Since writing my column in June describing how some black folk on the West Side and the rest of the city are acting like a new version of the Ku Klux Klan, others have started making that same comparison. Fellow journalists, community leaders and residents are expressing a similar sentiment. The next question I have is this: Do the new KKK realize who they’re mimicking?
Last month we saw gang members host a press conference – not to declare that they’re disbanding and turning legit or to disavow their violent acts and promise to stop the killings. No, they faced the media to criticize Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, who met not-so-secretly with gang leaders a few days earlier, presumably to tell them that if they don’t stop their criminal activities, then he’s really going to make life difficult for them.
They didn’t heed his warning. But their attempt to use the media is right out of the KKK’s handbook. In Devil’s Sanctuary, the 2009 book detailing hate crimes against blacks in Mississippi, there are various examples of the Klan trying to manipulate the media.
In one instance, a Klan member flew to NBC News studios in New York – the network had sent a news crew to Mississippi in 1956 to report on racism in the South. Through some clever deception and outright thievery – he allegedly stole some of the video clips of the report – the Klan member succeeded in botching the news story, which never aired.
Of course, this and other acts were done under the guise of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. It was created in 1956 by the state legislature to “protect the state from the encroaching power of the federal government.”
In reality, the book’s authors, Alex A. Alston and James L. Dickerson, called the commission what it really was, a super spy agency. The bill’s provision authorized the commission to “perform any and all acts and things deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the State of Mississippi, and her sister states, from encroachment.”
That’s just a bunch of legislative mumbo-jumbo to distort the fact that the commission’s real job was to cover up the acts of the Klan and other white racists, and to use deception to portray the Klan’s critics as the real villains – villains who were trying to destroy the “southern way of life,” as described by the authors, two white southerners who opposed the Klan and their acts against innocent blacks.
By the way, that guy who botched the NBC report was the sovereignty commission’s public relations director.
Gangs and other Black KKK members today are manipulating the media in similar ways. Listen to some of the hip hop music today and you hear their messages of misogyny, drug use and materialism. Criticize any of it and they and their fan base will accuse you of being a “hater.” I wholeheartedly support an artists’ right to free speech, and also support others using their free speech to speak out against those things they disagree with.
The new Black KKK also has a similar mindset to their white counterparts. The original Klan was blinded by their racism. They thought they were truly protecting that southern way of life by keeping blacks “in their place.” The new KKK professes “keeping it real” and “representing the street life.” Representing the street life is one thing – socially-conscious filmmakers, writers and rappers can do that without destroying the black community.
The Black KKK instead is killing, raping and robbing other blacks. Is that what they mean by “keeping it real?”