The Dark Side of Life in Englewood


The rapper Lil Durk grew up in Englewood, a crime-ridden neighborhood of South Chicago. The Wikipedia article on Lil Durk describes his life as imbued with the culture of his neighborhood. During Durk's childhood, his father went to prison to serve a life-sentence for murder. His brother, other male relatives, and several rap associates have met violent deaths.

As a teenager, Durk joined the Black Disciples street gang, known for occasionally murdering its own members. Durk got into trouble with the law and eventually went to prison for possession of a pistol with a filed-down serial number. Later he was arrested again for possession of a pistol, as a convicted felon. He has had repeated problems with violating parole. Before a concert in 2015, someone shot up his tour-bus, causing the death of a concert-goer. In 2019, the police in Atlanta arrested Durk for participating in the murder of a man at a drive-in restaurant.

All of this would normally tarnish his reputation as a private citizen, but in the regressive world of Rap, the repeated arrests contribute to his reputation as a performer. He boasted about carrying on affairs with the girlfriends of other rappers. In revenge, another rapper boasted about having an affair with Durk's own girlfriend, and even claimed paternity for two or Durk's children. The term girlfriend hardly carries weight among rappers anyway. They just call 'em "Baby-mamas".

One of Durk's most important associates, King Von, faced murder charges in 2012, twice in 2014, and again in 2019; but he never stood trial because the police couldn't persuade witnesses to testify against him. Eventually, the law of the jungle, itself, caught up with Von. He was shot to death in a Hookah lounge in Atlanta in 2020. The rapper appears in this photo at the Icebox Jewelry and Watch store in Atlanta.

That such things go on in the Black community gets lots of publicity, but we are sort of inured to the tragedy and degradation of it. Average Black people can pretend that the Whites are looking out for them, but the pretence bothers me. And so, 150 years after President Lincoln's reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, it is difficult to see how much Emancipation has helped Black Americans. If independence is the greatest component of human freedom, then the Blacks today are no more free than their slave ancestors were. What would happen to them if the Whites refused to support them?

For much of the degradation that goes on in places like Englewood, I blame Black leaders. What have they actually done for Black people, except to say "Blame the Whites"? In other words, they are saying "Don't blame us!" But I do blame Black leaders. If they foist responsibility for the care of Black people onto the Whites, then they abdicate their own responsibility. In truth, the Blacks don't have substantial leadership, except from the Whites.