Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Spike Lee Ready to Release Chi-Raq

Overnight the newest Spike Lee Joint trailer hit the interwebs. Chi-raq. The movie stirred up controversy over the summer while it was shooting in the windy city, because of course CPD and Rahm-bo weren't down with the negative portrayal of their city. However, the negativity in the movie only mirrors the violent headlines coming out of Chicago on what seems like a daily basis.

The latest headline out of Chicago causing all types of gasps, and pearl clutching, and "pray for this baby/pray for our babies" statuses on Facebook, Twitter and the 'Gram are over a 9-year-old boy who was shot several times at close range. Tyshawn Lee was executed on the South Side city streets near his grandmother's home in retaliation for gang violence allegedly involving his father.

There is not a week that goes by that this South Side of Chicago native does not see the headlines from her home town and shake her head at the computer screen. But there will be no protests for Tyshawn. Just as there were no protests for the countless other children killed in Chicago over gang violence that didn't involve them. But maybe this movie will be the protest for Derrion Albert, or Hadiya Pendleton, and the other children from infants to 18 of whom I can't remember their names because there are so many. Maybe this movie will finally tell their story through the tale of Lysistrata.

Chi-raq takes dark comedy to a new level. The premise of the movie is chuckle worthy: no sex until the bangers put the guns down, but in a city that has tried everything but a mass punany strike, it's almost like not a bad idea.

I grew up on Chicago's South Side, afraid of the West Side because I heard the violence on the West Side was worst than my side of the city. Folks on the West Side feel the same about the South Side. Now, more than 10 years removed from the city that birthed me I realize that no side is "safe." 

In an age where #BlackLivesMatter only references the lives of Black boys lost to overly aggressive police officers and vigilantes of the hegemony, I have a hard time not nodding my head in agreement with some who believe #BlackLivesMatter fails to address the widespread and rampant problem of black on black violence in urban areas all across America with Chicago being ground zero. 

On its face I know #BlackLivesMatter is calling attention to our racist criminal justice system, the irreparable disregard for black lives by anyone other than black people, and the prison industrial system. I know the hashtag activism of #BlackLivesMatter is focusing on the shark of the issue in efforting to hold police, prosecutors, and neighborhood watchmen who believe they have a right to stand their ground accountable for their reckless actions against Black men, women, girls and boys who do not resist arrest but are body slammed in class or in swim suits, or shot and killed by police officers who do not identify themselves, or laugh when you tell them you're choking and can't breathe.

But for every Corey Jones, and Trayvon Martin, and Jordan Davis, and Eric Garner, and Walter Scott, and Eric Harris, and Mike Brown, and Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice there is a Tyshawn Lee. For Every Rekia Boyd, Renisha McBride, and Sandra Bland there is a Hadiya Pendleton. 

There are no hashtag activists on the Chicago city blocks on the South Side or West Side, just mothers praying for their babies, praying for the city's babies, hoping they don't know the latest victim to make the headlines. The warriors of Chi-Raq are making more than headlines now, they're making movies. Hopefully, Chicago's over wrought blood shed on the big screen will inspire more than just a conversation about sending the National Guard to the second city. But then like a Black boy gunned down on my south side city streets, who has ever complained about violence in a movie? 

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