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Lil Reese & The white origins of Chriaq’s gang wars.

I lost so many niggas, turned into a savage.

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

Where I’m from? Chiraq……..

..300 Normal Spelled Backwards.—Lil Reese

Many people growing up in Chiraq have lost many friends and relatives from the ensuing gang wars. Lil Reese indicates that he too has been affected by this and states that this is reality, not ‘movie shit.’ He’s done this in efforts to distinguish himself from  your typical studio-gangsters who make idle threats and appear ‘thugish’ in rap videos only to go back to their fancy homes after the video shoot to a full refrigerator and comfortable couches in the suburbs.

His phrase ‘turned into a savage’ refers to the mentality that many people in his crew have developed from living in such appalling social conditions. A recent study indicates that black youth in Chiraq who are exposed to such violence develop post-traumatic stress disorders comparable to troops returning home from military combat. However, for these youth, this isn’t ‘post-traumatic’ because this violence is a continuous cycle that takes place in their neighborhood everyday. Further, unlike military troops, these youth never receive visits from psychologists to aid them. As Lil Reese stated, “A body getting dropped everyday – this shit is real.”

A body getting dropped refers to people dying from gunshots. The sad truth is that many youth have absolutely nothing to lose within the confides of the current social system. Indeed, when you watch a Lil Reese video, in his hood you’ll see many shirts displaying “R.I.P.” to the names of various friends and “Free”  to the names of various people locked away.

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

Now, I’ve constantly heard the argument that goes something like this: “Lil Reese was born in 1993, those riots took place in 1949.” As if it had no effect on him.  White people had the benefit of passing wealth to their children who could then pass it on to their children; they also had the luxury of a stable home and other infrastructure. As a result of these race riots, blacks who were affected   were not given the same opportunities nor has the racist system that has been designed to disenfranchise blacks from employment been abolished. These riots and systemic obstacles left the black community in absolute economic turmoil. The poverty that resulted from it allowed the illegal economy to takeover as the number one employer for black youth. Similarly, when peaceful African-Americans first moved to Englewood, a racist of the white, anti-intergrationist stated that” I think they[Blacks] are savages.” Now, over 30 years later Lil Reese embraces this image, stating that “I lost so many niggas, turned into a savage.”  The forces of white supremacy turns oppressed Black people into savages creating the conditions for gang warfare in black communities.

Fox News on Chicago’s Gang Violence

Yet another Chicago youth has been brutally killed in Chicago’s streets. 18 year old, Joshua “JayLoud” Davis, who was friends with Lil Jojo (another brutally slain rapper) was gunned down Christmas day. At the time of his death, he was wearing a hoodie adorning the words “Jojo World” to commemorate his deceased friend—Lil Jojo[1]  Joshua’s family believes that members of a rival gang took offense to his sweater (Jojo routinely dissed The Black Disciples) and when he got off the bus they shot him down. When it comes to black on black violence in the inner-city, everyone wants to lecture black youth about our alleged lack of values and morals. Chicago has now reached over 500 homicides in 2012. Since Chicago has a Liberal mayor (Rahm Emanuel, a man I personally dislike), right-wingers have decided to use this appalling statistic and the horrific violence in Chicago in their talking points on gun-control. Fox News did a report in the South-Side of Chicago in which they sent their reporters to interview residents. The news reporter then discussed his time in the South-Side of Chicago with notorious racist Bill O’Reilly. The following is a transcript from that interview:[2]

O’REILLY: Now what are these gangs fighting about?

WATTERS:  It’s mostly drug gangs and they are fighting over smaller and smaller scraps because the economy is bad. And white people aren’t buying as many drugs now. So the profits are down. So they’re trying to fight over turf, property and respect.

Up until this point of the dialogue I took no issue with what was presented Bill O’Reilly, Watters and Fox News then decided to give their solution to Chicago’s gang violence stating that:

“…what they need to do is ‘the surge strategy’ like Iraq…”

Listen, sending the national guard or army to attack black youth in the South-Side of Chicago won’t stop the gang-violence because it does not address the root cause of the violence which, of course, is poverty as a result of institutionalized racism. You literally have groups of kids in some areas of the South-Side of Chicago occupying abandoned houses, all sleeping on floors with no parents, with an illegal drug economy being the only way to bring in money. These kids have absolutely nothing to lose.   In another news report in which CBS interviewed South-Side Chicago gang bangers, one of them had this to say:

“The police hate us. Every time they ride past us, they shoot us down and do all that. Do what you want to do, I don’t care about you all, keep riding. Who are you all? We’re not scared of you all. I’ll fight you too.” [3]

While Fox News has a reputation for its hard-core conservative views, in this interview they let a nugget slip out about the role that racism actually plays in causing Chicago’s gang violence. The Fox News reporter stated that:

“WATTERS: It’s out of control. I was safe though. I said, ‘Should I be scared?’ And they said, ‘We don’t shoot white people; you’re our biggest customer.’

