“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe”
― Frantz Fanon
This month, Chicago has demonstrated yet again why it is indeed a tale of two cities.
On Saturday, April 15th hundreds of Black teens gathered in downtown Chicago to take in the sites and experiences that are routinely promoted to entice thousands of tourists every day. The young people ventured out of their segregated and divested neighborhoods in search of outdoor fun, recreation, and a chance to enjoy our unseasonal good weather.
This was all a part of a “trend,” an all-inclusive, unorganized, unofficial meet-up spot shared via social media. There is no screening for participants, no entry fee or password, no check in process, nor hired chaperones or security personnel. It is by and large youth led and attended.
Videos posted online of the trend, shows a majority of teens standing around as spectators with camera phones out, dozens dancing within circles, laughing, pointing, and walking aimlessly. Typical teen behavior. At the same time, there were a number of teens engaged in destructive behaviors including jumping on vehicles, obstructing traffic, and fighting. Unfortunately, there were some incidences of violence as well. Fifteen of the young people were arrested, and two were shot.
On that same day, hundreds of sports fans gathered at the Guaranteed Rate stadium for a Chicago White Sox game. While the majority of spectators were focused on the game and enthusiastic energy, dozens took part in a violent melee hitting, tackling, and dragging other people in the stands as small children were shown hysterically crying. There has been no mention of arrests or involvement of law enforcement.
If you Google either incident, you will see that only one of these situations made local headline news for multiple cycles over multiple days. Only one used a narrative that generalized and condemned the entire crowd. And only one used animalistic adjectives to describe subjects.
This is Chicago. It happens every year, whether raucous Black teens in downtown or White fans at sports stadiums and parades. It must be noted that this is by design. And we must ask who this continuous narrative benefits? Media literacy 101!
It is why GLMPI has convened public forums to explore how Chicago can help foster and organize safe spaces for Black teens to experience their city in its totality as both recreation and economic stimulants. This has been a strong focus far back as 2016 when GLMPI hosted the first of many On The Table forums sponsored by Chicago Community Trust.
Our response was to expand our programming and offer Summer activities that not only expose our girls to the full city, but works as a rites of passage program.
I believe our greatest challenge is generational. The symptoms of which are manifested in our young people. Yet, if we rejected the sensationalized narratives found in the dominant media; we would realize this problem is festering in our homes, schools, and communities before our young people ever make it north of Roosevelt Road.
One thing I know for sure, is that this is the outcome of systematic divestment, abuse, and neglect. It is a product of the policies and laws that have crippled and in many cases has mutilated our families and traditions.
None of us will escape nor circumvent the consequences, however we must all contribute to the solutions. All hands on deck. There is no measure nor deed that is too small. Further, it requires deep healing for EVERYONE in our community, and Black people in general. The years of racism, enslavement, and poverty has left us collectively with either Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACSES), addictions, depression, and/or other mental health related issues.
Too often we look to the sources of these debilitative factors for our solution. But the truth is WE ARE OUR OWN SOLUTION! WE ARE WHO WE ARE WAITING FOR!
This is why GLMPI has held fast to our mission to begin with self realization and reimagining of the media. It is why we have centered healing as a part of our delivery services. It is why we have embraced an intergenerational connection.
I invite you to read our newsletter fully to learn more about our solutions. We welcome you to the cause and look forward to working alongside you and with your support.
Books to help us understand the historical context to this challenge are:
Mis-Education of the Negro, Carter G. Woodson
Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery, Dr. Na’im Akbar
The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon
Dr. Carl Bell
Dr. Barbara Sizemore