I have this fascination. No wait. I have this addiction, yes that’s a better word, an addiction. Ever since the calendar days of my life have flipped closer towards 30 I have this insane desire to look and feel………like a lady. Pardon me, in my sexiest Marilyn Monroe voice. I. Am. A. Lady. I love the beauty of a no-chip manicure. How fiercely can I grab hold of the world, my man and these kids with a perfectly polished set of nails? More than a tight skirt can do, these powder pink nails give the world a small glimpse into the life force behind my smile. Only 45?
The other day my sister friend asked me what makes me smile. Of course I said my kids. I like puppies too, they’re cute. She said no. What makes your soul smile? What puts that little tingle in your spine and makes you feel on top of the world. Hmmmm. Good question. The first thing that popped into this overcrowded mind of mines were my bi-weekly Mani & Pedi’s. The smooth way that bubbling water with the blue salt transforms my urban acrylic oasis into the white Jamaican sands; how those abrasive back massagers become Emery in a Speedo an hour and a half before I have to put the meatloaf on. I can say nothing makes me feel more feminine, more girly and more like a lady than the $45 I spend twice a month with my sisters in love from the Vietnam.
But the sassy mom takes over my sexy side and says Ahmir could have gotten a new pair of school shoes or a new uniform. Dang $45 could have been my oil change and Chic-Fil-A for the kids since we’re going to be getting home late. How many hats do I wear? Which hat is more important? Is it the mother or significant other hat? The daughter or good neighbor hat? We won’t throw the spirituality hat in this equation…….see what I go through?!?! Or is it the woman hat? Is it the White hat Olivia Pope, Gladiator, She-Woman, I can do all things so I neeeds my bi-weekly mani-pedi escape to the white Jamaican sands and Emery, oh don’t forget the dark-chocolate immaculately sculpted, Emery.
Whether its $5 or $45 ladies don’t skimp out on the most important person in the equation, you. Money comes. Money goes. It’s circular. You will continuously have moments of relative wealth and moments of relative struggle. But in the shadows waiting for her day in the sun SHE will always be, you, beautiful lady. Once those small cries turn into adolescent “mommies” and then to deep voiced “Thanks mom’s” and on to “Yes mom I promise to call you more often’s” you will remain. With or without that $45 7 years ago you couldn’t give yourself because the little one could use just one more uniform shirt. If your kids take turns washing their shirts by hand on Saturday mornings because they will last much longer than in the washing machine, then that’s just that much more time you all get to spend together learning shit they should know how to do anyway! Ha! Chicago can be a stressful place, we need your light ladies. Live a little ladies and laugh a little more. So, tell me now, only $45? Dam right!
The moral crust of a society is the responsibility of its government. Right? I mean take any country, city or township and you will clearly see there are laws enacted by those in charge in hopes of maintaining a peaceful civilization. Every country has a duty to protect its people and should immediately kill (shoot, bomb or blowup) all people that don’t behave in accordance to their standards! Off with their heads! Well, this is true, according to Israeli blogger Yochanan Gordon, genocide is not only permissible it is advantageous to maintaining a harmonious society. In a blog post entitled, “When Genocide is Permissible”, printed on August 1, 2014 in the Times of Israel, Gordon states “Judging by the numbers of casualties on both side in this almost one-month old war one would be led to the conclusion that Israel has resorted to disproportionate means in fighting a far less-capable enemy.” I read this statement over, and over, and over again. The thought that continued to repeat itself was that the struggles of ethnic Palestinian people who occupy the Gaza Strip and West Bank are eerily similar to the struggles of my ethnic people of Chicago; and that if we don’t change the behavior and dynamics of all parties involved Chicago could very well end up in a military state like the Israeli/Palestinian country. I know its a lot, don’t worry, I’ll explain.
