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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
nnegroes
 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.

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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

 

 

On Gun Control: A Critical Look at the Southside of Chicago PT 2

Listen to the music that fills the Chicago Rap Scene. Not since the ‘Gangsta Rap’ era of N.W.A have we heard music so violent. A quick youtube search for “Chiraq Music” yields numerous amateur rappers affiliated with rival gangs taunting each other. They trade lyrical disses while wielding automatic weapons more suited to the deadly combat zones of Iraq. Money, power, desires for respect fuel the numerous gangs of Chicago to battle, steadily pushing the homicide rate ever higher. What is Rahm Emanuel’s plan to confront this violence?

While republicans nonsensically blame “a lack of morals” as a cause for this violence, the so-called progressive Democrats like Rahm Emanuel  are too busy pushing for tougher Gun Control Laws and Police Occupation of Black neighborhoods. But can increased Police Occupation and tougher gun control laws of Black Communities in Chicago really address the violence?

“BrickSquad! The police can’t control us!”, chants Lil Jojo proudly in one of his songs. In another he threatens the police, stating that the Cops are “Gonna Catch the whole 30.”

Chief Keef, another Chicago rapper also voices his disagreement with the increased police occupation of black neighborhoods. In his track, “Aimed At You’, (referring to his guns of course) he talks about his daily adventures and criminal pursuits in the streets of Chicago. He seems to laugh at the idea of police stopping him when he boldly states, “You Call the Cops? You gonna get a Cop dropped.”

Even as the Democrats push for tougher Gun-Control Laws, Black Gang Youth are out in the streets breaking the per-existing laws. Lil Mister describes in his track, ‘No Lackin”, what it takes for Chicago gang youth to survive in the streets, the constant vigilance required to avoid tragedy. He warns to “Keep them eyes open ain’t no slacking homie” and follows it up with “We do this shit for real, you a actor homie”, clearly a jab at studio gangsters who don’t live what they rap about. He brags about his ability to shoot when he boasts that if “That chopper hit your ass you’ll do a backflip homie. Nigga say they drilling they need practice homie.”

A while back, a video surfaced of Lil Reese physically abusing a young woman. After outraged ensued Lil Reese felt that these critics were just ‘ hatin cause im getting money’.  He has recently been arrested on an unrelated charge for mob action and battery. In Lil Reese’s song, “Us”, he shares his sentiment on on the police, “Fuck a opp we send shots nigga. Bullets coming non-stop nigga.”The Chicago Police Department (colloquially the “opps” don’t seem to deter Chicago Gang Youth in the slightest, nor the Gun Control laws which consume the attention of the Democrats.

The reality is, lack of gun control legislation or police in neighborhoods are not to blame for Chicago’s drastic levels of gang violence. Instead, this can be attributed to the legacy of Jim Crow: institutionalized racism, disenfranchisement and poverty resulting from an unjust social system When you look past all the macho-posturing in the rap videos of the Chicago youth, you’ll see people who are profoundly oppressed and disenfranchised. As Lil Reese raps,”On my block, if we ain’t got it then we gotta take it.” What exactly don’t these black youth have? Basic necessities including life, food, clothing and shelter. Thus, in order to obtain the rights that they are entitled to, they are forced to enter an underground drug economy to afford food, clothing and shelter.

In Lil Reese’s “Rob Who” he states, “I gotta get this money man, there’s nothing else… Im going hard, stomachache, bitch I need a meal. Think I’m playing?The whole Lam gotta eat for real…. A body getting droped everyday this shit is real.”

“Lam” refers to the Lamron Faction of the Black Disciples whom have been lured into an underground drug economy due to impoverished economic conditions imposed on their neighborhood. In Englewood, these heavily impoverished households are mostly headed by single parent females. As they struggle to provide for their families, kids are forced to find a way to bring in quick money.

By joining a gang, these youths obtain access to money via the drug economy. As the children of broken families and fatherless homes, youths come together into various functional organizations as a surrogate to the nuclear family and as a way for oppressed youth to form bonds –which helps them cope with such a hard life.

This is why Chief Keef and Lil Reese open up their tracks with “L’S Up” or “300” which is a reference to these Lamron 300 Faction of the Black Disciples.This is why Lil Jojo and Lil Minster often begin their tracks with “Bricksquad” and “Insane”: both factions of the Gangsta Disciples.

As youths get accustomed to the trials of the drug market—having a gang infringe or take over your territory where you sell drugs, which is the only source of income for youth — competition becomes a matter of starving or eating, of life or death. Thus it’s carried out not through marketing campaigns to neighborhood friends but through the barrel of the gun.

