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Guest Post

Violence vs. Apathy

By Javonna Hines

I attend Temple University in Philadelphia, and almost every time I mention that I am from Chicago I get 2 questions: “Do you know Chief Keef?” and “Have you ever been shot?”

The first couple of times, I chalked it up as just typical ignorance of not being from my city. After the first 50 people I met asked me the same questions, however, it caused me to think about it a bit more. It seems as though the common association with Chicago, among youth, is violence.

Now, being born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Im not going to say that foul things don’t occur, but those misconceptions – from outsiders – really hurt my heart. We Chicagoans feel very passionate about our city. Are we not home of artists such as Common, Lupe, Kanye? Athletes such as Michael Jordan (I know, I know – he was born in Brooklyn. Whatever.) and Derrick Rose?

When did Chief Keef become the poster-boy for Chicago?

I believe that the association with violence in Chicago serves as a commentary on our obsession with violence as a society. Why is the first question you ask regarding violence? Why does that draw the most of your attention? The media thrives off of our obsession and perpetuates the cycle: we crave violence because we are surrounded by images of it and we are surrounded by images of it because we crave it. Nicknames, like “Chiraq” and, even here, “Killadelphia” demonstrate our acceptance, and even pride, of the violent state in which we live.

Those who are not necessarily boastful have taken on an apathetic stance, and this is not just relevant to Chicago. Here in Philly, a local told me, “Everyone is Philly is so angry. Everyone in Philly is so hostile and aggressive. You can’t thrive in Philly, you just have to exist.” This spoke volumes to me about how the binary of violence vs. apathy plagues people of color nation-wide.

In a world in which you must merely “exist”, it is logical for people to either become violent against the system or dormant in society.


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