The streets of Chicago have always been riddled with gang violence and poverty in African American communities. Dominic A. Pacyga’s novel Chicago: A Biography explores the obstacles faced by blacks during the evolving of Chicago through accounts of public housing, street gangs, education, and juvenile delinquency. The film There Are No Children Here tells the story of two boys growing up in a housing project in Chicago infested with crime and a shortage of money, guidance, and tranquility. Knowledge of the struggles of the residents of Chicago, in particular African Americans, is essential to the history of the city. Were these struggles possibly dreams deferred? Both Pacyga’s novel and the film There Are No Children Here convey the trials and tribulations of the African Americans who made their homes in Chicago years ago. However, Pacyga displays a bird’s eye view while the film provides a front row seat to African American struggles in the evolving Chicago.
The 1993 film There Are No Children Here explores the lives of Lafayette and Pharaoh Rivers, two young African American boys growing up in the Henry Horner Homes project in Chicago. Living off of government benefits and an alcoholic father, the boys lack a stable domestic environment. The world outside of their crammed apartment is also far from inviting. Having seen his older brother behind bars and two of his closest friends shot dead due to gang violence, Lafayette becomes engulfed into the corrupt world of street gangs in attempts to ease the pain of being without money, an acceptable home, and friends. Lafayette promises his younger brother Pharaoh that they would not have to worry about gangs. Hit with reality, Lafayette realizes that he is one of the gangsters tainting the city that many people call home. This promise pulls Lafayette out of the gang scene and into the vow of getting out of the cruel streets of Chicago.
In Chicago: A Biography, Pacyga discusses the skyrocket in the population of...
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