Even when gangs assume hegemony over a drug corner, many of the conflicts becomes retaliatory with gang members wanting to avenge the deaths of fallen friends. This violence and conflict is the result of years of oppression and disenfranchisement, and the introduction of ‘gun control laws’ will not severely impact upon this. These issues must be attacked at the roots, for as long as oppression exists, youths will rebel against the laws that bar them from access to food, clothing, and shelter.

Who killed Derrion Albert?


White Liberals posture as though they are allies of African-Americans. These pseudo progressives pretend that they care for the poor, disadvantaged minority communities. They don’t. White Liberals are as much to blame for white supremacy as Republican conservatives. Rahm Emanuel, Patt Quinn and Arne Duncan are Chicago’s resident white Liberals. Rahm Emanuel is totally incompetent when it comes to helping eliminate (or at least lessen) violence stemming from poverty caused by oppression; in the face of multiple deaths resulting from Chicago’s gang wars, Mayor Rahm Emanuel got on television and put on his ‘stern voice’ telling gang-members to stop it[1]. He offered no program or policy for economic empowerment, employment opportunities or anything addressing the root cause of why gangs exists in the first place. Another clueless white Liberal is Patt Quinn who honestly believes his legislation that allows for gang members to be sentenced in jail longer than other, will curb the violence.[2] And then there is Arne Duncan, head of C.P.S. schools.

I was born in New Orleans but moved to Chicago when I was twelve. I went to a grammar school in a neighborhood nicknamed ‘The Wild One Hundreds,” a nickname that is a reference to the mentality that people have on that block—it is this area of Chicago that is an intersection of some of Chicago’s most ruthless gangs. When I first transferred schools, I remember people always asking me, “Nigga, what you is?” I had no idea what they were asking but I soon would learn they were asking what gang I was affiliated with/belonged to.  The neighborhood high-school  was called ‘Fenger High-School.’

My teachers would often have entire lessons about why us students don’t want to go to Fenger High-School.  Those responsible for educating students said themselves that many people who attended Fenger end up incarcerated, dead, and that the school was practically a warzone. The very teachers employed by the school administration admitted that the school had to spend so much time ensuring that we were safe that the quality of the education we would receive would be extremely lackluster.

The teachers told us that we should strive to attend a selective enrollment school such as Walter Payton, Whitney Young, Lane Tech, or King College Prep. These schools had resources, quality staff, adequate funding, and were all safe.

Selective enrollment schools are something racist Liberals came up with. After segregation was outlawed, white people conveniently came up with the idea of ‘selective enrollment schools. Entry into selective enrollment programs are based upon grades, attendance, and a standardized test that measures aptitude in English, Mathematics, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension.

It was illegal for blacks to even read or write for a huge-chunk of their time spent in this country. At one time, for opening up a book a black person could have their limbs amputated. After slavery, Jim Crow laws explicitly denied blacks educational opportunities equal to whites.chicago-ghetto

It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that blacks wouldn’t perform as well on these standardized tests as whites. Thus, despite the fact that blacks consists of the majority of Chicago Public School population, selective enrollment schools are majority white while neighborhood schools are majority black.  Selective enrollment tests are simply a way to maintain segregation in public schools with whites receiving quality education in quality buildings and blacks receiving lackluster education in lackluster buildings bearing the brunt of impoverished social conditions rooted in capitalism.

Thus my teachers emphasized the fact that we needed to go to a selective enrollment school in order to secure a future; we had an entire class dedicated to stressing this point.

Before Obama  became the black face of white imperialism, he used to do community organizing in my neighborhood. Indeed, as a community organizer he often gave speeches to the 8th graders graduating at my school.  Him and his then pastor (before Obama sold him out) Jeremiah Wright gave very motivational speeches. Jeremiah Wright spoke the truth about racism in this society which is why Obama had to distance himself from his pastor. Jeremiah Wright was heavily involved in my community, and despite being Muslim I would often times go to his church to hear his sermons with Christian members of my family who were members because this man spoke the truth!

The wife of the then senator Obama, Michelle Obama, attended Whitney Young Magnet school, another selective enrollment school. Jeremiah Wright would often speak to students of my school about the prison industrial complex and how whites were funding the prison industry better than our neighborhood. The pressure was on to do well on these selective enrollment tests.

Fortunately for me, I managed to do well on the selective enrollment tests and got accepted into some selective enrollment schools. Only a few people from my Middle School managed to get into these elitist selective enrollment schools.

