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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.

The Street Scriptures

The Street Scriptures

The vast majority of blacks across inner-cities find themselves born into violent, poverty-stricken neighborhoods, and everybody is struggling to make it out. Kids die young; crying mothers watch in horror as the carcasses of their dead sons, deformed by bullet holes, are hauled off. The face of desperation is illustrated on the face of disenfranchised youth who look to crime as the only way to have what others are given at birth: food, clothing, and shelter. Many don’t expect to live past eighteen years old. They live a life of brutality and profound misery; in the wealthiest nation on earth, they live in utter poverty. Hip-hop emerged within these impoverished social conditions and reveals vividly the plight facing these youth. Nas remarks, “Street scriptures for lost souls in the crossroads.” His one-time rival Jay-Z remarks, ”Never read the Qur’an or Islamic Scriptures, only Psalms I read was on the arms of my niggas.” In these oppressed neighborhoods, the music often conveys both the conditions of the people and the morals which come from the laws of the streets, not religious textbooks.

The album Illmatic served as a street scripture. Coming out in the year 1994, it combined profound lyricism with great vocabulary, a nasty flow, and stories conveying the realities of the streets. In “Represent,” Nas spits, ”Straight up shit is real and any day could be your last in the jungle. Get murdered on a humble, guns blast, niggas tumble. The corners is the hot spot, full of mad criminals… who don’t care, guzzling beers, we all stare.” The line, ”Anyday could be your last in the jungle” refers to the low life expectancy in the hood -many youth don’t see themselves living past 21. .  Nas further illustrates this with the line,” like “crews without guns are goners” demonstrating how difficult it is to survive without resorting to violence.  In the neighborhoods, the drug economy serves as the main source of employment due to the lack of job opportunities.  The hood is called the jungle because of the bewildered, sporadic nature of life there – gun fire, police brutality, and fist fights can occur at any time. There is no source of stability. “Guns blast, niggas tumble” refers to the dead bodies piling up from the various street conflicts. “The corners the hot spot, full of mad criminals who don’t care” is, of course, describing the mentality of the youth on the corner that live with no source of social mobility, causing their source of consciousness and ethics to dissolve.They can’t survive holding onto morals, so they simply don’t care who their violence or behavior affects.

98188-stashIn the classic intro to Stillmatic, Nas spits, “Stepped over dope fiends. Walking out the door, all of us poor. I learned the difference between the snitches, the real ones, and whose soft and the murderous hungriest crews, people jumping from roofs, shotguns pumpin, made it through my youth.” The hood produces many dope fiends – addicts to heroin- many turn to drugs as a coping mechanism for the pain and anguish they face every day in the hood. “All of us poor” refers to the ubiquitous nature of poverty among black youth living in these neighborhoods. Nas proceeds to distinguish between the various personality types he witnessed in the hood from the “snitches” to “the real ones.” Snitches are informants to the police who report drug dealing and crime activity – these individuals are not liked in the hood because their actions often result in youth being victimized by the prison industrial complex or police brutality. “The real ones” refers to the full-time gangsters who truly embody the laws of the streets; despite what was said earlier about “those who don’t care,” within intra-gangs (or the hood in general), attributes such loyalty and bravery are often promoted. The murderous crews Nas speaks of refers to various gangs who have entered into the drug economy seeking to protect their territory via the barrel of a gun.

In “My Block,” Tupac Shakur further elaborates on the social conditions in the hood. He begins saying, ”On my block, it never fails to be gunshots. Can’t explain a mother’s pain when her son drops.” In these neighborhoods, gunshots are not a rarity, but rather something to be expected. Further, Tupac goes on to say, “No rest forever weary. My eyes stay teary for all the brothers I buried in the cemetery. Shit is scary how black on black crime is legendary, but sometimes necessary.” In such impoverished living arrangements, though black on black crime is recognized, youth are pitted together as their only way to survive. Tupac makes this point when he states, “God help me cause I’m starving, can’t get a job. So I resort to violent robberies, my life is hard.” The chorus of the song simply states, ”hard times is all I see,” which demonstrates the ubiquitous nature of struggle that they are in. Then Tupac makes a very profound statement: “From the Start, I felt the racism cause I’m dark.” Nas makes a similar statement: “It seems like the darker you are, the bigger your problems.”

