CHICAGO, October 10 — The fatal beating of 16-year-old Derrion Albert on September 24 left more than one victim. Anjanette Albert, Derrion’s mother, was correct when she identified the young men charged with first-degree murder in her son’s senseless death as “victims too.” Capitalism — which creates poverty, homelessness, unemployment and war in its relentless drive for profits — causes this violence. Racism is one of the system’s main weapons that victimizes and divides our class.
Only communist revolution can make a real difference in the lives of the young black workers in these neighborhoods.
Communists fight for a future of equality for the entire working class, black, Latino and white. We will have to eliminate the rich bosses who run this society in order to guarantee a future for our young people.
Tale of Two Communities Victimized by Racism
At Fenger High School, located in the “Ville,” an area in the predominantly black Roseland community, only 6% of last year’s students met or exceeded standards on the reading portion of the Illinois State Achievement Test. This community is plagued with an astronomical number of black households now in foreclosure. One-third there lives in poverty, with no job stimulus on the horizon.
Another victimized community is the neighboring Altgeld Gardens. CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) developed this isolated far-South Side housing project for black factory workers during World War II. The Pullman Company dumped its waste on the spot Altgeld Gardens now stands. One of the nation’s five worst concentrations of toxic waste is on Chicago’s South Side. The “Gardens” has a high poverty and unemployment rate and is among the 15% lowest-income communities in the U.S.; 85% of Chicago’s children live in poverty.
The Rulers’ ‘Answer’: Military School and National Guard
The youth violence infecting our communities will only sharpen with capitalism’s economic crisis. Any recovery, just like the Olympics, will not be coming to poor black and Latino neighborhoods. Obama knows this. That’s why he dispatched Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — former CEO of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) — to the city this week to meet with angry parents, and students. “Chicago won’t be defined by this incident but rather our response to it” was the three-second sound bite Duncan told the TV news cameras. But it’s Duncan’s racist Renaissance 2010 school reform that is directly responsible for driving the escalating numbers of youth deaths even higher.
While running CPS, Duncan closed dozens of public schools, opened more charter schools and sent thousands of students outside of their poverty/gang-infested neighborhoods into new unfamiliar poverty/gang-infested neighborhoods. Before Renaissance 2010, the intolerable number of CPS students fatally shot in these neighborhoods was 15. In the 2006-07 school year it rose to 24; in 2007-08 to 23 deaths and 211 shootings. Now in 2008-09 it’s risen to over 40 fatalities and 290 shootings (five in the first two months). These resemble numbers from Iraq or Afghanistan.
The war-makers’ “answer”? The miniaturization of the schools. Duncan closed Carver High, Altgeld Gardens’ neighborhood school, turning it into a selective enrollment military school. He “turned around” Fenger High School, meaning he fired all the teachers, clerks, engineers, etc., hiring all new personnel.
Mayor Daley and Jesse Jackson’s response is using the National Guard to patrol the streets in these black neighborhoods, to “provide safe passage to school for our youth.” Marilyn Stewart, Chicago Teachers Union president and collaborator with Duncan, responded by calling for special schools that house only “trouble-making” students. They have plenty already; they’re called juvenile detention centers.
PLP’s Education Club took the lead from the youth and held a rally and CHALLENGE sale in the Roseland community, distributing leaflets and 130 papers and speaking on the bullhorn. A college student printed a sign reading, “Beep 4 revolution.”
Overall, the young people were encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the workers and youth they talked to. This has sparked a revival in our regular Saturday CHALLENGE sales, and spurred us to join an anti-violence youth organization, enabling us to meet more workers interested in PLP’s ideas on multi-racial unity and revolution. Through such mass organizations, we can help organize anti-racist class struggle, possible school walkouts and mobilizations against these increasing racist assaults.