The following article is from my interview by Jireh Gibson for the Chicago City Wire April 22, 2017.
Blaming violence in Chicago on the historical treatment of African-Americans and demanding government intervention inflames a “spirit of victimization,” Mychal Massie, founder of the Racial Policy Center, told the Chicago City Wire recently.
“It breeds acrimony and antipathy born out of jealousy from the perspective that someone has it better than you based on the color of their skin,” Massie said.
Massie, an ordained minister and outspoken conservative voice on issues of race, was responding to public comments by U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), who said violence in Illinois’ largest city could be traced to poverty – a side effect of a history of inequality and oppression.
In November, Davis joined a gathering of black elected officials to talk about eradicating poverty to address the senseless violence in Chicago. His 15-year-old grandson, Jayvon Wilson, had been recently killed at home during an argument over a borrowed pair of gym shoes. Two teenagers were charged with murder.
Still grieving, Davis blamed such violence on years of oppression that began with slavery.
“We’re not just talking about last month,” Davis said. “We’re talking about from the slave ships. We’re talking about Jim Crow. We’re talking about the remnants of all that has been done to prevent this group of people from experiencing equity. You can’t deny that. You can’t take that away.”
At the Chicago City Hall news conference, Davis agreed with several other elected officials that the 10/20/30 Amendment could be used to help people in neighborhoods that have lived below the poverty level for more than 25 years. The 10/20/30 Amendment proposes to abolish poverty by directing 10 percent of county, city, state, and federal funds into communities in which 20 percent of the population has lived in poverty for at least 30 years.
Massie disagrees with Davis’ solution and offers personal experience to make his point. Unlike Davis, he doesn’t think the city’s violence stems from oppression.
“It originates from ignorance, and it’s a damnable heterodoxy that has no basis in truth,” he said.
At age 10, Massie and his family relocated to his grandparents’ home because his mother became ill. Amenities such as indoor plumbing and electricity were not available and added later, which meant by today’s standards Massie lived in poverty. However, it was not about skin color because every one of his white and black friends in the neighborhood lived in similar housing and dealt with the same challenges. Despite living in poverty, today Massie says he, as well as some of his childhood friends, are highly successful.
He said no one ever told him he was poor, and “No one told us we could not do it,” he said.
Massie believes his success is a direct result of propriety, respect, work ethic and personal responsibility.