 

O’REILLY: For drugs?

 

WATTERS: Yes.

 

Bill O’Reilly and Watters then let out a chuckle. I guess they were amused by the fact that these Chicago gang bangers don’t shoot white people yet this statement proves the role that economic deprivation has in escalating these gang conflicts.

The largest gangs in Chicago are the Gangsta Disciples and Black Disciples. These two gangs used to be part of a single entity known as “The Black Gangsta Disciples”. After the arrest and imprisonment of key leaders and numerous organizers the gangs split into “The Gangsta Disciples” and the “Black Gangsta Disciples” which eventually became just the “Black Disciples.”  Homicides in South-Side Chicago were always frequent, but since the arrest of key leaders who were crucial in gang’s organization (coupled with the economic recession), the violence has increased and gangs have splintered and formed various factions. Sometimes you will have people who belong to the same gang, yet belong to different factions, who will go to war with each other over drug territory. Initially the conflicts begin as a fight for drug territory, but the problems have only deepened over time. For example, the death of Jojo, who was well-loved and popular and a friend among various members of the Gangsta Disciples, escalated the conflict between the Black Disciples and Gangsta Disciples. Gangsta Disciples sought to retaliate for his death and it led to an all-out war between the two gangs that was more than just a territorial dispute; rather, it was about retaliation.

All of these conflicts have their root in economic oppression; blacks have been systematically disempowered and have consistently lived in the most violent areas, not because we are “naturally” prone to committing crime or don’t work hard enough, 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.

Chicago’s state-sanctioned racism produces “thugs” and systematically strips the morality from people, replacing it with a stone-cold belief system and demeanor that is seen as necessary to survive on these mean streets. Those in Chicago’s hoods live in such dire poverty that some cannot abide by any types of morals (moral beliefs such as ‘stealing/shooting is wrong’) in order to survive.

The origins of this violence all began in the early twentieth century when African-Americans that previously resided in the Klan-run south came to Chicago during the great migration, lured by the promises of jobs and political rights.[4]

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 black child 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. The Chicago Police Department decided to arrest the peaceful African-American protestors. [5]

Despite this, whites then entered the predominately black area on the South-Side, terrorizing the black population through arsons and assaults. Nobody, not even children, were spared in the attacks. These white angels with exemplary morals even sought to enter a predominately black hospital to terrorize the black patients there.

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. Indeed, the white-ran Chicago housing authority from its inception worked to ensure that blacks lived in segregated neighborhoods.[6]

While blacks were portrayed as being “violent,” many times it was not the “delinquent” black youth attacking innocent peaceful white people but vice-versa. During this time blacks lived under increased threats of violence and fear from whites. Subsequently, blacks had no choice but to live in ghettos because of the terrorism inflicted by whites against those who dared to live on the outskirts of their state created locus. Around this time, as whites began to barbarically attack black neighborhoods more and more frequently, black male youth began to form groups in order to protect themselves.

They began to call themselves the “Black P Stone Rangers,” a group originally composed of impoverished black kids who protected themselves from white mob violence. Today, we know the Black P Stone Rangers as yet another gang who fights with both the Black Disciples and Gangsta Disciples over drug territory. Their origins can directly be tied to white mob violence.

Also of significant note, the black community had attempted to take numerous steps to deal with gang-violence only to have their efforts interrupted by the government which further proves the government wants to keep blacks in social decay.  Fred Hampton,  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. 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. 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 it to materialize.[7]

What we are witnessing today in the South-Side of Chicago is the aftermath of these violent attacks as well as systemic institutionalized racism cause by the capitalist system that governs us.

Today, gang violence continues to take the lives of black youth. It is absolutely ridiculous for right-wingers to use Chicago’s Gang Violence in their talking points on the failure of gun-control; a capitalist system, which right-wingers are the most vocal apologetics for,  is directly responsible for such violence in the first place.

 

1)Chicago Rapper JayLoud, Lil JoJo’s Best Friend Killed On Christmas

http://allhiphop.com/2012/12/26/chicago-rapper-jayloud-lil-jojos-best-friend-killed-on-christmas/

2)Fox’s Jesse Watters Investigates Chicago’s South Side: We Dont Shoot White People.

http://nation.foxnews.com/chicago-violence/2012/04/06/fox-s-jesse-watters-investigates-chicago-s-south-side-we-don-t-shoot-white-people

 

3) http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/09/27/killing-is-the-solution-gang-member-tells-walter-jacobson/

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

4)  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

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

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

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