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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.

 

How racism created Chicago Gangs

chicago-ghetto 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 mob groups. 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.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.

Hundreds of African Americans, including women and children, were left homeless on the streets after fires demolished their homes in these Chicago_Violence_Funeral-0e431-3658senseless 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. 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.”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.

violencechicagoEven 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. 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.

Black street gangs do not come out of the sky. Their origins are undeniably rooted in state imposed substandard social conditions. Gangs resultchicago4343 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.  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.   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.” 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.

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.  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 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 for it to materialize. Today, gang violence continues to take the lives of black youth.

 

. Chicago’s state-sanctioned racism produces “thugs” and systematically strips the morality from people and replaces it with a stone cold heart The Third World Inside of America: A Critical Look at the Southside of Chicago PT 1that 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.

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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.

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

kill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy

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

 

 

Malcolm X To Lupe: Speaking Truth to Power

Malcolm X to Lupe, Islam & the U.S. Empire

Malcolm Little was born in the belly of the beast – a white supremacist American society. He was disenfranchised and exploited, and was living in an internal colony. His father was killed by the Ku Klux Klan, and subsequently his mother was placed in an asylum home for the mentally ill. Though he received better grades than his white peers in school, when he told the school staff he wanted to be a lawyer, his white teacher scoffed at him and told him that as a negro he would be better off working with his hands. Eventually, Malcolm Little would earn the nickname Detroit Red as he involved himself in gambling, robbery, prostitution and other vices, and he soon became a victim of the prison-industrial complex. While in prison, Detroit Red became Malcolm X, converting to Islam and he began devoting himself to knowledge by studying U.S. history, philosophy, and even memorizing the dictionary. Malcolm X came out of prison an incredibly learned man and became a vocal advocate for oppressed black people in the United States. Malcolm X was assassinated, but his legacy has influenced African-American culture greatly.

 

The hip-hop artist Nas once stated, ”Rap became a version of Malcolm ” Hip-hop is an art form which emerged in the ghetto and gave disenfranchised youth a voice to express their politics and their beliefs  or ‘speak truth to power’- something they were denied in mainstream American society. Thus, hip-hop was an extension of the tradition of black political defiance of Malcolm X. As Malcolm X was getting out of jail, another influential thinker visited America. Sayyid Qutb visited the U.S. and critiqued American society for its materialism and what he essentially saw as a hedonist lifestyle lived by members of the west. Qutb would eventually become the leader of the still influential organization in Egypt: the Muslim Brotherhood. What’s often ignored is the anti-blackness which exists Sayyid Qutb’s critique of American culture. He would write:
The American is primitive in his artistic taste, both in what he enjoys as art and in his own artistic works. “Jazz” music is his music of choice. This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other.

Sayyid Qutb, one of the most influential Islamic thinkers, believed that jazz was invited by negroes due to their primitiveness and beast-like nature. To hip-hop artist Nas, whose father is an African-American Muslim jazz musician, jazz music was a part of a black oratory tradition for political expression for those who were given no voice. He states, ”Bridging the gap from the blues, to jazz, to rap. The history of music on this track.”  Muslims in the Middle East have been utterly silent on the anti-blackness in their societies, such as the frequent occurrence of calling of blacks abeed (meaning slave) at Hajj, as well as the anti-black prejudice among one of the most influential “Islamist” thinkers, Sayyid Qutb. These individuals will evoke Bilal and Malcolm X’s letter after going to Hajj to selectively to demonstrate how racially inclusive Islam is, while being silent on the racial injustices in their societies today.  Dabashai Notes:

Islam for Malcolm X was an equally combative occasion, but as an infinitely more liberating, progressive, alive, and living organism. In more than 200 years of encounter with colonial modernity, and literary hundreds of radical Muslim thinkers, no Muslim revolutionary comes even close to Malcolm X in the liberating, global, and visionary grasp of his faith and its place in facing the barefaced barbarity of economic and military world domination…. If Islam does not have anything to say or to offer to these disenfranchised communities…   without asking them to convert to Islam, then it is nothing but the fatuous  faith of the Khaliji, Kuwaiti, and Saudi sheikhs having difficulty bending their overfed bellies when pretending to prostrate to pray, or else the rambling gibberish of Osama bin Laden and Mulla Omar when replicating the American neocons in their advocacy of terror. There is another Islam unknown to those crooked bodies… the Islam of Malcolm X.”

In the  tradition of Malcolm X and an anti-racist and anti-imperialist tradition that has emerged in the African-American tradition. Lupe Fiasco, whose real name is Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, was s a rapper who grew up in Chicago and has arguably been the most politically vocal artists since Tupac Shakur. The son of a Black Panther, his lyrics blend together critiques of U.S. state racism, American foreign policy, and Muslim extremism. Lupe writes, ”I grew up in the hood around prostitutes, drug dealers, killers, and gangbangers, but I also grew up juxtaposed. On the doorknob outside of our apartment, there was blood from some guy who got shot; but inside, there was National Geographic magazines and encyclopedias and a little library bookshelf situation. And we didn’t have cable, so we didn’t have the luxury of having our brains washed by MTV.” Lupe Fiasco states he was influenced to rap after listening to Nas’ “It Was Written,” who was also  influenced by  Malcolm X .

“G’s up along with Muhammad and Jesus
In the Quran they call him Isa
Don’t think Osama and sadaam are is our leader.”

This makes it clear that, as a Muslim, Osama is not his leader. In another song, Lupe states, “Jihad is not holy war. Where’s that in the worship? Murdering is not Islam! And you are not observant. And you are not a Muslim.” This is a message to all extremist vigilante groups who misuse Islam to carry out violent attacks against innocent lives. Yet, Lupe does not stop there – his lyrics also condemn U.S. foreign policy and the military industrial complex, stating, ”I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullsh*t. Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets.”  Lupe Fiasco then argues that:

 

“Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say sh*t
That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either
I’ma part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful”

Lupe Fiasco criticizes right-wring television cast while also condemning Obama for allowing Muslims in lupefiascioPalestine to be bombed. Interestingly enough, Lupe Fiasco condemns Osama for not being “observant,” and the reality is that Muslim vigilante groups are not fundamental to Islamic text – rather, they are reformists who break Islam’s clear prohibitions to justify war tactics that Islam finds despicable.  Through Lupe Fiasco, the revolutionary politics of Malcolm X is alive and well.

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Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire: Hamid Dabashi