The Neglect of South Chicago

Translated  by Marvin Najarro 

South Chicago is a symbol of decay; it is a great city collapsing, deteriorated streets, buildings about to collapse on the heads of the tenants who, in their vast majority are Afro descendants and undocumented Latin Americans: Mexicans and Central Americans badly paid, exploited in their jobs, stigmatized and constantly harassed by police.

South Chicago seems like a science fiction movie; those futuristic movies that show the end of humanity. Very similar to the decay of the border towns between Mexico and the United States where the only things that abound there are bullets, bars, kidnappings, and houses or warehouses where they hide the migrants going to the United States. Those dust clouds that in summer dry the lips at noon and in winter the windstorms that freeze the blood.

South Chicago is the shame of a system that forgets and uses the most wretched of the social classes; of South of Chicago there are no postcards, documentaries, films or reports of successful characters, as in the north. There are no statues of illustrious children. There are no gardens resembling football fields, and as smooth as pool tables. There are no remote control gates, no mansions with security cameras or clean and paved streets. There are no big parks where the children, forgotten and stigmatized by the system and society, can play.

From South Chicago there are only reports of red zones, robberies, deaths among gangs, violent teenagers, single mothers, girls who sleep with anyone in exchange for a chill pill, a marijuana cigarette, a line of cocaine or for a huffing. Girls, who are perceived as criminals because they do not attend school; because they have to take care of their siblings, are pregnant, engaged in sex work or because they have to work hard to provide for their children, brothers or grandparents.

Children, who are labeled as murderers because they walk around the streets aimlessly; lost in the mists of time. By virtue of a system which has mistreated them, they do not know each other, they do not know who they are, and are used by the criminal gangs run from the North where the homes of the affluent are ubiquitous. Children who lost all hope for a different future and who after having been used are put in jail by the same people who exploited them, so they do not get in the way and then more children can be recruited. Children with no childhood and adolescence who will become wrecked adults, wounded, paranoid, and addicted.

South Chicago is the reality of the South of every American state. The same picture, the same method; the capital system constantly harms the weakest and exterminates them. It rips out their soul, transforms them into murderers, drug addicts, and disgraces them for generations.

During election time South Chicago becomes a hot issue, a constant theme in the debates: police, police and clamp down, say the fascists. No matter what party they belong to, they are fascists!

There is no talk of schools, parks, recreational and rehabilitation programs, hospitals, labor rights. There is no talk of promotion of human dignity.

However, the South of Chicago, like all the Souths of the world, has that unwavering resistance and the dignity that makes the heart, even if mortally wounded, keep beating, pumping blood to every artery where there are children dreaming of a better future, even if the buildings where they sleep are about to crush them and the streets where they walk are full of needles and used condoms. Even if the schools do not have the infrastructure and material that will provide them with better tools; even if the parks are fields cover with mud; even if the stigma always accompanies them. Even if the police harass them because their color or their origin or because they do not speak English or because they lack the documents identifying them as legal residents of the country.

The South of Chicago is the other truth of what capitalism really is. And each state of the country has its own South; there are hundreds of Souths screaming to the world the reality of capitalism; and the reality, too, of the resistance of the marginalized who will never give up.

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Ilka Oliva Corado @ilkaolivacorado


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