Michael Walton II is a student, freelance writer and high school basketball scout based in Chicago. He’s previously been published in the Redeye Chicago, thelyricallab.com and TrueStar Magazine, on whose website this article was originally published.
Back on November 26th, Sean Combs’s REVOLT TV premiered Chicago Love, a documentary that looks deeper into the origins of the problems that currently afflict Chicago and specifically its youth population.
Thankfully, Truestar was invited to a special advanced screening of the film, and I have to say that I came away impressed.
Depending on your point of view, issues could be taken with the film focusing mostly on the South Side of Chicago, but that much was expected, and the documentary does make sure to address the West Side as well. The film’s cameos were important as they talked to professionals, but didn’t reach for celebs who weren’t important to the issues at hand. Chicago Love features appearances by Rhymefest, GLC and even one half of Truestar’s creators, DeAnna McLeary-Sherman along with many more.
Many documentaries focusing on the complex issues in Chicago usually fail by trying to make violence in the city seem like it could be pin-pointed to only one factor. Other films have focused too much on generating an emotional response, thereby failing to discuss solutions to the problems at hand.
The multifaceted problems facing Chicago have to do with many things, including but not limited to: the prison industrial complex, the jailing of gang leaders over time, and the lack of resources available to a large number of African-Americans and impoverished people in the Chi. The film performs a great balancing act because it enlightens the viewer while not completely exhibiting a self-serving bias.
After the screening was over, all attendees of the event were able to hear some truly stirring speeches from many community leaders.
Along with encouraging words from musicians, museum founders and various entrepreneurs, long-time Chicago street activist Wallace “Gator” Bradley gave the most interesting speech of the night, one in which he stated that the quickest way to tame the problems plaguing Chicago would be to free former Gangster Disciple kingpin Larry Hoover, as he is believed to have the ability to command the attention of the black community in Chicago. Bradley’s solution is an intriguing start, and it brings to mind a past Chicago Reader article.
The Reader’s Hoover article, published in 1995 states: “Thousands of young men, former and current gang members, hang on his words and ideas. When Hoover speaks, even though he’s been in prison for 20 years, people pay attention…he says his gang days are over, and Growth and Development [formerly Gangster Disciple] is a political organization. His life and education in prison, he says, have given him a new conception of power. ‘It’s a natural state of evolvement,’ he says. ‘Everything’s changed. As you mature, you change. Your priorities change, your perspectives change. The difference between a gang and an organization is the principles and the goals that they apply.’ ”
It was and still is tough for government officials to judge if Hoover is sincere in his words or if he is merely using his change of heart to reestablish himself as an organized crime leader. I believe Hoover is sincere, but the probability of Hoover being released seems low at this time.
Regardless of how people feel about Gator Bradley’s solution, I personally was thrilled to hear about any solution to a problem that has festered for too long in Chicago. In order to enact true change, we need a rise to action on a wide-spread basis.
Chicago Love is perhaps the best documentary to ever tackle the multi-faceted issues plaguing this great city. But with so many amazing professionals now working with youth to solve these problems, perhaps the city won’t be pigeon-holed much longer. The city of Chicago is simply not based around violence, poor education systems and pain. It is a city of triumph, perseverance and brutal honesty.
And Chicago Love was the best name for the film, because it is also a city full of unconditional love special to Chicago. With REVOLT TV’s film shedding light (both positive and negative) on the city, just maybe the entire nation can feel Chicago love.
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