Disaster Capitalism Takes On Chicago

04/30/2014 04:58 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2014

Whether it is union organizing, the mafia, gang violence, riots, police brutality or race relations, Chicago has a long history when it comes to violent behavior.

Despite what most media outlets worldwide have been saying, violence in the Windy City isn't exactly breaking news.

Over the Easter holiday weekend, 45 people were shot. The count includes six children. One of those kids, Tymisha Washington, begged for her life, according to DNAinfo Chicago.

"Please don't let me die. I'm only 11 years old. Don't let me die," she told a neighbor.

Predictably, the mayor and the police, along with the people in the communities where the violence is happening, are asking themselves what can be done to stop the violence.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel questioned the values of the people who are hurting their communities with violence.

"It's whether you have values. Values do not matter only in warm weather," the mayor told reporters. "They matter every day."

The mayor is correct in questioning the values of gangbangers, drug dealers and such. However, some of his own "values" can be questioned as well.

Last week, the mayor called a press conference announcing plans to build a college prep high school named after President Obama. The proposed site, which is near where the Cabrini Green Housing Projects once stood, is less than one mile from Walter Payton College Prep.

One can ask why yet another college prep high school is being built north of Roosevelt Road.

The placement of the school is yet another slap in the face to the city's African-American community.

Why can't a school named after the nation's first African-American president reside in the neighborhoods he represented in the state senate? Or nearby where he was a community organizer?

The moves the mayor is making can get people thinking about a term called disaster capitalism.

Disaster capitalism occurs when profits are generated based on the occurrence of a disaster.

Some might say that public housing, along with public education, has been an abject failure in our city. A colleague of mine went as far as to say that "The North Side gets college preps while the South Side gets charters."

Are all options exhausted when the mayor makes these decisions regarding the city?

"Boots on the ground" might be a term that most Chicagoans will have to get familiar with.

Some say the National Guard should get involved to quell the violence. That won't work. Just like the Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East, the people here won't stop the violence because the military says so. How is a kid from downstate going to know the difference between a gangbanger and a law-abiding citizen? All the mistakes that the military made during Operation Iraqi Freedom will most likely be repeated if the National Guard is brought to Chicago.

After all, we've already seen how that turned out.

The problems the city is having are systemic in nature. These problems will not go away overnight.

Some say the lack of jobs is at the root of the violence. That is a plausible argument. For instance, look no further than the east side of the city where the steel mills once were. When an industry goes down, so does the neighborhood.

For that reason alone, Chicagoans should lay off the Detroit jokes. That might be us if we don't get our s--t together.

Substandard education, the lack of political power and minimal resources are other reasons people like to use when getting to the bottom of the city's problems. However, these conversations are starting to get redundant.

Remember, the city's citizens have had this conversation in the past when things were worst.

According to a 1998 article written in the Chicago Tribune:

"Since 1965, Chicago averaged 768 murders each year. In 1988, the number dropped to 660, but then rose steadily until it reached 940 in 1992, second only to the total in 1974, when 970 were slain. That 1992 figure was even more distressing because, in 1974, the population of the city was significantly larger."

Even though there were more murders way back when, the shootings these days get more attention because of the amount of children shot.

Especially ones from African-American communities.

According to a study done by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Research Center, during the years of 2000 to 2010, over 29,000 children and adolescents between the ages of 0 and 19, were killed by a firearm in the United States. The study goes on to say:

"For intentional non-fatal firearm injuries due to assault, black children and adolescents in Chicago are 21 times more likely than whites to be hospitalized and 15 times more likely to visit the ED. For unintentional non-fatal firearm injuries, black children and adolescents in Chicago are 23 times more likely than whites to be hospitalized and 19 times more likely to visit the ED."

Mayor Emanuel may have had all the best intentions when he participated in the docuseries Chicagoland. He knows what certain images can do. The show has scenes of African-Americans, from the teachers' union to community activists, yelling at him. The next scene shows the mayor hugging or a patting a kid on the head. One episode showed the mayor attending a basketball tournament in Auburn-Gresham. What the show left out was that the mayor was roundly booed.

The cherry-picking of images can lead someone to believe that a "white savior" complex is taking place on the show.

Although the CNN show does a good job of showing the effects of institutional racism, some still believe that isn't the problem.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, and several of his colleagues, seem to believe that racism no longer exists.

Chief Justice Roberts once said this about school segregation: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor used Chief Justice Roberts' words when she wrote her dissent expressing her disappointment in the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision last week: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination."

Justice Sotomayor's comments can be applied to what is going on in Chicago.

Racial discrimination is at the root of most of the city's problems. Detractors of that premise often say, "Why can't they get over it?"

In most cases, people haven't been allowed to do so.