The following post originally appeared on Chatham Chatter under the title of “That Time My City Didn’t Kill Anyone.”
By: Chicago Chatter
Native son of Chicago. Raised in Chatham. Bulls, Bears, and Sox fan (in that order). Lived just a few blocks off of 79th and the Dan Ryan until my late twenties. This information would populate my FLEER Chidentity trading card (if such a thing existed) and I’m proud of every stat line. But some time between taking my first swing as a member of the South Side Little League baseball camp, and the third year of the second term of the first black President of the United States, my city became the unofficial murder capital of the nation.
A reputation of murder? It’s hard to believe because numbers don’t lie. Then again, (Chicago murder rate) statistics and their presentation are often manipulated to tell false or at least specific truths. I doubt that is news to anyone. What is news: 7 injured in shooting at South Side club; beloved special education teacher killed by stray bullet; 15 Chicago homicides have occurred in the first 10 days of June this year; 6 dead and at least 21 injured in shootings across the city since Friday (June 20-23,2014). Young black folks are doing most of the dying and the killing. These are the reports synchronized with our morning alarm clocks and nightly lullabies of late. The kinds of “accolades” you never want associated with the place some people ignorantly call “Chiraq”, but you lovingly call home.
If you believe that Chicago is one three-day weekend away from declaring Martial Law, I implore you to pay attention and widen your perspective. Chicago is not the only city suffering from outbreaks of crime and violent activity. See also Philadelphia. If you remove the element of race, the entire state of Florida has had a troubling last few years, lest we forget. Many campuses including those in Isla Vista, California and Seattle, Washington will be holding annual vigils for lives lost too soon. Cities and nations around the world are going through political upheavals that result in violence to which Chicago can’t compare (i.e. Egypt, Nigeria, and the Middle East). Please understand I’m not making excuses; I’m making observations.
Here’s another one: there is hope for our city and the youth who reside here. We shouldn’t have to be afraid to walk in our neighborhoods, even after an incident we hoped would continue to happen to everyone else in those “terrible” West Side and Englewood areas. But I’ve worked with youth in the past and it’s amazing what they can accomplish if you can simply inspire them. They are more than just the sum of their perceived parts; they are people who can be encouraged to achieve greatness beyond measure. But the lives that some of these kids live embody struggle that isn’t included in the reports of violence. Obstacles that many of us haven’t had to overcome. Resources we haven’t had to do without. A myriad of contributing factors affect how these kids act out but the details are often excluded.
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