Black Chicago Divided

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  • A 17-year-old West Sider who goes to the Gold Coast to intimidate and steal (“We can get good stuff down there,” he says; “You can’t get no iPods or nothing like that on the West Side”).
  • A black nationalist activist who advocates concealed carry legislation to allow the black community to defend itself against crime.

Along with a range of activists from Chicago’s black community, these are some of the voices in Salim Muwakkil’s “Black Chicago Divided,” discussing long-smoldering class and generational conflicts that are intensifying as conditions worsen in communities like North Lawndale.

With devastating unemployment and crime rates, North Lawndale faces an “emergency situation,” says Mark Carter of Voice of the Ex-Offender.  Carter focuses on confronting established civil rights and black political leaders.  “The death and destruction in our community could not have happened without the black leadership elite’s cooperation,” he says.

Among the topics raised are Mayor Emanuel’s police redeployment efforts – many in the black community say “the mayor is taking aggressive action only  because most of the victims are white,” while the areas most in need continue to be neglected – and the shortfalls in a federal program to direct HUD spending to low-income workers and business.  (WBEZ’s Natalie Moore recently reported on complaints about HUD’s Section 3 program.)

“Black Chicago Divided” is the first in a series of in-depth features by Muwakkil, a senior editor at In These Times, investigating the lives of those African-American youth who have borne the brunt of the Great Recession; their plight is particularly acute in de-industrializing, segregated Chicago, Muwakkil says.

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