Battling the Chiraq Epidemic: Why Folks should stop using that awful word

I’m hoping this is the last piece you will ever have to read with that word in the title. (This piece was written the day after Nicki hopped on the “Chiraq” remix)

Yesterday I browsed my twitter timeline and discovered that Nicki Minaj just dropped a new verse. As a Nicki fan, I of course, eagerly clicked the link to see what new song she hopped on and made her own. My excitement turned to dread when I saw that her latest verse was on a song called ‘Chiraq’, a ridiculous word given to my hometown of Chicago.

I rolled my eyes in annoyance.  It wasn’t merely the fact that Nicki had decided to pick up where she left off on the “Looking ass niggas” joint with the content in the song (that’s a whole other subject), it was yet again another reference to the city I live in as a brutal war zone. In the past year, there have been no less than 3 documentaries on Chicago. There have been countless think pieces on every website from Playboy to CNN. The latter is currently airing a docu-series on the city called Chicagoland.

It was only 2 weeks ago that Playboy published a yet another “investigative” piece exploring Chicago’s popular music scene called “To Live and Die in Chiraq” by Ethan Brown. Brown is most known for writing Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler. Clearly, this is his domain.

Noisey and WorldStarHipHop have each produced documentaries to further glorify and spread the Chiraq disease.

Playboy is among many publications this year to capitalize off the widespread beliefs that A) Chicago is the murder capital (it isn’t), B) these young rappers are really living a gangster life (your guess is as good as mine) and C) that the music from these artists is a real representation of life in Chicago.

Breaking News: Sorry to break the hearts of the Rap Genius and Noisey staff, it is not. We’re not all out here in Chicago robbing and killing folks. We’re trying to survive in this economy just like everyone else in every other city and town in America.

I grew up on the south side of Chicago in the 90s and early 2000s when the murder rate was indeed astronomical. Times are much different now. Things have changed. Some things for the better and many for the worse.

Here’s why people need to stop using the term:

It is an incorrect term.  In 2008, there were more murders in Chicago than the number of U.S troops killed in Iraq. That doesn’t include the number of Iraqi people every year. Therefore, the comparison is null and void. No one in Chicago has ever had to worry about roadside bombs. Although, many neighborhoods on the south and west sides Chicago definitely feel like a police state, there aren’t armed guards at security checkpoints in Chicago neighborhoods.

You’ve never lived here. What gives you the right? I’ve never been to Compton, CA but I’ve heard of it. I grew up with N.W.A and I love Kendrick Lamar so yeah I know about Compton. But I don’t know Compton. I don’t have the right to make comments or jokes about Compton. Folks have to keep that in mind when they’re making jokes and punchlines about Chicago.

Since this word was spread through the atmosphere like the common cold, it has become inescapable. When I’ve traveled outside of Chicago, men I’ve met have almost always said to me, “Oh you’re from Chiraq? I heard it crazy out there.”  It’s maddening!

You sound uninformed, unintelligent and just plain dumb.

There is absolutely no reason why any adult with knowledge of the world can even compare Chicago to Iraq. So why are you using that word?

I’m sure that Chief Keef, Lil Reese and many of the young misguided young people of Chicago really believe that they are the second coming of Larry Hoover and Jeff Fort, if they even know who those men are, so hearing them use the term is annoying but I can deal because I know that they know not of what they say or do.

But from y’all? No. Remove that word from your lexicon. If it helps, think of it as really, really bad word that you’re not supposed to say around a certain group of people because you don’t know how they will react. That might help.

The word Chiraq is only a small part of the recent exploitation of Chicago that really began on that brisk day in February 2007 when Senator Obama announced his bid to run for President. After that day, the dim light on the second city became a glaring spotlight. All of the sudden, the world was interested in this city that then Senator Obama had called home for 20 years.

The phrases “Chicago politics” and “the Chicago way” were mentioned almost nightly on cable networks. The high-profiled murders of young teenagers like Blair Holt, Derrion Albert and Hydeia Pendleton added fuel to the flame that was lit about what was happening in Chicago.

The murders of young black children are definitely stories that need to be told. But the damage is when those murders are used in campaign ads but with no new solutions and alternatives.

Chicago is not a city without problems. We’re a city of nearly 3 million people. There’s bound to be some problems. Chicago is 2 cities, divided by race and wealth. We’re a city with a long history of segregation, poverty, injustice, and of course crime.

But what we are not is a city without love. We are not a city without hope.

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