My freshmen year of high school while I was away from my peers at this selective enrollment school, the entire south-side of Chicago came to a standstill.  I was on the bus coming home from school when I heard the news. A kid at ‘Fenger High-School’ had been killed; my neighborhood school, the same school that I might have attended had I not done well on my selective enrollment test.  They said after school he had been hit with a two by four when he was walking home.

Everyone in the hood was gossiping as to what happened; I went to the library to research the issue and found it had received national headlines.  A lady captured a video of the entire incident with her cell phone and placed it on youtube—something that helped investigators find the perpetrators.  According to the mainstream media, a bunch of hoodlums and gang bangers were outside  fighting after school and Derrion Albert, an innocent kid, got caught up in the mix and was killed.

Everyone, from Yahoo News, CNN, Fox, and ABC all told only half of the story. The other half of the story is that school superintendent, the resident Liberal ‘do gooder’ Arne Duncan, is directly responsible for the  death of Derrion Albert! In the face of schools declining in test scores and the associated social problems, Arne Duncan came up with a program known as “Renaissance” that was supposed to be a solution to these problems[3].

It involved school redistricting and the creation of charter schools. Before Renaissance, overall, different gangs attended different schools. Since gangs mainly belonged to a single neighborhood they would all attend that same neighborhood school.  However, Arne Duncan’s school redistricting program changed what neighborhood school the kids in the Southside of Chicago would attend.

Chicago’s Street Gangs are involved in drug trafficking as a direct result of the impoverished conditions enforced upon them by the decadent capitalist system not ‘a lack of values’, lack of hard work, or anything else conservatives would like you to believe. These gangs battle with one another to protect territory and often times the conflicts are retaliatory with gang-members seeking to avenge the death of fallen comrades.  His policy of school redistricting literally sent black students on a lethal voyage to school every morning [4].    jojoripe

Calumet High-School was comprised of members of the Black P. Stones while Englewood High-School was home to “Gangsta Disciples” and other gangs belonging to the Folk nation. Renaissance 2010 closed down these schools due to their poor academic performance and had plans to send their students to “Fenger” high-school, which was a “turnaround” school with brand new staff and teachers.[5] Imagine being in the same classroom with rival gang members who shot down some of your closest friends in vicious street wars. After Renaissance 2010, schools turned into war-zones between different gangs that battled it out in and outside of schools

The progressive labor party writes that:

While running CPS, Duncan closed dozens of public schools… and sent thousands of students outside of their poverty/gang-infested neighborhoods into new unfamiliar poverty gang infested neighborhoods. Before Renassiance 2010, the intolerable number of CPS students shot in these neighborhoods was 15… now it’s risen to over 40 fatalities and 290 shootings. These resemble numbers from Iraq and Afghanistan.”  [6]

It is this policy in particular that allowed for rival gang-members to all occupy Fenger High-School which eventually led to the death of Derrion Albert, an innocent bystander.  Prior, to the implementation of Renassiance 2010, members of the affected communities warned Arne Duncan that it would cause rival gang-members to cross paths and attend the same school. [7]  Of course, Arne Duncan who sends his kids to the elitist private school, University of Chicago Laboratory, and isn’t a member of the community, didn’t care who his policy would affect.  After all, how would he know it would happen?  This incompetent white Liberal refused to listen. The death of Derrion Albert is on the hands of Arne Duncan. Despite being a totally incompetent white Liberal, President Obama decided to recruit this man to be his ‘Sectary of Education’.

 Sources

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juEYuIqXVFk, Rahm Emanuel on Chicago gangs.

2) Governor Quinn signs RICO-style legislation to fight Chicago street gang crime, http://www.examiner.com/article/governor-quinn-signs-rico-style-legislation-to-fight-chicago-street-gang-crime

3)American Apartheid: Chicago school officials announce that 42 segregated all-black elementary schools could have been put into ‘turnaround’ this year, but only five were targeted

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=631

4) ) Derrion Albert Is Not Racist Capitalism’s First or Last Victim

http://www.plp.org/challenge/2009/11/13/derrion-albert-is-not-racist-capitalisms-first-or-last-victi.html

5)American Apartheid: Chicago school officials announce that 42 segregated all-black elementary schools could have been put into ‘turnaround’ this year, but only five were targeted

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=631

6)Derrion Albert Is Not Racist Capitalism’s First or Last Victim

http://www.plp.org/challenge/2009/11/13/derrion-albert-is-not-racist-capitalisms-first-or-last-victi.html

7) American Apartheid: Chicago school officials announce that 42 segregated all-black elementary schools could have been put into ‘turnaround’ this year, but only five were targeted

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=631