Take a ride on the CTA BUS through a low-income African-American community. You will see many dysfunctional anti-social personalities. Many have facial expressions that showcases sorrow, torment, and defeat. The seats are occupied by people who are easily irritable. You will come across: the “crazy” man who talks to himself, the woman who catches the Holy Ghost, and the seven year old boy bragging about “getting pussy” even before going through puberty. There will be those who sell “lose squares” or cigarettes. Others have chosen to sell socks and other miscellaneous items conjuring up terrible raps to market their products. Those who are poor may take the bus to the end of the route and then back for the majority of their day. There will always be people who seek to sneak on the bus, unable to afford the fare and when they are inevitably caught they curse the bus driver out with harsh words.
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”. I gave her my condolences and told her one day we would create a better world than this one through revolution.
She stared at me with a blank face for a while and said “Thank-” but before she could say “you” 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.”
Afterwards, I overheard an old man say “It’s like Bosnia out here”. Although, I just went through a traumatic experience, the statement made me laugh because one of my best friends is from Bosnia and it reminded me of the fun times and adventures we had at a summer debate camp down in Alabama. Nevertheless, this man was absolutely correct. The only thing that separates the South-side of Chicago from Bosnia is that the conflict and killings there are to secure drug territory, whereas the conflict in Bosnia was religious. The south-side of Chicago is essentially a war-zone, and the living standard of Blacks is much worse than in the Civil Rights Era.
When I got off the bus, I walked home and I noticed a friend in a wheelchair. “Damn, bro what happened?” I asked. He responded, “I got shot”. He was selling drugs and his gang had been beefing with another one over territory. He told me it was just a warning a shot, which is why they just shoot him in the legs. They weren’t trying to kill him. Far from being an immoral “monster”, this guy is always smiling, laughing and optimistic. His family grew up poor and people have to do what they have to do to survive. What choice really is left for him under this decadent capitalist system? He could return to the drug-trade and either risk incarceration from the police force or death by rival gang-members. The chances of him finding employment are slim to none. He has a criminal record to deal with because he stole food from a local corner-store when his mother was addicted crack and unable to provide for him.
The situation for blacks in Chicago is indeed truly desperate. African-American’s suffer in extreme poverty that can rival any third world country. Our communities are in shambles. Parents are bitter because they are struggling to keep up with the rent; they are struggling to keep food in the refrigerator, they are struggling to keep up with the electric and water bill. Children enter their households more disillusioned from having the world on their shoulders. In this city, tears fall down the eyes of mothers as their precious children are shot down; children are often caught in crossfires, and if they somehow survive these shootouts, nightmares ponder on in their heads.
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.
As dead Prez, pointed out, “Aint no hope in the streets, you broke you sell dope. I ain’t plan to get rich fom sellin [dope].It was survival.” African American youth in Chicago have been systematically denied opportunities and pushed into the illegal economy as the only way to survive. Having no source of income, job, or education forces people to sell drugs if it will result in them being able to buy food, have a car, adequate housing and every other thing they have lived without. If people don’t have the money to maintain a living, they will prey upon the weak, people who are at the bottom rung of society like themselves to try to force out a meager living. In, Englewood, an area in Chicago, the average annual income is only $18,000. This is certainly not enough money to live a quality life. The leader of this racist-apartheid is Mayor Rahm Emmanuel who has demonstrated time and time again he wants to maintain the societal divisions and have white supremacy. This has been shown through several policies of his.
1) In the Mayoral Debates of 2010, the members of the audience were overwhelmingly African-American. A person asked the question “Do you support reparations for African—Americans?” and all of the candidates (likely afraid that they would be booed if they said “No”) answered yes,  including Rahm Emanuel. Reparations would likely bring in more income for the African-American community, but unsurprisingly, Rahm Emmanuel has not attempted to give African-Americans reparations in any way, shape, or form. As well, under his administration there has been legislation seeking to fine African-American youths who decide to “sag” their pants; that is, wear them in a manner that shows their boxers. This is an attempt to bleed the African-American community dry of what little money they have left. While many find this fashion-style of African-American youth “appalling”, the government certainly does not have the right to fine people for dressing how they want to dress, especially after exploiting and oppressing them for years.
