PIECE IS POWER?: CHI-RAQ




This is my response to the movie “Chi-raq”.

So I am at home today watching Spike Lee’s “Chi-raq” on Amazon Prime.  Now, I love Spike Lee.  My favorite movie of his is “School Daze.”  I will continue to support him even with the huge problems presented within this movie “Chi-raq.”

I enjoyed the fact that it SEEMED (because I never been there) to capture the culture of the inner cities of Chicago, where many shootings have occurred within the last 15 years.  I did not like the death toll comparison to special forces soldiers killed in other countries during the same period.  The fallacy of relevancy is damning to these comparisons.

As well, those death toll stats for oversea combatants do not include the civilian men, women, and children that were victimized by those same special forces or the opposing forces.  The stats include grown men who CHOSE to fight for our country and then were deployed to fight in the countries mentioned by the movie.  It excluded civilian men, women, and children who were violated, shot, mutilated, left homeless, and mentally scared by our special forces and the opposing forces.

Check this out…

https://www.iraqbodycount.org/

The men who commit this violence in Chicago often are not sanctioned by government parties.  They are not fighting for territory (in the sense that they legally own it and are taxed for it).  They are not victims of violence like citizens who are caught in the cross fire overseas.  These are men who have engulfed themselves in a war with opposing groups for territory that they can not build upon, use for common commerce, and will probably never have their name upon except for graffiti.  Which, like blood, can be washed away or painted over.  However, from what I hear and read, it is not about territory as much as it is about revenge and “get back”.  Again, these men make up for most of the loss that we see in Chicago, IL.

There is no comparison to the mini wars that occurred over seas.  The name “Chi-raq” is a slap in the face to the 1000s of civilians lives lost in wars that were overseas.  Nonetheless, by AMERICAN standards, the loss of life seems comparable to the loss of life overseas.  Hence, the name “Chi-raq”.  To me, the term over-simplifies and dismisses a lot of factors that goes into the multiple murders that occurs within Chicago.  The term CHI-RAQ others Chicago.

Think about it?!

When you think of the term IRAQ, do you see a state that holds a populated metropolis with a massive infrastructure where multitudes of families live (Which is what IRAQ is)?  Has the media allowed you to see Iraq as more than just a war zone?

Think about your perception of IRAQ and then think about why we coined the phrase “Chi-raq” for a city here in America.

A city that has one of the largest infrastructures in the USA and the highest population rates that ranks in the top three cities in the USA is reduced to what the media considered the most dangerous war zones in the 00’s.  This is a slap in the face of those who live in the communities where this violence takes place.  THIS OCCURS IN AMERICA.  This violence is not overseas, these are not empty faces that we see on the TV screens, and this is not based on a war of religion, freedoms, power (real power).  This is an American city with an unresolved murder spree that happens to take place in predominately black areas.

NOW LET’S GET TO THE MEAT AND POTATOES….PIECE

The story arc of “Chi-raq” is that the women prevent violence among the city of Chicago by withholding their PIECE from the men.  NO PEACE NO PIECE.

CLEARLY THIS IS SEXIST.  The defense for this is that this worked for those in Liberia, Africa to end the second Liberian Civil War.  Women refused sex until the violence stopped and it resolved the issue of violence.  However, the culture in this African nation is completely different from the culture in America. We would need to evaluate the understanding of the role of women in that country.  We need to understand the political and legal power of women in Liberia.

As well, the sex strike was not an all-encompassing part of the movement.  There were various aspects of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace.  There were marches and protest to end the violence between the various units.  There were shut in, sit ins, and human chains done to prevent violence (Navaroo, 2011).  While withholding sex was a part of the protest, it was not the main point.

Of course, the American translation wants to speak to the culture of hip hop that supposedly encompasses the youth of Chicago in regards to this violence.  It is the same culture that objectified women and places great value on them based solely on the fact that they have a vagina.  Oftentimes, placing value on their vagina solely.  However, you can not combat misogyny by using misogyny.

This movie promotes the idea that the only value that black women have towards black men in regards to power is their vagina.  Women are capable of speaking up and protesting the violence in other ways oppose to withholding sex.  But, this fits into the AMERICAN heteronormative narrative that men need sex from women and the most valuable thing from a woman is their sex.  It truly reduces the role of women in their men’s lives in a nation that is so sophisticated.

You know what men enjoy the most?  Freedom.  Take that away from them and they may see the light.  Rehabilitate them in the process and it may change a community.

Women like Frances Cress-Wellsing and Angela Davis spoke out against violence and made a difference.  Their vagina had little to do with the changes that they caused.  Their voices alone were to transform and edify.  They were arguably one of the most influential voices when it came to criminal justice, violence, and the black body.  And they did not have to use their vagina to get this change.

You can tell this was a hetero cis man’s attempt to create a movie around the power of female-identified members of the black community.

NICE TRY THOUGH!

The movie did a lot of good.  I think that this satirical stand point was a great way to point out to the fact that there are other groups within the black community that hold power to help end violence among men.  However, this is dated.  But I live in Atlanta, GA, which can be deemed as pretty progressive for the most part.  Women I grew up with were strong and independent.  I am gay and let all boyfriends that any crazy shit will not be tolerated.  I will not be around that kind of shit.  POINT BLANK PERIOD.

Maybe I am just lacking the experience or context that is needed to fully understand what this movie was trying to portray.  And outside of the misogyny and the promotion of the word “Chi-Raq”, it did justice for the issue of gun violence within Chicago, the socio-economic issues, the influence of music, promotion of the lifestyle that lead to the end of many lives in Chicago, and the prison-industrial complex.

Cmortalx/Carter

Atlanta Native

References:

Navarro, K. 2010. Liberian women act to end civil war, 2003.  Retrieved from https://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/liberian-women-act-end-civil-war-2003