The Chi DNA micro-documentaries draw from the themes, topics, and issues brought about in the academic research. Drawing from the original in-depth interviews, these episodes allow the Chi DNA community to be in conversation with one another to tackle various topics offering nuanced analyses through personal experiences and speaking truth to power.
Episode 1: "Chiraq"
The first episode in Chi DNA's micro-doc series explores perspectives around the controversial term "Chiraq". Drill rappers, activists, and everyone in between discuss their personal feelings about the nickname for Chicago that compares the violence in the city with the war in Iraq. Some hate it, some deem it appropriate, some view it as a broader diagnosis of neo-imperialism on black and brown communities, foreign and domestic. Its problematic framing paints the city with a broad brush, further exposing a white narrative of black violence devoid of systemic inequality and racism. However, perception is reality for those who experience the day-to-day violence and lack of resources the term eludes. Whatever the opinion, this episode shows that "Chiraq" is not as binary a term in its meaning as the concatenated nickname implies.
Episode 2: Art in Activism
The second episode in Chi DNA's micro-doc series explores the role of art in activism and the importance of telling one's authentic narrative creatively in speaking truth to power. Art and activism have always gone hand in hand. Chicago activists use various artistic mediums to push the resurgence forward. From traditional paint on canvas to informative and beautiful zines to community corner spoken word, creative narratives are employed to educate, express, and cope. Art has been a tool of movements past and continues to serve as a versatile component of the movement. With authenticity and expression at the center, this episode also unpacks drill as a type of misunderstood art in-and-of-itself. What would not conventionally be considered movement art, the subgenre discusses the ills of disenfranchised Black and Brown communities in a totally different way, often times under a prideful ownership or coping mindset, both dealing with larger structural problems and interpersonal or intercommunal affects.
Corresponding Podcast Episodes
Episode 3: Exile, Refuge, & Displacement
The third episode in Chi DNA's micro-doc series explores the notions of exile, refuge, and displacement in Chicago and abroad. International refugee crises (Assad in Syria, Sierra Leone child soldiers, etc.), neighborhood gentrification, and intracommunal violence are all byproducts of similar manifestations of de jure segregation, disenfranchisement, and global/local hegemony. Cultural representations in books, movies, and music struggle to make sense of the larger geo-political forces that create such destabilization of regions and displacement of peoples. These cultural practices and products serve as bottom-up responses to the top-down processes of white supremacy and global capitalism. Enter drill rap: Just as global refugee crises in the Middle East often come out of vacuums of power left by decades of intentional destabilization over oil, power, and resources by the West, much of the intracommunal violence propagated in drill (and in many artists/activists’ lives) are the results of decades of colonization and over-militarization of their neighborhoods. Activists and organizers speak to the narrative myths that hinder cross-cultural and mass mobilization while reiterating the importance of dismantling problematic institutions, policies, and oppressive systems to achieve true liberation.