It chills my spirit just to type that headline. Unfortunately, it is a grim reality that all of us Chicagoans have had to come to terms with. It’s almost as though we are numb to the violence. Whenever I turn on the news, I immediately speculate on how many people were shot the night before. I never ponder whether or not there was a shooting, but simply how many innocent lives were lost this time. Shootings in Chicago are no longer the top stories in the news. They are so common; we don’t even hear victims’ names or see photos as often. It usually appears as a side note during the daily broadcasts. News reporters now rarely show any emotion when reporting these tragedies. In Chicago we have accepted the violence and seem to be adjusting our lives around it while praying it doesn’t show up at our front door.
Just a couple of weeks ago I received a call from my youngest sister, who was hysterical , screaming and crying, stating her car was just shot up while she was driving it. Can you imagine the panic in my heart? She made it to my house where I was able to console her, but actually seeing bullet holes in her windshield and back window confirmed that there is a war on the streets of Chicago. And the innocent, hard working families are the casualties far too frequently. One of Chicago’s newest nicknames is Chi-raq because of the large numbers of lives lost in 2012.
People can no longer afford to think the problem is someone else’s because violence can rip any one of our families apart. My teen daughter, a future journalist, participated in a special I-team report through Columbia College, which labeled the violence in Chicago as a public health issue. Just like other public health issues, we desperately need a cure. My daughter’s research took her through some of the communities most threatened by violence and the opportunity to speak with community intervention/prevention organizations who are doing their part to make an impact, like Ceasefire. However, the problem is many of us have given up on our young people. We are afraid to speak out and take action. Some parents have stopped parenting and have voluntarily turned their parental duties over to the streets. These parents should be held responsible for the actions of their children.
Our young people aren’t aware of the options they have in life. Street life seems the most realistic and easiest to obtain. It requires no work or effort. We have to expose children to the possibilities. They need to know there are a variety of career options in addition to becoming an athlete or musician. Career discussions, possible trainings or industry research should be part of the current curriculum, especially for our teenagers. This needs to happen before children begin to lose interest and look for other means of self-fulfillment.
Chicago is in desperate need of your prayers. Throwing in the towel and giving up is not an option. We must continue to talk about it with one another, with our teenagers and get involved. Mentoring, counseling, teaching or simply providing guidance to the children we come in contact with is a start. Chicago reaching its 500th homicide is absolutely horrifying and devastating. We need action now.
BMWK – What needs to happen to end the violence in Chicago and many other cities across this nation?