.S Capitalism.  Due to the nature of the capitalist system, many manufacturing jobs in the inner-city would be shipped overseas, eliminating the only source of employment for many hard-working African-American families. John M. Hagedorn writes: “The conditions in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods came to resemble impoverished Third World countries, and police harassment was ever-present.” In 1996, Nas released his sophomore album ‘It Was Written.’ In it, he vividly describes a common occurrence in the ghettos; he spits, ”Niggas shoot in broad day light. With the broke mac-10 that don’t spray right. Niggas don’t give a fuc* who they hit, as long as the drama’s lit.”

When the drug economy took over, many youth hustled to make a living, going in and out of jail. The nineties in Chicago was a period in which Yummy Sandifier, a child born into this very lifestyle, was making his moves; while most kids during this time period were trading Pokemon cards, Yummy was trading drugs for profit, committing burglaries and breaking into houses. When Yummy sought to shoot down a rival gangbanger, he shot into a crowd missing his target entirely, and unfortunately he ended up killing a school girl instead. This prompted a widespread police insurgency for young Yummy. Fearful that if Yummy was captured he would tell gang secrets, the child was subsequently executed by fellow gang members at the age of only eleven years old.    The same violence and poverty was the dominant lifestyle in many other inner-cities, including New Orleans, Baltimore, Compton, L.A., Queensbridge, Philadelphia, Detroit, Memphis as well as others. The ghettoes of America are not impoverished due to a lack of morals, work ethic, or ‘business’ savvy among the population; rather, they are internal colonies which are deliberately and intentionally kept in miserable social conditions by its mother country, America. The U.S. maintains neo-colonies in the Middle East and domestic internal colonies within its borders for access to cheap labor via the prison-industrial complex.

During the Cold War, America was competing ideologically with the Soviet Union over their economic systems of capitalism and communism. As a result of this period, dubbed the “Red Scare,” many corrupt leaders were installed by the United States in countries seeking their independence. Patrice Lumumba was a Pan-Africanist seeking to uplift the colonized people of his country after years of oppression and tyranny from the Belgians. He was dedicated to his people in every way, but fearful that Lumumba might be a communist, he was quickly assassinated by rival forces with full support from the C.I.A. In place, the U.S. selected candidate Mobutu Sese Seko quickly created an authoritarian regime in which he squandered his people’s wealth on personal lavish luxuries while the people of his country continued to starve and had their wealth plundered by American corporations

Similarly, the same situation has regularly occurred for numerous leaders within the black community. Fred Hampton, a Black Panther of Chicago, provided political education classes for youth along with free-breakfast programs. He even worked to forge an alliance between various gangs in Chicago to mitigate the violence. Hampton emerged as a real leader in the black community – and the FBI, CIA and government in general took note of him. A secret government project called COINTELPRO explicitly sought to prevent and quell various radical black movements. In conjunction with the Chicago Police department, the CIA and FBI orchestrated a raid and, during which, assassinated 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.” It was leaders such as Fred Hampton that worked to combat gang violence. One author notes:

“Of course, there’s also the legacy that, without a young leader, I think the West Side of Chicago degenerated a lot into drugs. And without leaders like Fred Hampton, I think the gangs and the drugs became much more prevalent on the West Side. He was an alternative to that. He talked about serving the community, talked about breakfast programs, educating the people, community control of police. So I think that that’s unfortunately another legacy of Fred’s murder.”

Fred Hampton’s murder left a power vacuum and, like in the colonies abroad, the Chicago government would install various corrupt puppet leaders. This relationship between internal colonies and the non-representative government officials is a theme discussed in Nas’ “I Want to Talk to You.”: “As a young black man from the ghetto,” Nas indigently raps, ”Fake black leaders of puppets always talking ‘bout the city budget.” Inner cities are notorious for corrupt and non-representative leadership, one example being Jesse Jackson Jr. who squandered the wealth of the Chicago people (as well as Sandi Jackson). These people are supported by the larger white establishment and should be viewed as puppet leaders within the black community. Nas continues:

“I’m just a black man why y’all made it so hard damn

Niggas gotta go create his own job

Mr. Mayor imagine if this was your backyard

Mr. Governor imagine if it was your kids that starved

Imagine your kids gotta sling crack to survive

Swing a mack to be live cart ack to get high”

The job that Nas discusses creating is, of course, the lucrative career as a drug pusher. Like impoverished third world countries, ghettos achicagochildsoldiersre essentially a war torn area with starving kids. Like the child soldiers in Uganda, the ghetto has its own child soldiers who swing macks and sell cracks. Like the independence movements of the ‘60s, many nations such as Ghana and the Congo were yearning for their independence to make it out of this exploitative relationship in which it’s population was decimated, impoverished and hungry. In the song “Every Ghetto,” rappers Naz and Blitz further elucidate:“Still I’m sayin’ why do we reside. In the ghetto with a million ways to die. What the fuck will tomorrow bring?”

Like foreign third world countries, the ghettoes in America are without stability. “Jay-Z, who said he “was born the day Fred Hampton died,” comments on the sentiments of wanting to escape his internal colony and the desperation he faces:
“Some how some way I gotta make it up out the hood someday. Some how some way I gotta make it up out this life. Some way I gotta make it up out this hood someday”

 Barack Obama was elected- the masses were disgusted by George W. Bush who presided over the mass extermination of black people under Katrina with lackluster care and numerous wars seeking imperial ambition. Thus, a shift was made to a more benevolent form of imperialism. White power presented through a black face and chants of “change” lured black people in supporting Barack Obama. Far from an real “change”, Obama’s presidency has not changed the colonized/colonizer relationship the ghetto has with its mother country.  The Government orchestrated assassination of Fred Hampton, Malcolm X, Marc Clarke, is apart of the same imperial logic as the government orchestrated assassinations of Thomas Sankara and Patrice Lumumba.   To sustain the U.S Empire, corrupt leadership is need within the internal colonies and abroad in its neo-colonies. Blacks within u.s borders are subject to search and seizure, killed in indiscriminate attacks of police brutality, subjugated from the war on drugs, and made to suffer from the prison-industrial complex. Similarly,  Obama’s presidency has contributed to drone strikes of innocents in the Middle East and imperial wars  for economic benefits.  In blacks in domestic colonies  suffering under repression  looking to “make it out the hood” and those in neo-colonies suffering under drone strikes, the street scriptures serve as a viable way to link social conditions within the internal domestic colonies and foreign neo-colonies of the American Empire and struggle for independence.


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