That seems like a heavy statement, the people of Chicago and Palestine are kin in their struggle of the right to live without police/military/government forces killing the people, poisoning their food sources and not allowing them access to proper education and medical services. To adequately explain my point I will briefly provide a breakdown of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This is a short synopsis just touching on major events in the conflict, please do more detailed research if you would like to be fully informed.
In the late 1800’s Jewish Europeans were looking to leave Europe and find a “homeland”, a place to lay claim and call their own. They settled on Palestine (Despite the many Palestinians who already inhabited the land. Hello Thanksgiving, Pilgrims and the Native Americans.) At first the Jewish settlers came in quietly but over the next 50 years due to the rise of Hitler in Germany, Jewish settlers came in droves of 100’s of thousands to Palestine, depleting natural resources and violently taking land from ethnic Palestinians. Hatred and conflict erupted.
In 1947 the United Nations (the gov’t body that kind of rules the world and sets the laws for how countries relate to each other) stepped in and divided up the land.The UN decided to give away 55% of the land to Jews whom only made up 30% of the population while giving the Palestinians only 45% of the land in which they represented 70% of the population. This is where the country goes from being Palestine to being Israel and Palestine. (Please note this is not the Quranic or Biblical land referred to as Israel…….. well because its Palestine.)
1947-1949 all out war broke loose. It is to be noted that Israel invaded Palestine 16 times and the organization of a Palestinian military force did not come together until after the 16th massacre of Palestinians that slaughtered over 100 people. By the end of the war in 1949 Israel had conquered 78% of Palestine. For several years after this Israel denied the existence of the ENTIRE Palestinian nation and subsequently denied the existence and lives of the Palestinian people.
Conflicts waged on and there was no peace for Arabs or Israeli’s. Once again conflicts came to a head and resulted in the 6 day War of 1967, Israel feared the Arab countries of Syria, Egypt and Jordan would unify and attack them so Israel struck first under the leadership of Israeli Defense Minister General Moshe Dayan. Troops invaded the last 22% of land occupied by Palestinians, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since International Law forbids acquiring land by war these are “occupied” territories and do not legally belong to Israel. Israel also “occupied” land in Egypt but has since given it back. How thoughtful 🙂
This brings us to the current day conditions. Palestine was traditionally about 89% Muslim and 7% Christian before Israeli invasion. Ethnic Arabs, whether Muslim or Christian, are systematically discriminated against, being barricaded by concrete blocks into Gaza and the West Bank. Here is a picture of the entire land of Palestine/Israel, those areas highlighted in a royal doo-doo green represent present day “Palestine” and the orange areas are referred to as Israel (though the whole country is technically Palestine).
According to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics in 2013 there were 4.42 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. The Gaza strip occupies 179 sq miles of land. To give you an ideal of the dense amount of people crammed into that small space competing for clean water, food and other resources, Google Maps has taken the land mass of Gaza and laid it on top of New York. The Gaza Strip may be at most 1/4 of the land area of New York. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken the subway in New York but I’ve had the privilege of being almost strangled by a mass of bodies in the thick New York heat that were too dense to all fit on the rail cars nor all on the platform.
But how is this Chi and what can we learn? Let’s first define the sides; for all intents and purposes the ethnic races of Chicago (African Americans, Indigenous Africans and Caribbean peoples and the many diverse groups of Hispanic peoples) of Chicago represent the ethnic Arab Palestinian people, the city government and CPD represent the Israeli Military Force and the gangs and criminal element in the city represent Hamas.
