The following post originally appeared on The Nommo Gathering Black Writers Collective, a Chicago-based group of writers. The group was founded by writer/activist Stephanie Gadlin, and includes a host of authors, poets, playwrights and other creatives. The post appears under the original title, “10 Reasons Why You Can’t ‘Stop the Violence’ in Black Chicago.”

By: Nommo Writers

  1. Violence in Chicago has been normalized as a justified means of resolving conflict among groups and individuals. This notion is reinforced by the U.S. Govt.’s frequent invading and destruction of other nations it is in disagreement. Violence is the normalized response among people in contact in the United States and has been since the founding of this nation in 1776. The 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states people have the right to self-defense and to bear arms (own guns, knives, etc.); and in Chicago people can own weapons, conceal them and use them in acts of aggression. It is up to the courts to decide who was the true aggressor and the warranted threat level.
  2. Violence has developed into a “subculture,” in Chicago neighborhoods based on the actions of individuals who are organizing against the violence and aggression of other organized people. Normally called “gangs,” these groups of individuals vary from block to block, neighborhood to neighborhood. Some are well organized. Others are not. These citizens are organizing to protect themselves from other blocks of citizens who are organizing to protect themselves against the perceived or real aggression of other citizens. So, why are these individuals in fear of each other? And, how is that fear transmitted from block to block? What role does the police play in transmitting and promoting a climate of fear and aggression? We must stop saying that this violence is “senseless,” because it make perfect “sense” to the one pulling the trigger, throwing the fist, kicking in the door and slapping the taste out of someone’ mouth.
  3. Violence will continue in Chicago as long as the city’s criminal justice system is mired in corruption, inefficiency and an overtaxed workforce. In a city of 2.7 million there are only 13,000 police officers. There are cops who beat up citizens; bare false witness against citizens; plant guns on citizens; violate the human and civil rights of citizens; and kill citizens who are unarmed and posed no threat regardless of age. Because of the pervasive culture of police corruption in Chicago, citizens impacted by those tactics to not trust the police will protect them or serve them at all.
  4. Violence is glamorized through popular culture, including on Clear Channel radio stations that continue to put into rotation hundreds of songs that glorify the killing of (mostly) young Black people; the pimping of (mostly) young Black women; and the abandoning of (mostly) small Black children. Psychologists have already told you repeatedly that music impacts your thinking. If you can play a love song to “put you in the mood,” you can play a hate song to also “put you in the mood.” The lyrics of music that you listen to over and over and over and over and over have a brainwashing affect. Our youth and young adults (18-34) are being brainwashed into self-destruction.
  5. Violence is promoted all day, everyday: Tune into most corporate owned television programs, cable TV shows, films and video and they are rife with violent actions—many of which are sexual in nature. Violence has been made sexy. The outlaw is made sexy. Killing becomes cool. Death is promoted as the answer to all one’s problems. Tune out these images. Reject any manipulation of your thinking that pushes you to think you’re better off dead than being alive.
  6. Violence breeds vulnerability in the neighborhoods as a direct result of destabilization. Poor people are exposed to inadequate access to child care, health care, mental health services, quality food, quality and stable housing, a lack of transportation; few jobs; few opportunities for self-employment (beyond the underground economies); and under resources schools. Therefore, most of the stress in our neighborhoods is directly related to political, economic and social policies enacted by the government like City Hall, Cook County and the State of Illinois.
  7. Gun Violence continues because of easy access to guns on the underground market. The Chief of Police admitted that most of the “illegal” gun trafficking in the city comes from guns bought, sold and redistributed right here in Illinois. Who is buying all of these high powered weapons? In what alleys are they pulling up and opening the trunks of their cars? From what home or business are these guns being sold? Can’t the government track those purchases? They certainly keep holding press conference displaying all of the guns they’ve taken off the streets. Where did the guns come from? Who bought them? Who had them? Where did they get them from?
  8. Violence continues because you cannot “stop violence.” You can resolve and stop conflict. The state directs people into using worn out, simplified slogans, such as “Put Down the Guns,” and “Stop the Violence,” and “Stop the Killing,” when it knows that all violence is not the same; all criminal behavior is not the same; all conflict is not motivated by the same factors; and people lack the ability to predetermine who is about to engage in a violent act solely for just imagining they may do so.  In other words, if a person intends to shoot up a laundromat because he believes a person who shot into his window is inside unless someone has fore-knowledge that this crime is about to happen there is no way anyone can “stop that violent” act of aggression. Therefore, resources and energies would be better spent on identifying and eliminating the root of these conflicts. This requires actually talking to citizens, listening to people and helping them resolve these situations in a timely manner before they escalate into violence.

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