2)There are many shootings in the South Side of Chicago, yet there are no trauma centers to operate on the victims, leaving youths to die in the streets. On the other hand, there are many hospitals and trauma centers in affluent white areas, despite their low levels of violence. People who are exposed to this violence can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, similar to troops returning from combat. However, this problem becomes compounded, as many black youths experience not single incidences of trauma but a continuous cycle. In spite of this, Rahm Emmanuel has made plans to close down mental health facilities in Chicago’s low income areas.
3) Whenever, Rahm Emanuel refers to gang-members it is in a dehumanizing discourse that portrays them as “hardened criminals” who are unworthy of “rehabilitation”. His speeches and policies have demonstrated a gross ignorance of the on-going plight of black youth in the inner-city and in the face of gang violence that has been terrorizing Chicago, he had this to say,“What happened is unacceptable. Our streets are for our children and for our law-abiding parents. Our streets do not belong to gang-bangers.”  As I pointed out in a previous article, “Rahm Emmanuel doesn’t appear to even know that the ‘soldiers’ of Chicago’s street gangs are almost exclusively children! Robert Sandifer was only twelve years old when he shot down a 14 year old kid and a young girl. He grew up in a neighborhood that was impoverished as a direct result of racist policies. Of course, Rahm Emanuel didn’t know this because his entourage had never sat down and seriously thought about why Chicago has such a huge gang problem. These gang members have been systematically disenfranchised and instead of working to rehabilitate gang members into society, they have only responded through increased police occupation of black neighborhoods and have failed to implement policies of social justice that confront the legacy of past and systemic racism.
In the face of gang violence, the Governor of Illinois who is equally as clueless and racist had this to say,”Going after the money is key to dismantling the street gangs that plague Chicago”. He was referring to a new bill that would fine people up to 250,000 if they are caught selling drugs. This governor is really uninformed if he really believes that this “genius” idea of his is actually going to halt gang violence. Is this suppose to be some type of deterrence? Does he really think that gang-members sit looking at laws in the book and are now going to stop their operation because they are going to get fined? This bill of his is an absolute joke. In reality, an equal and just distribution of wealth is “key to dismantling street gangs that plague Chicago.”
Gang-Bangers do what they do because they have nothing really to lose under this system. They have no other source of income besides an illegal drug economy . The racist Governor, also stated that “We’re warning those gang criminals that we’re coming after you,”. This quote demonstrates he has made no attempt to rehabilitate gang members back into society. When Irish Gangs decimated, set fire, and lynched African-Americans during the race riots they were not only rehabilitated back into society but transformed in the Chicago police Department.
This demonstrates the gross inequality still continuing in this city. “Gang-Bangers”, are all essentially victims of an unjust economic system. We have reached that critical point in human history, where we must began to fight the capitalist system.Our people are hungry everyday under this system. Our people are forced to sell drugs just to survive under this system. It is about time to organize ourselves, not just against Rahm Emanel’s school reform and his equally clueless “gang-laws”, but rather the entire capitalist system that is forcing our people to live in poverty. As black people, we must be opposed to capitalism because blacks were the first “capital” in America. We must fight back against any economic system based on racism, white supremacy, exploitation, and oppression. The time is now!
2)Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois (IL) http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Englewood-Chicago-IL.html
3)Mayoral debate gets heated when slave reparations come upFebruary 10, 2011
4) Chicago alderman has a problem with saggy pants http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8682323
5) 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
6) “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/
7) Karen Jordan Activists rally against mental health clinic closures
8)Rahm Emanuel On Chicago Shootings: ‘Our Streets Don’t Belong To Gang Bangers http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/24/rahm-emanuel-chicago-shootings_n_1376367.html
The Washington Syndicate
True Crime: The Forgotten Story of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer
10 New Illinois law beefs up street gangs prosecution
12)RACE NOT SPACE: A REVISIONIST HISTORY OFGANGS IN CHICAGO John M. Hagedorn* gangresearch.net/Archives/hagedorn/articles/racenotspace.pdf