According to Alon Ben-Meir, International Relations Professor at the Center for Global Affairs NYU, “A critical impediment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the complete distrust between the two sides. What makes the conflict even more intractable is that neither side is convinced that distrusting the other can be mitigated given the history of the conflict.” The deeply rooted distrust of Chicago Politicians and Police Force by ethnic groups in Chicago began in the early to mid 1900’s when the Jewish and Polish underworld leaders moved into politics as Sicilian and other Italian mob bosses took control over prostitution rings and gambling houses. Added to the great migration of Blacks from the south to northern cities to escape Jim Crow Laws and the beginning of a multi-decade wave of Mexican and South American immigration created competition for power, space and resources . The outlaw of alcohol during prohibition graciously handed the newly elected City Council members, Aldermen and Mayor’s Office a cash cow in bribes, kick backs and payoffs. The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 began when an African-American teenager crossed the invisible boundary in Lake Michigan and swam into the Whites only territory. He was stoned by many of the White beach goers and drowned. The Riots of 1968 saw racial tensions swell to a boiling point after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Whether Eugene Williams’ was too tired to swim to shore and just gave up or the White beach goers stoned him to death for leaving the Blacks only section, it is clear that the subsequent police and Mayoral cover up gives just a slight glimpse at the history of distrust between elected officials/police force and the people…..just like Palestine/Israel.
A majorsource of anger for humanitarian groups is that the Israeli Military are bringing guns to a knife fight, they’re painting Picasso’s in an art competition for kindergartner’s. The Palestinian people are NOT equipped with rockets in their bedrooms nor do they house drone bombs that can be detonated at the push of a button nor do they posses DIME weapons like the Israeli military. DIME’s are Dense Inert Metal Explosives that rip human flesh to shreds just like a paper shredder does to last month’s bills. The Israeli defense is that Hamas is killing Israeli citizens and military personnel therefore these aggressive attacks on the people are necessary. Hold UP. Insert the City of Chicago HERE. Does it sound familiar that the unified government/police force are targeting innocent citizens based off of the actions of a small and very dangerous terrorist faction. Could this scenario represent the gangs menacing the city and riddling our streets with gun violence so police harass everyday citizens, snatch young men out of cars and brutally beat them for driving while ethnic? Could this represent how the CPD has stopped responding to residential burglaries, street muggings and other crimes enacted by thugs? Doesn’t the Israeli Military force notice that Hamas harasses Palestinian citizens as well and makes their dwellings unsafe and potential bomb targets? Doesn’t CPD recognize that the same people shooting at them are the same people breaking in our garages, robbing us and sending the gunfire through OUR neighborhoods, often times hitting the wrong targets and killing our beautiful children? The ethnic Palestinians and ethnic Chicagoan’s are both fighting a battle against the powers that be and sadly fighting for survival among people of our own group who have decided that chaos and murder are easier to spread than butter.
The structural makeup of the land in Palestine and Chicago may look obviously different but the mental and psychological effects of their living conditions are the same.
Above is a picture of a Palestinian man sitting on top of the Israeli settlement, Ofra, in Gaza. Study this picture. First to note, Jewish Settlements are groups of Israeli civilian citizens who independently decide that they want to live in Palestinian designated space and any Palestinians who currently live there have to move. Not only do Israeli civilian citizens move into Palestinian neighborhoods, they then require protection from the Israeli Military who then decides that concrete boulders need to be put up to protect the Israeli citizens, creating sub standard “ghetto’s” and dense populations who cannot move in or out of their homes due to barricades they are not allowed to cross for the seeming “protection” of Israeli’s. This process of settlement building remind me of gentrification. Affluent groups (98% of these people are of Caucasian descent) deem an area of Chicago desirable, so they begin the process of buying up properties in that neighborhood which in return raises the property value to levels not affordable by the current demographic of people who live in the area. Increased number of police are now designated to patrol the area to “protect” the newly gentrified people in the area, of course this policing is biased, racists and causes way more problems for the original occupant of this area. To further “protect” the new gentrified population, speed humps, dead end streets and concrete blockades are put up to control the movement of the people.
