Chains versus policy

August 12, 2014
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History books have recorded accounts of slavery.

I hear the tales of how bad blacks were treated living in the Jim Crow era.

Mississippi bluesmen have told me about of the great migration and the long road of Interstate 57.

There is a myth that these incidents are not related to the present happenings within inner cities like Chicago.

As if murder rates have nothing to do with disinvestment; or disenfranchisement has nothing to do with the schools to prison pipeline; or the effervescent media demonization of young black males donning locks has nothing to do with kids looking for role models.

There are poltergeists screaming from the grave simply repeating all too common themes of equal opportunities for our children, black children.

Public schools face a crisis that opens the door for charter schools, and unfortunately, children in places like Lawndale, Austin, Garfield Park and Englewood become casualties in political schemes.

Resources are scarce and teachers are burned out, ill-equipped to face the challenges of children exposed to a lifestyle that is all too similar to war-torn countries.

Rappers did not coin the term Chiraq; Journalists did.

Headlines from newspapers comparing the death toll of soldiers in Iraq to the homicide victims in Chicago perpetuated the scandal. Reporters following the J-school mantra of “If it bleeds, it leads” allowed for such a comparison.

You don’t have to tell a dog he is a dog. Common sense psychology says you merely have to treat him like one.

Bulletproof glass in restaurants, abandoned school buildings, patrol officers in uniforms in bunches walking the beat, blocks of foreclosed houses, random gunshots and frequent homicides do not sound like the Chicago of skyscrapers and white privilege.

This angry generation faces the same identity crisis of the debates of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. It is at the very fabric of the promise of 40 acres and a mule.

There is a mental component to this issue. If society treats us as wayward stepchildren and withholds the rights and rewards of being citizens, then some of us are forced to act accordingly.

It is at the heart of Ainsworth, Bowlby and other attachment theorists who argue of the varied responses to children and their caregivers. America is the caregiver to blacks.

The system, a term that so many of my friends use to encapsulate the myriad oppression, is the parent of African Americans. This is the only system we know, and this is the only system we have responded to.

African-Americans are merely the spawns of another American experiment gone wrong. Mass incarceration may have boomed in recent years because of the drug war, but it spiked not long after Emancipation.

Acute mental health centers only serve the pharmaceutical companies. Long-term treatment centers close.

There aren’t the resources to fight the symptoms of a unique post-traumatic experience that repeats itself in waves; the trauma becomes vicarious because we have not experienced slavery or Jim Crow, but the effects of such policies.

The response is more murder, mayhem and a continued fight to be included in the ongoings of this society free from the oppressor’s manipulation. The basic human behavior in a social environment is the response to the policies that govern the district.

Back then there were chains to keep us in check.

Today, it’s policy.

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