As you’ve probably heard, over 40+ people have been shot in Chicago this past weekend in a span of 7 hours. Everyone is in an uproar and once again, the conversation about violence in the city has become a hot topic. And the long-held question regarding what we are going to do about Black on Black crime rears its ugly head once again. We’ve been battling the implementation of a gang database in this city for quite some time and folks have been confused as to why we’re against these measures if they will “help stop gun violence in the city”. Why do we want to abolish police and prisons while we’re out here killing one another? Why are we against law and order and protection in our communities? Well… before I list out where we stand and why, please read this article written a couple of years ago to get us all on the same page.
Okay, so things to consider:
- Sex work, drugs, gangs, etc. are all mostly created by systems of poverty that drive marginalized and underprivileged people in situations where they have to take action in order to survive. Mostly fueled by self-determination, folks engage in work that isn’t necessarily legally protected to make sure that they can afford the means of survival that they need. These economies don’t just pop up out of the blue – they are systemically produced by white supremacy and capitalism that leaves little to no means to thrive for Black and Brown folks. So gangs are most certainly a product of centuries-long racist practices.
- There is a MAJOR lack of opportunities and resources for folks living on Chicago’s south and west sides. Especially in cities like Chicago where $4 million a day is allocated towards policing meanwhile schools are closed by the dozens, mental health facilities are virtually non-existent, and community members have to fight to have a trauma center built nearby. This failure to invest in the community and provide folks with essential and progressive resources leads to a stripping away of folks’ self-determination, dignity, and value of their own humanity – where life becomes a dehumanizing struggle to just make ends meet and feel seen in the world. When Black folks are forced to even fight for their own humanity, ideologically, that becomes the most precious virtue of all. And so folks will fight for that… will kill for that. Because they aren’t given anything else. They aren’t given the opportunity to see outside of trying to be seen. Black men aren’t allowed to live outside of the confines of masculinity as defined through toxic and dehumanizing lenses. Black women aren’t allowed to see themselves as more than the sum of their parts. And so gangs and violence in general in our communities can largely be attributed to the lack of value and humanity that Black folks are afforded in this country. When you have to fight for a trauma center, what does that tell you?
- Police have been trying to “solve” gang-related crimes for decades to no avail. Their consistent attempts to “thwart crime” has just been attacks on Black and Brown communities – shuttling folks through the prison system, separating families, targeting and harassing community members, etc. The two approaches – 1. broken windows policing where you get people for petty crimes to try to stop larger crimes/get the smaller man or 2. chop down the big men at the top. Neither work because the former leads to very racialized policing that’s ineffective and dehumanizing and the latter has just created a chaotic, unorganized structure that has dismantled communal groups and leads to smaller, more stratified networks of gangs. Regardless of what police do, gangs will exist and violence will prevail as long as the systems continue to operate in the ways that they do to contribute to points one and two. Police will not free us nor will they protect us. And their consistent leeching of city budgets for ineffective and highly discriminatory practices to continue to dehumanize Black and Brown folks as opposed to those funds sustaining the communities will continue to perpetuate harmful conditions for our people.
- So we ask, who is actually killing who? This is why we do the work that we do? None of this is Black and white (lol it is but it ain’t) and it is our duty to expose and thwart the covertness of anti-Black oppression.
Let us know what you think! What are effective ways to address this violence within our communities?