Notice how this neighborhood block was cut in two and made into a no access street. Can we imagine how we could dictate what goods and services even down to what grocery stores and what foods are accessible to certain people by opening and closing roads and buildings. Busses cannot travel down dead end streets. If the population of a community has a low employment and educational rate, it is logical that most citizens will probably not have access to personal vehicles or very reliable ones at least, so public transportation is necessary to transport them to areas of the city that conduct business and provide goods. What happens when the new population develops businesses in the area that are totally unrelated and not affordable to the people who already live there? The buildings may be different; some may be brick and others may be concrete. We may rock gym shoes and jeans while they rock cottons and flowy fabrics but the systematic repression of a people bear the same results; intolerance, hatred, retaliation and death.
We Chicagoans can look to the Plestinian/Israeli conflict to see what a truly militarized city would be like. Would that be what we wanted? When there are 22 shootings and 10 murders over the weekends people cry for Martial Law, we need the military! I don’t think individuals realize what living in a city completely free of local government and ran by the United States Military would be like. Life would suck. There will be 8 pm curfews and those who stay outside pass them would risk being shot. There would be no free flow of information, where you live would become like a fortress with no one allowed to move freely in and out of neighborhoods. The military would decide what medical treatment people received, when and how soon. So do you agree that Chicago and Israel/Palestine share some similarities? What are you going to do to regain some control over our city?
When people ask why you are concerned about foreign relations and the crisis in the Middle East this is why; There but for the grace of God go I. -RD
It has to be said. This has to be addressed. I know you’ve heard the news stories this week and read the headlines about Chicago’s deadliest weekend in murders and shootings. Well as always there’s his story, her story and the Chi By Design story. Let me first tell you as a resident of Chicago for 24 out of the 28 years of my life I do not now nor have I ever walked through my neighborhood in fear. I do not have the impending dread that as I open my car door to drop my daughter off at daycare that I will be riddled by bullets. Please. Drop the paranoia. Let the sensationalism go and we can begin to have a real conversation, a dialogue of sorts about the situation facing my city. It’s not JUST the thugs. It’s not JUST the CPD. It’s not JUST the politics and politricks or the failing public education system. Its not JUST the lack of community and family involvement. It is definitely NOT the millions of gun laws and gun bans and increased fines for citizens carrying guns. There is a combination of human fallacy on every end of the spectrum that has brought us to today. This post will unfold several times over the next few weeks. I mean seriously, how can you address a problem whose solutions are so deep and multi-faceted, in one article or blog post? News sources that blasts headlines like, Chicago the New Murder Capitol; and then spend four paragraphs addressing and solving the issue as if it were as simple as saying, please don’t shoot, it hurts, is irresponsible.
The most common cure I hear for curbing the gun violence in Chicago is to create tougher gun laws. Ha! Let me laugh one more time, Ha! Ooh wait as a matter of fact let me get my 7 chuckles in like Katt Williams says. In the first post of this series we will explore the history of Chicago in terms of organized crimes and gangs and Chicago law enforcement. The history of gangs and organized crimes in Chicago have an origination date almost as old as the city. Chicago became incorporated on March 4, 1837 and according to an 1855 Chicago Tribune news article the entire city of Chicago was lifted between 4-14 feet to make way for a new citywide sewage system to combat the mud and water effects of being built right next to Lake Michigan. Not only did this process raise the standards of living for Chicagoan’s it opened the door for the illegal underworld of prostitution, gambling money laundering alcohol and later drug sales. If you’ve ever driven down Lower Wacker Drive, before the renovations, you got to see first hand the underground entrances and exists of mob bosses like Alphonse “Scarface” Capone and Giacomo “Big Jim” Colosimo.
It is said that there are hundreds of covert underground rooms and sewage systems that connect all over the city that were used to house brothels and during prohibition used to smuggle hooch throughout the city. In 1919, the first year of prohibition, Chicago laid its groundwork to become what has been touted today as the murder capital of the US.
