Dr. Boyce: Why Lil Jo Jo’s Murder Angers Me So Much


by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I consider the South Side of Chicago to be my second home.  I love this community like no other, and I find this part of the city to be filled with hard working, intelligent, loving and industrious citizens.  The South Side gets a lot of attention for the violence, which is a serious problem.  But it is also a bastion of inspiration when it comes to building black businesses, community organizing and all the other things that make black people great.  Remember that the same community that produced the exceedingly violent rapper Chief Keef and the Hadiya Pendleton murder also touts  Min. Louis Farrakhan and First Lady Michelle Obama.

With that being said, I woke up this morning thinking about a video that was produced by the rapper Lil Jo Jo shortly before he was murdered on the south side.  Jo Jo’s mother believes that her son was killed by someone affiliated with the rapper Chief Keef, and I agree with her (especially after Keef and his friends seemed to be bragging about the murder on Twitter). Of course, Jo Jo was too young to die, and the senseless violence breaks my heart.

What also breaks my heart is that our nation is unwilling to try to understand the socioeconomic conditions that lead to young men choosing to shoot each other down.  The list is a simple and persistent one, but most people would rather assume that we’re just a bunch of angry buffoons who enjoy seeing our brains splattered onto the street.  Here’s a short list of factors:

– Having one or both parents locked away in the prison industrial complex (aka modern day slavery by nearly any measure)

– Horribly weak educational systems and opportunities


– A skyrocketing black and teen unemployment rate that no one is paying attention to

– Having parents that might be hooked on drugs or unable to provide for their children

– The easy availability of guns that corporations would never dare to provide so readily in the suburbs

– The mass production of commercialized hip-hop music that systematically brainwashes young, misguided children to become hard core killers by the age of 14

When you create conditions designed to produce trauma, despair, desensitization to violence and more serious forms of mental illness, and then you make it easy for kids to get guns into their possession, this is a recipe for disaster.   These outcomes are not produced by accident.  I am convinced it is by design.

When I watch the Lil Jo Jo video (which you can see below), I can’t help but wonder, “Where in the h*ll did those teenagers get all those guns?”  I then wonder if Chicago police did a thorough job of investigating where the guns in this video came from.  I find it interesting that the guns just “slip through” to the black market and end up on the streets so easily.  The prevalence of these weapons is a reminder of serious political corruption in the city, and African Americans should be outraged, since hand guns are the #1 killer of black men in America.

Chicago politicians should be ashamed of the fact that there are communities where a teenager has an easier time getting a gun than getting an education.  This is nothing short of disgusting.

The violence problem in Chicago and other urban centers around America is no big mystery.  There are experts who can tell you exactly why the problems exist, and exactly how to solve them.   What is also clear is that corporate greed and racism lead our nation to feel that it’s OK to allow these problems to fester.  It is our lack of political will that keeps us from doing the right thing.

The children in this video (some who look as young as five years old) were created by us and made in America.  We all play a role in these outcomes.

You can watch the video here. 

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and author of the lecture series, “The 8 Principles of Black Male Empowerment.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

Check Also


The horrific shooting of Laquan McDonald: Things you must consider

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadCitizens of the city of Chicago have been protesting ...


