Zach Silver
Mr. Rocco
In our Crimes Against Humanity course we are learning about Chicago’s notorious side. The course has consisted of revealing Chicago’s violent and cultural crimes against humanity. To be exposed to this history we are reading Chicago Blues (a compilation of stories about crime set in Chicago), and looking at Maxwell Street–a perfect example of a Chicago’s culture of crime. The dis-assembly of the Maxwell Street market was a clear crime against culture because Maxwell Street was a part of Chicago, where the blues found a home and many cultures mixed and flourished. There were performers all over the Maxwell street market who created and played beautiful music. However, The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) needed more space for their campus and used their resources to get it; they tore down Maxwell Street and replaced it with a Jamba Juice and other large stores. The idea that an institution such as UIC, which is meant for educating and broadening students’ horizons, removed such a culturally rich part of Chicago is truly appalling.
While studying Maxwell Street, we read the story “Guarding Lacey” from Chicago Blues. This tale is about a thirteen years old girl named Lacey who is very troubled and turns to a life of prostitution. Her “family” tries to protect her. Her family consists of many “cousins” and a man named Smoke. This is not her biological family but is a family that looks out for one another. Lacey does not heed anyone’s advice and continues her life of prostitution. Her issues were perfectly summed up by Smoke when he said, “She’s thirteen going on trouble” (pg. 144). Although this is a fictional story it still holds truth because many youth in Chicago don’t have support systems and they look to the streets for guidance. This kind of upbringing facilitates a cycle, which leads to this society–a crime against humanity.