Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Community Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Bradley Olson

Second Advisor

Dr. Ericka Mingo

Third Advisor

Dr. Judah Viola


Chicago is most noted as a beautiful, Midwestern city, set to the backdrop of Lake Michigan, with skyscrapers and the bustling energy of the downtown Magnificent Mile. The “Tale of Two Cities,” Chicago is a city full of hope, opportunity, and potential for some, but a city plagued with poverty, violence, disinvestment, and hopelessness for others. There has been a significant increase in the awareness of the violence happening across Chicago. The emergence of social media has provided a direct and unfiltered view of the reality of violence the city has faced on an ongoing basis. Crimes such as shootings, carjacking, and gang violence are constantly thrust into the spotlight and often captured and discussed in mainstream and social media. The internet has become an essential aspect of everyday life for most of us. The explosion of social media and music/video streaming platforms has created a means by which Black Chicago youth capture the realities of their world. The virtual world of likes, shares, and hashtags has created an algorithm, leading viewers a few short clicks away from experiencing the “Ghettaverse,” an immersive virtual experience of poverty, violence, and gang life in Chicago. The popularity of likes and shares combined with a global hunger for ghetto and poverty voyeurism has created a path for the poorest residents of Chicago from the most adversely impacted communities to derive a strategy to reap benefits from the digital economy. Black Chicago youth are sharing “hood” stories and experiences with millions of individuals worldwide through music and video streaming. Black Chicago youth have gained worldwide notoriety for creating Chicago drill music. The qualitative data for this study suggest that Black Chicago youth engage in creating and listening to navigate the poverty and violence experienced in their environment. This study led to the understanding of how Black Chicago youth engage in Chicago drill music culture as a way to interpret their experiences while amplifying their voices to meet their own needs.


Over the past few decades, thousands of young Black lives have been lost to violence in the streets of Chicago. It is not our place to pass judgement, as we may not have been born into the lives that fate handed them. This research does not focus on any particular neighborhood, community, block or street faction.

This research is important to me because of the young men and women who tried rapping as a means to get out of hood but lost their lives tragically to street violence. These young fathers, brothers, mothers, and sister could have been great poets, writers, engineers, entrepreneurs, reaching their fullest potential, if they had been born into different circumstances.

Therefore, I find it important to uplift the voices of those often demonized by society, those that have been excluded and written off as “a lost causes” and to those who have lost their lives to violence… may you Rest in Power…

Young Black Chicago… your story will not be forgotten.