Though they have no degree in sociology, no knowledge of the scientific studies conducted on the correlation of skin color to social The Third World Inside of America: A Critical Look at the Southside of Chicago PT 1standings, nor have they have read a paper on the still prevalent nature of institutionalized racism (even in the age of Obama), they are largely aware of racism in our society because they are the ones who endure it. Indeed, all of the abhorrent conditions described in the street scriptures above are not the result of innate moral defiance within the people, rather, they are created by the legacy of Jim Crow and on-going institutionalized racism. In this society, which creates conditions in which crime is the only way to survive, the young black’s access to social mobility is severely hampered. These street scriptures spread awareness of the on-going legacy of Jim Crow and the systematic structural violence affecting black youth. By calling attention to these narratives, we can challenge the erroneous notion that the end of legal racism and the end of Jim Crow laws led to the end of “institutionalized racism” or real material benefit in the lives of African-Americans.

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

 

 

Hadiya Pendleton & The Civil War in Chicago.

There is a war occurring in the South Side of Chicago. A war between various street organizations desperate to overtake an illegal economy and carry out retaliatory hits. A war that is the result of past and systemic oppression by the Government. If one goes on Twitter and looks up the trending topics for Chicago, they will see a reference to this on-going war. Chicago’s trending Twitter topics is in reference to the phrases that Chicago residents are using most. Two of the ten are “BDK” and “GDK.”  BDK stands for Black Disciple Killer and Gangsta Disciple Killer, respectively. It is not uncommon to see these phrases also engraved on the cement, street poles and other areas within Chicago. All Gangs are essentially a product of institutionalized  racism(http://hakeemmuhammad.com/2012/04/19/chicagos-Gangs-a-product-of-institutionalized-racism/)

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Wikipedia, describes the Black Disciples as, “a large African American street Gang based in Chicago Illinois. The Gang is considered extremely violent and is known to engage in drug trafficking.

96px-Robert_sandiferOne notable Black Disciple is Robert “Yummy” Sandifer. When Robert ‘Yummy’ Sandifer was only nine years old, he had already been in and out of jail multiple times, deeply involved in the Chicago street life, committing a series of armed robberies and murders. One day Robert Sandifer was sent on a mission to shoot members of the Gangsta Disciples. He accomplished in shooting Gangsta Disciple members but in the process of doing so accidently shot Shavon Dean, a 14 year old innocent girl who happened to be caught in the cross fire.

This event occurred in 1994, over a decade ago, which sparked much “Stop the Violence” marches and achieved much media attention since the killer and the victim were so young. Eventually, Robert Sandifer was executed by fellow members of Black Disciples. Since then, violence has continued and escalated; although many “Stop the Violence” campaigns took place, there was no change in the structural conditions causing this violence.Other Black Disciple members include Lil Reese and Chief Keef, a now incarnated rapper known for violence lyrics, one of which states that, “We don’t carry rifles cause bitch we black disciples. We just carry 30s and 50s bullets gon’ bite you.”  In another song he goes on to indicate that “Fuck a Tooka Gang bitch, I’m 3hunna. Tooka is a reference to the Gangsta Disciples, another large American street Gang in Chicago. 3hunna is a reference to the 300 faction of the Black Disciples.  Lil Jojo, now deceased, was a Gangsta Disciple rapper who carried automatic weapons in videos. In one of his songs he stated, “You Claim 3hunna? You get wacked[shot], nigga that ain’t where it’s at.”

Both Gangsta Disciple members and the “Young Money” faction of the Black Disciples are heavy in the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhood where the University of Chicago is located – and they are at war. This is precisely why the University of Chicago is alleged to have the second highest amount of security after the Vatican. Martin Luther King College Prep High-School, a school I am an alumni to, is also in this community. King College Prep was once a high-school infamous for gang-violence taking place within the school. The Chicago Public Schooling system then decided to make it a selective enrollment school giving it the ability to recruit based on standardized tests and middle school grades instead of from the neighborhood which, at the time, was facing gentrification.

The older graduation classes of King had a strong gang presence, however with each graduation class, the Gang members began to be weeded out due to the school being able to select it pool. Last weekend, I was in Evanston, Illinois for a debate tournament. My mother came out, and we had dinner and began to talk about Hadiya, a King College Prep Student, who was an innocent victim in this on-going civil war within Chicago. I’ve been deeply disturbed, and downright angry and saddened, over her death. I had become good friends with  Klyn Jones. She was a freshman while I was a senior at King. I met her when she joined the debate team and she quickly became my favorite novice due her willingness to become engaged in my rants about white supremacy and capitalism. Her best friend was Hadiya, and they were together at the scene of the crime. On her Twitter page she stated:

 

“I’m not ready for Saturday, and at fifteen, I shouldn’t have to ready myself to see my best friend who is literally my age in a casket.”

 “am I in Iraq? or the city the president came from?

