What’s behind a neighborhood? What’s going on beyond?
In those corridors of power where they birth all the new dawns?
Whose making these decisions about resources on my block?
Whose fixing all these potholes and setting all the clocks?
Chicago is a beautiful beast that breaths with the wind!
But pours more money into Buckingham Fountain,
than health clinics on its South End,
So while there’s much to celebrate, there’s also much to mourn,
For every pot of gold that builds downtown
There’s babies being born who’ll never make it to see the lake,
Because this crazy City is torn—
Into North, South & West
Into those with jobs & all the rest
Into activists & organizers rocking fear‐proof vests
And mighty decision makers who surely try their best
But still think they can feed our young ones with standardized tests.
What will it take to put the oppressive policies to rest?
Are we waiting for some bill to reach Obama’s desk?
Is it the signatures of men that will reclaim Chicago’s destiny ?
When the lake looks to the city, does it see the edge of man?
The brutalities & the beauties, both made by his hands?
Does it see our true potential when it looks beyond the sand?
Oprah & Common – Those in tune with greater plans?
Or the sadness in our hearts when families get removed from the land?
Does it see waves of human motion, powered by the moon?
Or women whispering to their children as they rest in their wombs?
Does it see the secrets of politicians creeping from their tombs?
Or the courage of youth who march against the doom?
Does it see the spaces left by projects wrecked in dynamite booms?
Or misplaced hopes in a vision fueled by vast Olympic boons?
Does the lake plea for the neighborhoods to come together in her name?
To fight against the displacement that brings all of us shame?
If we listen to the wind, can we hear the water’s call?
Is she crying out for all of us‐‐ dark, light, short, and tall?
Is she demanding Chitown’s freedom? Does she want it by the Fall!?
After all— What’s the use of being free when it’s 20 degrees below?
So rise up! From Roseland to Uptown, to defend Chicago!
Against the times we doubt in the future of ourselves…
Against ideas of safety that turn communities into cells…
Against the illusion of distance from our eternal well…
And twitters that keep us from hearing the stories our neighbors tell…
Rise up Hermosa & Woodlawn! Show us what you can do…
The Lake calls for Lawndale & Pilsen to stand up & fight through…
For all the Squares – from Logan to Lincoln – to find their inner truth…
For all the Parks – from Rogers to Marquette – to reveal what’s inside of you!
From the investment banking Yogis to the babies that breakdance,
From those born with silver spoons to those awaiting their second chance,
There are maps in your movements and guides in your bones,
When you follow them you’ll learn that none of us are alone,
And none of us are the same, We each have our own molecules
But we share L‐trains , And if we dare to go there,
We can share the mindframe‐
That there’s no real growth for our city, if there’s no impact on the streets,
That justice really ain’t so hard, it just means everyone can eat
Some healthy meals every single day, &
Have a place to build their home where their dreams can live & lay.
So is this a city made of neighborhoods? Or is that just what we say?
To the travelers and tourists who start passing through in May,
And leave before November when the Winter brings decay.
For those born here and those who chose to stay,
It’s a city made of hustle that teaches us to pray,
It’s a city made of sweat and those who claim to own the earth’s clay.
Yes, it’s a city run on politics where you got to pay to play,
Guided by powerful interests that expect you to obey,
But above all‐ It’s a city made of people, who in fierce winds will not sway,
It’s a city made of warriors and we all refuse to stray