“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” – James Baldwin
Dear Chicago, you have blood on your hands. Innocent blood. The blood of our fathers, the blood of our murdered sons. Thick Black blood that runs.
Sick rivers of blood and Black tears that ripple beneath a sinking blood-red sun and the ghosts of Black corpses, and tons of carnage from before the bloody Red Summer of 1919, and beyond. From Eugene Williams, 17, to the stoning on the South Side of Dr. King.
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Blood. The blood of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, of Rekia Boyd, and all those souls that linger in the shadows of this twinkling city long after dark, crying: “Justice.”
Can you hear them? Can you see them? Or are you too jaded, too calloused, too filled with malice to be touched by this human atrocity?
Too arrogant to repent of sins, neglect and systemic design that created this 21st century calamity? Too stiff-necked and conscience-seared to commit to seeking remedies?
A pity for this city, which engineered the modern skyscraper on marshy ground. City that found a way to reverse the flow of a whole damn river. City of a million and one video cameras but still can’t find the damn killers.
Shimmering tourist city of summer fests, conventions and glorious parades, of Lollapalooza and master of this game of Chi-charades that hides the true Tale of Two Cities: one white, the other Brown and Black. One filled to the brim, the other languishing in a canyon of lack.
And this is among the truths that our fair city cannot bear, though it glares like the pain of a thousand mothers’ eyes, amid the ghastly and piercing cries that emanate from far beyond Chicago’s Gold Coast. From some bloodstained corner on Chicago’s Cold Coast. On the other side of the tracks, where life treads on thin ice, and upon whose inhabitants this cold cold city long ago turned its back.
Dear Chicago, O Promised Land, where preachers lie. City where few “men of God” still speak truth to power and have grown deaf to the cry. The cry of the streets, the poor and needy. Greedy for profits, some have abandoned the “calling” of the prophet. Exchanged truth and the precious Gospel for milquetoast sermons, for prosperity doctrine and spiritual magic. Name it-claim it—poof! So tragic.
The people perish. Politicians cherish power. Protect the status quo. Cower in the hour of truth. Kowtow and kiss the political ring. Look the other way when dirty deals are cut. Democracy frays at the seams.
It is as American as apple pie. The embodiment of the great American lie: The ideals of equal justice and liberty, which stand inexplicably in conflict with the daily reality of life in America that makes Black souls weary. Let me state this clearly:
My soul is tired, so damn tired.
And my journey as a Black man in America filled with continual angst as I shudder at the evil of my beloved country’s hypocrisy. An America that will shoot me seven times in the back then turn around and blame me. This is our daily reality.
I live in an America that is vehement in its outspokenness and abhorrence of my violence against her violence against me but will stand deaf, dumb and blind as my charred Black body dangles from a tree.
And I am native son to Chicago, who, at the passing of each summer, shrugs her shoulders over the perennial tragedy of Black bodies and Black blood filling her streets. And turns her back on people who look like me.
I see. And I’m so damn angry these days — almost to the point of rage.
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