I am not here to inform you about Spike Lee's new film. I am here to talk to you about the violence plaguing the city of Chicago, Illinois. I am here to discuss something that is being treated as some type of phenomenon, almost as if it is something unheard of. I am going to take you on a trip through history, a history fraught with failures against the Black community in Chicago. A history of state violence enacted against Black bodies.
|These are soldiers sent to Chicago during the 1919 race riots. The case of the riot took place after a white man threw a stone at Eugene Williams who was swimming on the "Black Side" of a segregated beach. He struck Williams causing him to drown. When the white man responsible for killing Eugene was pointed out by onlookers he was not arrested. This was the cause of the riot.|
So why am I talking about the past in relation to the present violence in Chicago? Because this is a matter of cause and affect. The United States never officially sought to resolve racial tension. The Kerner Commission was created in 1967 (48 years after the Chicago riots) President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed people to a committee to investigate the causes of race riots that were still plaguing cities across the United States.
The Kerner Commission came up with the following suggestions in order to improve black communities:
Needless to say, none of the above happened because it was sixties, and they couldn't afford to invest in improving the Black communities that they initially destroyed, because they had to invest all their money in the Vietnam War. Now fast forward to 2015 and Chicago is a prosperous city however it has the largest gap between the rich and the poor in comparison to any other city in the United States. The South-side of Chicago is one of the most dangerous areas in the United States while simultaneously being one of the poorest. Is this an accident? A coincidence? I think not.
There is no development, no infrastructure, no economic advancement and no improvement in education. In other words, in 2015 forty-eight years after the Kerner Commission's observations in 1967, we still have not sought out to improve the conditions that have created volatile living situations for people of color.
When the media tells you that they have never seen violence of this magnitude in reference to people of color and and intra-racial violence in poor communities, know this, that they are lying (or they have never read a history book a day in their lives). What is happening now in Chicago is a direct result of a history of state violence in which the living conditions of Black people have been systematically ignored. Ghettoes don't just appear, they are manufactured and they are maintained.
What is it that I mean by "state violence"? 1919 Chicago riots are over the unarmed death of a Black men, the white man responsible is not arrested (but all lives matter right?); riots and violence continue to plague Chicago for 48 years after that. In 1967 The Kerner Commission establishes what needs to happen in order to rectify the problem but what happens instead? Projects are constructed in stead of "smaller housing units on scattered sites" they create "publicly built slums". In 2015 48 years after the Kerner Commission the state still hasn't moved an inch to fix a problem that they have created. Instead Chicago has turned into a police state in which they are seeking to increase the amount of police on the streets of Chicago.
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin (1963)
This struggle has never ended, it is a continuous fight.
Lisa Del Sol
Miss World Canada Will Miss Miss World
Miss World Canada Will Miss Miss World
Despite being crowned Miss World Canada in May, Anastasia Lin will not compete in this year's Miss World pageant, which will be held in Sanya, China. Lin never received an invitation letter from the Chinese government in support of her visa request, but still tried to enter the country on Friday, due to a rule that Canadian citizens can obtain a landing visa once in Sanya. But Anastasia Lin was stopped in Hong Kong, barred from boarding her flight and setting foot on Chinese land as retaliation, she claims, for speaking out against human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners China.
Born in Hunan, China, Anastasia Lin moved to Canada with her mother at the age of 13 and grew up to become an actress, model and activist. After winning the Miss World Canada pageant, her family and residents in her hometown of Changsha were elated and proud of her. But the high from her success was quickly dampened - her outspokenness on religious freedom and human rights in China became an issue. News about her, anything that mentioned her human rights advocacy started disappearing because of censorship. Lin's father, who lives in China, began receiving threats from the government and told her to stop her advocacy for Falun Gong practitioners or he would have to cease contact with her.
Falun Gong or Falun Dafa, is a repressed and persecuted spiritual practice from China that was first taught in 1992. Despite the initial support it retained early in its inception, Falun Gong soon grew too strong, too large, and too independent for government officials and security organizations. By 1999, the number of people who practiced Falun Gong was approximately 70,000,000, and the popularity of this group was seen as a threat to the government. So in turn, the Chinese government led a campaign against the practice and banned it, deeming it heretical organization. The government banned books that taught Falun Gong and censored any Internet mentions of the practice. Before long, Falun Gong practitioners became subject to severe human rights abuses - imprisonment, torture, forced labor, and more. Thousands of these people have died under such conditions, many of them becoming organ harvest sources for China's organ transplant industry.
As an activist and Falun Gong practitioner herself, Anastasia Lin is not surprised that she was refused entry to Sanya, as her advocacy would be far too close for the Chinese government's comfort. Still, she refuses to shy away from speaking on the injustices against Falun Gong practitioners. The threats her father received in May did not stop her then, and being prohibited from competing in China will not stop her now. Miss World Canada may miss the pageant, but she won't miss out on telling the world her truth and remaining a fearless activist for her people.