Chance the Rapper and Chicago Bulls player Jimmy Butler have a message for President Donald Trump and anyone else who sees their home as a war zone: get to know the Windy City before you attack it. The two men recently sat down with ESPN the Magazine/The Undefeated for an interview that addreses stereotypes being perpetuated about their city.
Trump tweeted in January that he would "send in the Feds" if Chicago did not fix its growing murder rate. FiveThirtyEight reported at the time that Chicago's violent crime issues, while increasing, are not as unique as Trump's selective attention suggests. Chance and Butler say the perception—one that emphasizes violence in the city's impoverished Black and Brown neighborhoods over issues like education funding and police violence—ignores Chicago's positive attributes.
"I hope [Trump's] coming in to do some type of federal overturn of our state and city budgets in terms of schooling and housing," Chance says in the Q&A, which ran online yesterday (Feburary 15). "I'm tired of n****s talkin' about Chicago like it's a Third World country. Like, that it's not a place of booming business with a very successful downtown and all types of new development. It sounds like he was announcin' he was going to war with Chicago. I don't like to look at s**t through that lens."
"I just think it's hard to relate to the people here if you can't relate to them," adds Butler. "If you keep throwin' em in a category that they're violent, no matter if they change or not, they're still going to be in that category."
The two young men also discuss celebrities' responsibility to affect social change via their platforms. Chance previously used his to lead hundreds of Chicagoans to an early voting site, while Butler works with local anti-violence youth mentorship initiatives. Although he feels athletes face unfair pressure to be activists, Bulter understands their importance to progress: "I think, at a certain point in time in your career, it's gonna be your time to speak up on social matters that are going on."
"My favorite celebrity, across arts and sports and everything, is Muhammad Ali," explains Chance. "And he was famous for speaking inflammatory things that were polarizing, but also were important to building who he was as a man and his legacy. And in the end, he was right about most of the s**t he was talkin' about."
The interview is one of two cover stories for ESPN the Magazine's entertainment issue, which hits stands tomorrow (February 17). The Undefeated also published the following two videos from the interview and cover shoot: