Thursday, February 07, 2013

Guns and Race in Chicago

Let’s talk about the second amendment. Let’s talk about the fact that it was never meant to be about individual rights to carry whatever weapons one wants. Let’s talk about the fact it was never written with the idea of semi-automatics or tanks. Let’s talk about well-regulated militias, which eventually became state guards, but which at least one purpose was for the regulation and keeping in line of slaves to guard against the very real threat of slave revolts. But it was never, until recently, meant to be constitutionally interpreted as being a right for individual firearms owners to own whatever weapons they wanted.

Let’s talk about the NRA. Let’s talk about the fact that they’ve spent the last three decades not just actively blocking through legislative bullying, but torturing and threatening the lives of any who would dare study the effects of guns and weapons of mass destruction and effective methods of gun control that would save lives without taking away our rights. Let’s talk about Wayne LaPierre, the cro-magnun carrying rhetoric too insipid, vomit-inducing, and warmed over for even Fox News. And Fox News is the Hot Pocket of media rhetoric.

Let’s talk about white people hyperventilating about the widespread violence in Chicago’s West and South Side neighborhoods as if it was a place in which they had any involvement, investment, or concern. And here I don’t want to just limit the scope to the Second Amendmenters, the TP, the gun fetishists, the neo-cons, or Republicans. I want to consider such auspicious Democrats as Rahm Emanuel and most of White Chicago. For if we cared about the people and neighborhoods of color in Chicago, our crime prevention would have a hell of a lot more involved, intricate, and inspired investment than locking up significant percentages of the young-to-middle-aged black and brown male populations. There is work, there is money. Lord, there sure is a lot of wealth accumulating in this city – but it accumulates at the White Center: The Loop, Lincoln Square, gentrifying neighborhoods like my own Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods. Those areas largely unaffected by red and yellow dots.

Courtesy the Chicago Sun-Times

This money is set aside by venture capitalists for venture capitalists. The rest of the city (“Brown Chicago”) gets token scraps here and there. But even those are threatened. Union jobs for the city? Not if some in White Chicago have their say. Unions are made of the rabble, and therefore not dependable to keep their money circulating where its immediately valuable to the center of WC.

But as long as the Loop, Lincoln Park, and Wicker Park are operating, the poverty and gun violence of Brown Chicago barely registers as a problem in White Chicago. So the mayor can shut down schools and after-school programs and community-based mental health clinics and homeless transitioning programs – what little that has worked to reduce violence and increase safety for children and adults – while touting a broken-windows crime-fighting system that does not work (unless the effectiveness we’re looking for is how much of BC can end up locked-up for non-violent offenses). He can close down those schools and open up non-union charter schools run by unprotected teachers and as a business – a business that, incidentally, is run like many other businesses in Chicago. Which means there are plenty of jobs and money for the city and even for minorities! As long as you’re connected to influential politicians in the city. The rest of Brown Chicago can, apparently, suck it.

You see, as long as blow-hards like Wayne LaPierre and states like Indiana, Arizona and Louisiana continue to justify and act as points of access for guns in Chicago, it really doesn’t matter how tough the gun laws are in Chicago. We have too many guns with too much access for too many people. As a result - mixed in with racial and class violence that is top-down by its very nature - dozens of innocent children and young folks are gunned down every week, long before God has kissed their lives.

So though Chicago can do little about the gun culture (thanks to back-ass gun fetishists), we can do much to alleviate violence in our city. We can supply meaningful, living wage jobs in our economically depressed regions, we can support grassroots collaborations between neighbors, we can entreat the mayor to expand schools rather than close them, we can support affordable housing over homelessness and displacement. We can open hospitals and trauma centers near the centers where trauma tends to take place.

We, in WC, can partner listen to (and patronize the businesses of) BC and partner with them to see effectual, transitional, substantial, lasting change.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with quite a bit of what you wrote (from the whites controlling the wealth of the city, and concentrated in "their" areas, to the lax gun laws across the country that studies show allow the the guns to easily be brought HERE).

    I wouldn't worry about the whites who spout 2nd Amendment rights...they are non-participants here, and really secondary problems.

    We have white liberals who choose to not live in Brown Chicago, let alone help the areas..tehy don't live, shop, eat or worship here. 9and, it seems, the youth of Color who have been "successful", but have then chosen to move out of their neighborhoods..and in Chatham, that has been a GENERATION of that happening!

    Also, living in Chatham and lsitening to Black talk Radio...there are MANY African-Americans who are 2nd Amendment type of people. Even the very socially & economically liberal Governor or Talk Radio, WVON's Cliff Kelley, has sounded pro-gun on the air. And certainly many people in my community's meetings have exressed such a sentiment.

    I just want through that out to clarify, and perhaps complicate things -- that the problem is largely than the loudest and clearly out of place voices that we pay attention to .


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