Spike Lee’s film projects can always be assured of inciting some sort of reaction, whether it be controversy or inspiration. His upcoming project, a film on Chicago, is proving to be no different. To be called Chiraq, there is already some conversation about the term.
Some residents and community leaders are concerned that the negativity associated with the term “Chiraq” — a combination of “Chicago” and “Iraq” and calling attention to the city’s violent reputation — could affect tourism, scaring tourists from visiting the city that already has to contend with is image of violence.
It’s really concerned local rapper Aaron Pierce, who has launched an “Anti-Chiraq” social media campaign. “That name does not really give us a positive look. That name belittles our city and I feel like it dehumanizes us. We are from Chicago. It is not like Iraq,” says Pierce, who also runs a mentoring program for public school students.
Lee meanwhile is moving ahead with the film and word is he wants to cast Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven, Common, and Kanye West. No other details about the film have been released.
Lee didn’t create the term and Chicago has had negative nicknames before, including “Beirut on the Lake” in the 1980s to “Chiberia” during the winter of 2013-14.
“Chiraq” has been used for years but became popular in 2012 when Chicago saw a major rise in homicides.
But despite a drop in crime and violence, both are still major issues in Chicago. There were 407 homicides in 2014. “In the first three months of a cold and snowy 2015, shootings jumped 40 percent and homicides rose about 26 percent compared with the year-earlier period, Police Department statistics show,” reports The Chicago Tribune.
Do you think the term “Chiraq” is offensive?