Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Malcolm London, a black activist and poet from my hometown Chicago, has a powerful poem titled after the Idiom Rome wasn’t built in a day, meaning time is necessary to achieve important things. It talks about the glorification of black on black violence in the media and how black bodies are not given the same respect that white bodies are.

London calls the city of Chicago a duplication of Rome, comparing the black men living here to gladiators who fight on a battle field (the streets) where cops don’t care to protect them and news anchors don’t depict them accurately. This refers to the corruption of the Chicago Police Department and the countless incidents of police brutality and general mistreatment by cops, through racial profiling as well as suspicious glares. The majority of gun violence in the city involves minorities in mainly the West and South sides of the city where Black and Hispanic populations live. The discriminatory actions practiced by the cops are reinforced by the mass violence that occurs in poverty stricken areas that media loves to report on, feeding into a largely negative image of Chicago in contrast to the high skyscrapers and glistening lake. Black bodies are shown being shot in Youtube videos and even TV, and neighborhoods are invaded by news reporters after a crime has occurred; their is a blatant disregard towards the emotions and humanity of these people, who are already suffering due to loss of life or their social status.

London addresses the cause of such glorification by many people’s dedication to “black death music”, where rappers talk about gangs and violence like its all fun and games. The hashtag Chiraq which first emerged as a trend on twitter, is popularly known throughout the United States now, comparing Chicago to Iraq because of how pervasive and out of control the violence is. He is wise with his words, stating “the music is louder than a mother cry” and it “profits this colosseum of black boy gladiators celebrated for their carnage.” A lot of Chicago rap music talks about violence as though it is necessary for survival and makes one tougher, but the reality of the situation is that people are dying nearly everyday, and many black people, killed by other black people. And since we are dealing with black-on-black crime, the public image of the violence perpetuates racist ideals and blames these minorities for the negative image Chicago receives in the media.

I highly recommend giving it a listen. (link posted above)




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