She then began to tweet her best friend posthumously telling her, “Good Morning” and “Good-Night.”  Indeed, no one should have to experience such tragedy at such a young age. I began to talk more with my mother about this incident and the violence in Chicago. Then the television, which was on CNN, began to discuss Hadiya. They pointed out that two people who were in custody for her murder.  I wanted to see the faces of the men who killed this beautiful girl.

CNN was not showing them at the time, so later when I got to the hotel I took out my laptop and went to the Chicago Tribune  which indicated that:

“Micheal Ward, 18 Kenneth Williams 20, have been charged with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, in the death of Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton. Authorities said Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, members of the Gangster Disciples street gang, were feuding with Gang rivals in the area where Hadiya was shot to death.”

Then they showed a picture of one of the men charged for this crime — Kenneth Williams; I knew him. He was also an alumnus of King College Prep and a part of my older brother’s graduating class.

I do not wish to absolve the two men of their personal responsibility.  Both if convicted and found guilty should be justifiably punished. They were looking to shoot down rival Gang-members, and allegedly in a totally inept and incompetent move, mistook innocent school children for those Gangs members and opened fire on them.However, it is important to realize Chicago violence will not stop and will continue to escalate unless we address the structural conditions that gave birth to them –poverty, inequality caused by social conditions created by institutional racism. Chicago’s state-sanctioned racism produces “thugs” and systematically strips the morality from people and replaces it with a stone cold heart as is 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.

1)http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-12/news/chi-hadiya-pendleton-charges-20130211_1_area-central-police-headquarters-gang-members-rival-gang

Hadiya Pendleton: A Letter to Barack Obama, Newtown to Chiraq

Dear Barack Obama, I’m from the bloodiest and most violent area ever recorded in modern American history—the Southside of Chicago. Recently, Hadiya Taylor Pendleton , a young lady, who attended King College Prep High-School (where I am a high-school alumni) was shot and killed.  My condolences and prayers are with Hadiya and her family. She was only 15 years old. Although, I didn’t  really know Hadiya personally,  she attended the Chicago Debate Summer Institute with me and we had plenty of mutual friends who had this to say:

“Just please stop! I am tired of all this gang shit, violence, shooting, all of it; my friend just got shot and killed today.”

” I held her hand and told her everything was gonna be okay and it wasn’t and I know bullets don’t have name but my best friend had one and a smile to light up a room, and her senseless murder will not be in vain. It cant be. She can’t just die and we treat it like its nothing. Stuff like this is too commonplace.”

According, to the Chicago Sun Times, “Police said Hadiya had no previous arrest history and doesn’t appear to be in a gang. But preliminary information indicates most of the members she was with were gang members. None of the group stuck around to help Hadiya or wait for the police.”[1]

This is a textbook case of terrible reporting allegedly coming from ‘reputable’ news sources. According, to primary sources  coming from KCP students:

“The news really knows how to fuck up a story. One, they spent 20 seconds talking about how my best friend was with gang members, then they don’t even mention Lawrence got shot, and then said we all ‘fled the scene.’ I WAS HOLDING HER HAND TALKING HER THROUGH IT. VERONICA AND JORDAN WERE TALKING TO POLICE OFFICERS. SHE WAS IN DANETRIA’S LAP UNTIL THE AMBULANCE CAME. HOW THE FUCK WAS LAWRENCE GOING TO RUN WHEN HE GOT SHOT IN THE FUCKING ANKLE?”

thehadThe language is harsh but the living conditions of African-American youth throughout Chicago are harsher. President Obama, you used to do community organization in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood—recently Joseph Coleman (Lil JOJO) was shot and killed there. When I was in sixth grade you spoke at the graduation ceremony for my school. I’ve also attended your former church where I heard your once close pastor Jeremiah Wright spoke. My community is running rapid with gun violence. Robert Sandifer was a 12 year old kid from my community who over a decade ago was carrying out shootings  for his gang. I was once talking to a kid who hadn’t even reached his teenage years yet; he was putting up ‘gang signs’ and calling out the names of respective street organizations. I asked him why he was doing this and he responded, “If you out slangin’ dope and someone shoot you, they go put up they sign. You gotta know who they belong to if you want to get them back.” This is the reality of black life in Chicago. I am sure you are aware of the gun violence in Chicago; indeed in your victory speech you stated

Robert_sandifer“We believe in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who pledges to our flag, to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the street corner, to the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a diplomat or even a president. We will rise and fall as one nation, and as one people. It doesn’t matter if you are black or white, young or old, rich or poor. You can make it in America, if you’re willing to try.”[2]