  1. @kevin and @james, i agree with most of what you’re saying
    the first thing on top of the list of problems should be
    those who are in a position to educate, inspire, and
    help motivate union versus division are not doing so. all
    day everyday we see and hear negative images of ourselves
    by ourselves. we continue to embrace titles that demotes,
    disconnect, and sensationalize ignorance. men go around
    calling each other dogs, and or nigga (nigger), women refer
    to themselves as bitches and ho’s rather we acknowledge
    that we are brothers and sisters under GOD and we should
    refer to each other as such. once we start realizing we’re
    more than those titles then we can start changing mindsets.
    once we start changing mindsets we can start changing our
    education system, we can start changing our financial woes,
    we can start changing our relationships with each other. we
    called each other negative titles so long we started acting
    like niggas (niggers). our forefathers fought so we might
    go to school and get an education and what we do?, drop out
    our forefathers fought so we can have the right to vote
    what we do?, dont vote using nothings going to change as
    the excuse; our forefathers fought hard to keep their
    families together what we do?, have children and dont
    take responsiblilty to raise them (women you at fault too
    you have children by men you know isnt any good and dont
    seek him out to help you raise them once he’s gone and
    the ones you do have child(ren) with that wants to be a
    father you play games with the kids trying to keep him
    away from their kids because you’re hurt that he moved on)
    and dont give me that “i dont do that”, i’m living that
    and know plenty of men that is. these rappers dont tell
    us the truth claiming they’re gangstas but dont rap about
    educating yourself, they dont rap about coming together,
    they dont rap about finding a good woman and treating her
    good,they dont rap about women treating your man with
    respect instead all we hear is how much weed they sold or
    smoke, what new drug we need to try, we hear pimp this
    woman or pimp this man and the list goes on and on. those
    of us who realize this is out numbered and that’s the
    frustrating part of it all.

    • Kevin Andri-Benjamin Martin

      Its the snowball rolling down the hill, which by the way, just grew by 2100 CPS employees! Just keep that mouth shut because you think you’re clouted, and watch what happens? The school closings has nothing to do with the quality of the education or the effectiveness of the education professionals!

      It all boils down to those disenfranchised people that the unions talked our elected officials into cutting off at the neck! Notice all of the vacant lots and board ups on the west & south sides, you see people use to live there, pay taxes, fines & fees! They made purchases, but most importantly, they raised children and sent them to school! You know, those empty buildings being maintained with taxpayer dollars in some cases?!

      The school closings is an economic & demographics issue! Every board up house and vacant lot represents revenue that’s no longer available to finance schools! In addition, those empty boarded up buildings & vacant lots represents children that would attend school! No money to run the schools & the declining attendance of the children in the schools are collateral damage of disenfranchisement of people!

      Detroit, Michigan just filed for bankruptcy, do you think Chicago, Illinois is any different. I used to own a business which not only generated revenue for me, but for the city and the state! I’ll be danmed if I resurrect my company on credit only to be driven out of business because of my ethnicity or the color of my skin. As a matter of fact, I’m trying to escape from Sodom & Gohmerica, Chicago being its capital city, I fully encourage businesses to leave Chicago if their business is based here, I strongly discourage any business to move to Chicago or to attempt investment in a start up! Illinois and more especially the city of Chicago will invite and encourage all the local vultures to pick your business clean! Freedom is what I’m aiming for, how about you?

  2. In 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed 75 percent of Afrikan American children were being raised in a two-parent family. In 2012 when Barack Obama was reelected 72 percent of Afrikan American children were being raised in a single-parent family. One of the most critical errors of Afrikan American leadership since 1965 has been placing a disproportionate emphasis on electoral politics (as if holding office is tantamount to holding power) at the expense of an emphasis on economic, educational, and cultural development.

    Two critical factors Dr. Watkins did not mention: (1) the erosion of the US manufacturing base; (2) the FBI’s war on the Black Liberation Movement.

    As regards point 1 see, “Bastards of the Party:” The 14 biggest factories in LA closed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This happened across all urban America, particularly in the cities Afrikan Americans had moved to during the “Great Migration.”

    As regards point 2 see the documentaries: “The Murder of Fred Hampton,” and “41st & Central: The Untold Story of the LA Black Panthers.”

    Finally check out the work of our Esteemed Ancestor, Dr. Amos N. Wilson:

    (1) Understanding Black Male Adolescent Violence: Its Remediation and Prevention

    (2) Black-On-Black Violence: The Psychodynamics of Black Self-Annihilation in Service of White Domination

  3. @ Yonah, BD (black disciples) is a gang. BDK means black disciple killer.

