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keef

The everydayness of gun-crime in America has long been a cause of great confusion (and in some cases, schadenfruende) in Europe, with the rates reported in cities like New York and Los Angeles seeming more appropriate to a Lesotho shanty-town than a bustling superpower, studded with skyscrapers.

But in reality, gun-crime is not really an American issue at all, but a peculiarly African-American one. ‘White’ states like Oregon and Washington have very low rates of crime and violence, while Black-heavy states like Georgia and Louisiana have rates well above the national average.

And of all African-American population centres, it is the city of Chicago, Illinois that makes for the most alarming case. This brilliant city, steeped in wealth and literary renown, is witness to an dizzying number of violent felonies, with the year 2012 clocking up 507 murders (by far the highest number in the United States), most of them committed with a firearm.

Many of the perpetrators and victims of these crimes are children; almost all of them having been trapped beforehand in a force-field of invented difference and meaningless rivalry. You’re from that neighbourhood, so why are you here? Boom! You’re meant to ride with us, so why do you wear that colour around your neck? Boom! And so on… This shocking rate of crime, coupled with the number of completed murders has led to the city acquiring the nickname ‘Chiraq’ – a portmanteau of Chicago and Iraq.

Most of these killings occur in a district of the city known as the ‘South Side’, made up of predominantly Black and poor neighbourhoods. Here, crack-cocaine manufacturing gangs are known to control the streets, and on occasion ‘provide security’ to whole tower blocks. Snitching on these makeshift police will only invite a swift demise. Failing to sign up to your local ‘clique’ (or ‘click’ – by the traditions of gang illiteracy) typically invites bullying, manipulation, shunning and possibly worse.

The culture of the South-Side is dominated by music; specifically a dark and violent sub-genre of Hip-Hop known as ‘Drill’ music. This trend was popularised by local artist Chief Keef, whose YouTube videos typically display the singer (and his friends) waving firearms at a cheap camera.

Keef (real name Keith Cozart) is known to have committed uncountable offenses in the city and has been directly accused of murder by the mother of one of the South Side’s child victims. His lyrics include barely-concealed references to homicide.

Among those who associate with Keef are an ignoble crew of villains and murderers. The video below depicts Keef’s collaborator and relative ‘Lil Reese’ beating up a young woman (for example):

Such practical misogyny is far from exceptional. Within Drill lyricism, a terrible emphasis is placed on ‘team sex’; a practice in which one’s entire ‘clique’ has sex with a single woman one after the other. For example, the lyrics of ‘Lil Mouse’ (who was 12 at the time of composition) include ‘If you wanna fuck me, then fuck the team”, while Chief Keef raps “You’re bitch won’t do the team? (I) bet she won’t fight!” – note that in the latter case, the boundary between consent and assault is terrifyingly blurred.

The life-expectancy of Chicagoan rappers has collapsed in recent years, with many aspiring musicians being snuffed out before their time. The rapper LA Capone, whose best-known songs include ‘Murder’ (the chorus – ‘Murder me? It’s unheard of’) was gunned down in 2012. His collaborator ‘Rondonumbanine’ was later arrested for murdering a taxi driver said to have been involved in Capone’s death. Chief Keef’s cousin ‘Blood Money’ was assassinated in 2013 by rival gang members.

So strong is the whirlwind of nihilism affecting Chicago, many of its rappers perish barely having had the chance to establish themselves. A small, baby-faced child calling himself ‘Lil JoJo’ made a nightmarish video (below) trolling the rival ‘Black Disciples’ gang (of which Keef, Capone, Reese and Blood money are or were members). He was killed within a month.

Drill’s popularity radiates far beyond its homeland. Outside of Illinois, young African-Americans compete with each other to imitate the criminals of Chicago. The black thug responsible for the bestial murder of Christopher Lane (a race-hate killing even if the media pretends otherwise) quoted Chief Keef on Twitter (“I’m with my niggas when it’s time to start taking lives”) the day before he and his friends committed the homicide.

In the established worldview of racist thinking, Black Africans represent the lowest tier of humanity and a biological fusion of human and pre-human. In doing the research for this post, I have myself felt the twitch of racist emotion; a heavy, slightly burning anger supported with a sentimental fear for the future. Should the numbers of these people be contained? Should segregation be considered?

I now see the world back in focus. Black people are as varied as any other race. There are Black professionals, Black thugs and innumerable varieties in-between. Nevertheless, the West must be firm about the issue of tribal violence. It simply doesn’t belong in this part of the world. Chicago’s children, women and law-abiding citizenry deserve better.

D, LDN.

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