Hadiya, who attended your second inaugural address to preform is not the only Chicago Public Student to be shot. According to the progressive labor party:

“Before Renaissance 2010, the intolerable number of CPS students fatally shot in these neighborhoods was 15. In the 2006-07 school year, it rose to 24; in 2007-08 to 23 deaths and 211 shootings. Now in 2008-09 it’s risen to over 40 fatalities and 290 shootings (five in the first two months). These resemble numbers from Iraq or Afghanistan.”[2]

The Southside of Chicago is in shambles resembling third world countries. Currently, America is a long ways from accomplishing what you desire. The fatal shooting of Hadiya Taylor took place in less than a mile from your Chicago house. I was reading a book recently entitled ‘The Assassination Of Fred Hampton’ where the author, the lawyer of Fred Hampton who attend the University of Chicago back in the 60’s, said[4]

“On the South Side of Chicago I was surrounded by a poor black community, one being displaced by the university I was attending…  I could not ignore the blatant inequality between their lives and mine.”

My former school, King College Prep, is located within a couple of miles of your home and the University of Chicago. My school has a very unique history; over a decade ago it used to be known as a violent school filled with gang activity. But when the neighborhood became gentrified, King College Prep became a ‘selective enrollment’ school and over time weeded out the disenfranchised youth who were members of various gang organizations and replaced them with students who were academically successful.

Yet, despite the gentrification of the neighborhood, gangs are still very much prevalent in this community, but of course your house, as well as the University of Chicago (which is filled with police protection), is shielded from such violence.  However, urban black youth who are simply walking home back from school are not.

20 suburban children were killed in Newton, and this was a very unfortunate event. You decided to visit the parents of some of their slain children and meet their families.  Between 2008 to 2009, over 200 black youth had been shot with 40 of them not surviving. A couple of months ago while I was on the 75th bus, there was a woman crying hysterically. Her sad red eyes and swollen face formed by years of hopelessness, cried out “They shot down my last boy.”  The grief in her face left me heartbroken and so I asked her, “What happened?” She told me she had three boys and that all of them had been shot down in cold blood.

“One of my boys was shot down when he was 17, the second when he was 15, and the last when he was 19,” she replied. I then asked, “Why were they shot?” And her response to this question truly broke my heart in half: “I COULD never PROVIDE for them.” She started crying hysterically again and then stated “They started selling drugs. I couldn’t tell them no. They was [sic] getting food into their stomachs.”

Why I blog.Then, a man with a sinister, crazed, heartless look walked onto the bus with a gun. I quickly got down and everybody collided into each other in a mad frenzy trying to duck down. Everyone got down except for the woman I was talking to. The man with the gun simply said “scary ass bitches,” and walked off, thankfully without shooting anyone. I asked her why she didn’t get down and her response was,” I don’t care ‘bout life no more. My boys was all I had.”

President Obama, why do you not visit the parents of slain children in Chicago? Do you have any idea of what such an event would mean to the black community? Why has the Newton massacre has become so grieved over? And why is it that the innumerable casualties of  Chicago Gang’s wars shown unworthy  of the same attention and remorse? Indeed, as I saw this headline on yahoo news, this girls death was met with racist and disgusting comments by white citizens of this nation.

“Some blacks have yet to evolve into human beings…. .”

“Hmph – wonder if her shooter will end up looking like what Obummer’s son would look like if he had one. :-/” (http://news.yahoo.com/photos/chicago-high-school-sophomore-hadiya-pendleton-shot-killed-photo-120200826.html)

Despite, what conservatives claim, the origins of this violence and poverty in the black community stem mainly from one source: capitalism. African-Americans were brutally worked for no pay at all. This brutal enslavement of African people gave America the wealth it has today. After slavery, African-Americans endured Jim Crow laws that significantly halted any aspirations they had for socio-economic equality.

In the post-Jim Crow era, black people would be exploited and subjugated in new more sly ways. Blacks still face discrimination in every area of American society from housing, credit, health-care, education and employment opportunities.

President Obama, what will your administration do to confront the ongoing oppression of black people which in turn causes gun violence and premature deaths of black youth?

1) http://www.suntimes.com/17889243-418/one-week-after-attending-inaugural-south-side-teen-shot-dead-in-neighborhood-park.html

2) http://uptownmagazine.com/2012/11/president-obamas-victory-speech-video-transcript/4/, President Obama’s Victory Speech [VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT]

 3)http://www.plp.org/challenge/2009/11/13/derrion-albert-is-not-racist-capitalisms-first-or-last-victi.html
4) The assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther by Jeffrey Haas.

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.