  4. “Having one or both parents locked away in the prison industrial complex (aka modern day slavery by nearly any measure)”
    There’s a reason people go to prison; they’ve committed a crime and whenever there is a crime there is a victim and it sure ain’t the one that goes to prison. If these men were such good parents they wouldn’t be in prison in the first place and wouldn’t be having kids they know they can’t or won’t take care of, they’d be out getting an education, getting a job or starting a business. So why don’t we just let them all out; what then? How much better parents or husbands are they going to be when they get out?
    “- Horribly weak educational systems and opportunities”
    A free public education is there for anyone that wants it. No, the system is not perfect and it may be weak in some respects, but for anyone to go out and commit a crime or drop out because they say it’s because of a weak educational system is lying and making excuses.
    -“A skyrocketing black and teen unemployment rate that no one is paying attention to”
    Why is unemployment among blacks and teens so high? Job opportunities in this country are there for anybody who wants to work; under certain conditions. Black teens are their own worst enemies when it comes to employment. Getting a job; any job requires a certain amount of preparation and these kids today just aren’t prepared. They’ve dropped out of school for whatever reasons, their appearance turns most potential employers off (sagging pants, tattoo’s, multi-color hair) just to name a few. The biggest reason the unemployment rate is so high among black teens is that they aren’t employable. Most of these same principles apply to adults as well. We would rather make excuses rather than do what’s necessary. When we constantly have so-called leaders telling us how bad things are and how the President and the Government is failing us, we buy into it and consequently we don’t make the necessary sacrifices to better our situation.
    “- Having parents that might be hooked on drugs or unable to provide for their children”
    Who got them hooked? The very people that certain people want let out of prison so they can sell some more drugs and get some more people hooked and have more kids they can’t or won’t take care of. The Government provides assistance for those families that can’t find work, don’t want to work and can’t work for whatever reason. What do we do? We sell the food stamps for drugs and alcohol, we claim kids we don’t have at tax time and we squander the money on whatever (weave’s, wigs, and rims come to mind just to name a few), and we still blame the government for failing us.
    “- The easy availability of guns that corporations would never dare to provide so readily in the suburbs”
    What corporations are providing these guns? Where is the money coming from to buy these guns? Anybody that wants a gun can get a gun whether they’re in the “hood” or the “suburbs”. I’m willing to bet that if you took a count there would be far more guns available in the suburbs than in the hood. The availability of guns is not the problem; it’s the mindset and the mentality of the person possessing one.
    “ – The mass production of commercialized hip-hop music that systematically brainwashes young, misguided children to become hard core killers by the age of 14”
    This should have been at the top of the list. As long as we allow this type of music to infiltrate the community and the minds of young people everything else on this list is of no consequence. Rap music, pornographic and violent videos are the biggest influence on young people, I recall the 70’s,(the days of the “black exploitation films” ) when some of these same so-called black leaders pushed Hollywood to cease making these films and Hollywood eventually gave in. The big difference is that back then these movies were a great source of jobs and income for a lot of black actors, but this rap/hip-hop industry isn’t creating income for anyone but the white music producers, and no jobs for black people. So why aren’t these so-called leaders putting pressure on the music industry to stop this obvious destruction of the American Black Youth? When we allow videos like this Lil Jo Jo video to even be produced and put out there for everybody to watch how can you expect anything different of the youth of today? If these so-called leaders and scholars can’t figure this out and put an end to it, then they should just shut the f***k up about everything else.

  5. Kevin Andri-Benjamin Martin

    When talking about the violence on the streets of Chicago, Illinois, let’s place the blame where it truly belongs! A majority of the violence stems from the corruption instituted by our many corrupted elected officials, who became very close buddies with union officials, thereby locking ordinary, everyday citizens out of the process of jobs, contracting and business opportunities.

    You see, if the parents are homeless and jobless, their children are homeless and jobless, nevertheless, they will survive because there are so many victims to choose from! Let’s couple that first illustration together with the all to famous or infamous (No Child Left Behind) program, and presto-chango like magic, you have literally millions of uneducated criminals wandering the streets of Chicago with time & people to kill! In addition, these thugs band together with every intention of surviving.

    If McCarhty & Emanuel want to put an end to violence in the streets of Chicago, try eradicating the corruption within city, state, and county government, which in turn, will straighten out the school system and the countless many people struggling to survive while waiting for honest government to magically appear! The amount, type and capacity of the weapons don’t really matter, what does matter is how hungry & ignorant the person is holding the weapons!?