Famously known as “The Beer Wars”, Chicago’s biggest gangs divided up the city into territories and began an all out war against each other. The Torrio Mob controlled the South and South-West sides of the city. The mob included 8 different and independent gangs under their flag. Vying for the south side territories were also the South Side O’Donnel Brothers, the Saltis McErlane mob and the Ralph Sheldon gang. With the Sicilians out vying the Irish for power in the black market, the Irish transitioned to politics and began a very profitable relationship. The Race Riots of 1919 began after an African-American boy was drowned in Lake Michigan after accidentally crossing the barrier for the blacks only section at the beach and police refused to charge the white man several eye witnesses identified as the murderer. This week of non stop fighting and all out war between black and white gangs on the city’s south side sparked the beginning of what will soon become the rise of the political black gangs for safety and protection of the black citizen.
During the next 30 years the Italian Outfit moved its underhanded dealings from the streets to the political arena. Employing hundreds of former mobsters and murders as police officers and higher up city officials in the Aldermanic, Mayoral and Gubernatorial offices through the Democratic Machine, nicknamed in Chicago, The Machine. By the 1960’s black gangs began to form in political response to the gang and mob mentality of the government, committeemen and elected officials. The Vice Lord gang was created in St. Charles Juvenile Correction Center by young men from the North Lawndale neighborhood. Upon their release they went back to the west side neighborhood and recruited hundreds of black youth into their gang. Originally the Vice Lords were bad news for the community and brought much terror to the residents. In the mid 1960’s several of the Vice Lord groups met and decided that they no longer wanted to be associated with being a street gang and the new Conservative Vice Lords were about economic empowerment of their community. Bobby Gore, spokesman of the new CVL, along with David Dawley, the first White Vice Lord, proposed grants and received government funding to open Teen Town, two Tastee Freeze parlors, a slew of after school programs and GED training courses along with other educational programs. around the same time on the south side of the city, present day Englewood, a young man by the name of Larry Hoover was kicked out of school and joined the Supreme Gangsters and quickly rose as the leader. During its early stages the Supreme Gangsters were terrors to their communities introducing prostitution and gambling into the neighborhoods; sounds a lot like the Irish and Sicilian mobs of the early 1920’s. As with the Vice Lord Nation on the west side, during the mid 1960’s the Black Gangster Disciples turned courses and began to open gas stations, fund community programs, restaurants and even served as truancy officers to enforce black students to attend school. Prevalent in Chicago as well was the Black Panther Party who set up a free lunch program to feed THOUSANDS of hungry children before school and during the summer months.
Black gangs were uniting and developing a social consciousness and a political awareness that had not been seen since the Great Black Migration from the south right after WW1. Unfortunately the gangs in political office did not like the unification of black citizens in Chicago. The 40-50,000 gang members politically unified scared the living shits out of Mayor Richard J. Daley and here lies the birth of the War on Gangs. On May 9, 1969 State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, in a press conference, announced the official Daley administration’s War on Gangs. This war created a task force to spy on and break down the black political gangs from an internal prospective. During the mid 1970’s you see a decline in the economic, political and social state of the black community infiltrated by the, totally surprise and random introduction, of crack cocaine into the community. The once strong male leaders of the gangs and therefore the community were reduced to zombied out shells of their former selves. With the wrongful conviction of Bobby Moore and the retirement of several other prominent leaders, the black gangs were being dragged back in to the underworld of crime. The Chicago Police had more support now than ever to establish discord and abuse in the black neighborhoods under the guise of the ‘War on Gangs’, sound a little like Bush’s War on Terror? The introduction of crack, the rampant ruling of the Machine and the continuous downfall of our educational system pretty much brings us up to date on gang life and history in Chicago.
Please remember that all discussions in this series are related to the cause and cure of the “gun violence” in Chicago. You’ll never know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re coming from, If you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it and all of those other sayings describe why its important to look at today in the context of yesterday. I’ m tired, this is tiring. Research for this post made mad and sad at the same time but it was necessary. Please share your thoughts below. We have a long way to go. Check back in the next few days for the next installment of this series on Gun Violence in Chicago. Until next time- RD