A City by Any Other Name

The Saint Sabina church and other area churches offer a reward at the site where Tyshawn Lee, 9, was fatally shot in Chicago'
The Saint Sabina church and other area churches offer a reward at the site where Tyshawn Lee, 9, was fatally shot in Chicago's Gresham neighborhood on Monday. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

Tyshawn Lee, nine years old, was murdered in Gresham.

Spike Lee released a trailer for "Chi-raq."

I recall commiserating with thugs in Fifth City.

I knew people that lived in Moe-town.

I felt comfortable with the Unknown Vice Lords in Holy City.

In L-town, I learned the difference between soft-yellow and hard crack.

I suffer with the conflict of fellowshipping under the glow of a yellow Belmonte Liquor store sign on Chicago Avenue and Lavergne Avenue versus feeling like a sellout.

Call it Chiraq, Fifth City, Holy City, The Hole, K-town, Moe-town, The Circle, or L-Town, you will get the same version of events with different characters under the blue and white bars with four red stars that make up the symbol of this metropolis.

The real reason for the blowback of the title of Spike Lee's movie has nothing to do with the usual criticism.

Most critics didn't financially benefit.

I know L-Town all too well, when those Four Corner Hustlers and Unknown Vice Lords terrorized communities in the 90s with gunshots synonymous with school bells; grandmothers scared to walk to the corner store to play lottery; visiting loved ones at 26th and California was the norm.

I recall when a number of Cicero Insane Vice Lords "flipped" Mafia Insane Vice Lord or when a number of Unknown Vice Lords "flipped" Cicero Insane Vice Lord. The gunfire to follow could only be matched by Israel and Palestine.

I have heard the crisp, clear, bellow, thunders of a 9 mm semi auto, walked over the empty vials and still stood on the block in the yellow flames of the fire.

As an anthropological participant and observer, I watched recidivism rates firsthand. I wrote letters and sent money to Cook County Jail.

I watched people that I knew become soul-less temples buried in pine boxes or zombies addicted to the very product that they once took pride in pushing.

Call this city by any other name and you can still smell the iron in the blood cells that once soaked the concrete.

You can witness the grandchildren of the crack and heroin generations wreak havoc because of the absence of hope. These war-torn babies experience a post -traumatic stress unique to the casualties of the war on drugs--the victims of the Reagan administration's push of crack into black communities, the reformation of the welfare state of Clinton, or Hoover's Cointelpro.

I hear the rhetoric of the absence of black men to lead communities.

Have you checked the disproportionate conviction rates of black men?

Can you recall leaders like Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Edvars, Herbert Lee, or countless, nameless others?

Any time a black leader ascends to a role of social relevance, he is assassinated.

That long ingrained fear is similar to asking current day teenagers to fist fight rather than pick up a gun.

You are better off attempting to curb short hand texts or Alcohol Fetal Syndrome, a theory posed by Dr. Carl Bell.

The system that bred a behavior cannot be appalled by the people who internalize said treatment. That is "blaming the victim."

What did you think would happen with the kids that were the product of teen pregnancy and AIDS in the 90s?

Did you think that these kids would disappear, die? No!

Welcome to Chiraq!

"Bang, bang!"