Chicago Is More Than a Media Talking Point


Chicago native Joshua Adams writes in a piece at Ebony that the media need to change the conversation about his hometown. Although the city frequently makes headlines because of its spiraling crime rate, media talking points never include the impact of institutional racism on the lives of residents, he says.

Conservatives will bring up violence in Chicago to fuel their narratives about the Black family being in shambles, but cut down any investigation into denied social, economic, or political opportunity for people of color — and [they] are quick to accuse the Black community and our supporters [of] making excuses and playing the victim. Liberals bring it up with the intention to give the Black community their version of  'the hurtful truth.['] Yet this supposed counter-narrative (though often better intentioned and slightly more nuanced) gels with the idea that Black people are invested in blaming racism for 100% of their problems instead of solving them and also gives a pass to the impact that racism has had on the conditions in Chicago and beyond.

What's missing in their analysis is any mention of the history of institutionalized attacks on Black people, such as the public housing practices of not allowing Black fathers to move in with their family (prevalent in the 1950s and 60s in cities like Chicago). There's no call for accountability towards a prison industrial complex sending Black and Brown folks to jail with longer sentences for equal or lesser crimes than any other race. No statistics are presented to show the overreporting of Chicago crime or to combat the many misconceptions about Black on Black crime in general in America. And what's sadder is if their analysis is that shallow, how could they even begin to discuss, let alone understand, the residuals effects from the sadistic, prolonged assault on our people that was chattel slavery?

It's baffling how passionately some can present apathy or lack of context as 'tough love' or 'a reality check.' There's a poisonous logic that the Black people choose to have problems, and that prejudice is merely a response to the Black community's failures, not a pathology that helps create them. If Blacks simply chose to stop being so racially profile-able, so stop-and-friskable, racism would wave the White flag, and post-raciality would parade into America's heart.


Read Joshua Adams' entire piece at Ebony.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.