Why is there no national outrage about what is taking place in Chicago? And I am not talking about national dialogue…talk. We retweet the murder numbers for weekends in Chicago like they are scores from the basketball game and then say "Damn, what a shame." When 15 people get killed in a weekend outside of urban communities, the national media swarmed like scavengers around a kill. When it happens in cities like Chicago, Philly, New Orleans, and other urban centers, it is just some "ish" that happens.
A headline in yesterday's Washington Post read: As Chicago’s homicide rate spikes, mayor and police boss defend their new crime-fighting plan. The article highlighted the debate between current and past policing strategies. Many believe that it is the strategy of the two previous administrations that brought homicide numbers down from the 900-murder-a-year numbers of the 90's to the more recent averages of 450-murders-a-year since 2005. But the article, and much of the media I have seen and read about Chicago violence, always talk about gangs and crime fighting. But this crisis is bigger than gangs and crime fighting.
All of the violence that is taking place in Chicago and other urban cities is not about gangs and crews. It is about the convergence of massive and generational poverty, under-education, addiction, a culture of violence to solve problems, lack of opportunity and unemployment, and oh yeah….lack of hope…on a packed city when it gets hot.
Yes, we have to fight crime and address the issue of drug dealing and turf-fighting gangs. But what about the kids who are not in gangs who are just angry and the others who are just scared who carry weapons because they feel they have to, and use them for the same reason? Crime fighting alone will not change this.
We need more large and small programs for kids in the city. All research shows more to do, less violence. We need to see churches opening their doors when we can't provide expensive opportunities. We need community members who are not scared to work with former OG's to have conversations with the gangs members and other young people that are wiling to talk. It doesn't mean we stop gang activity. It means we increase communication which helps mend broken communities. When you are willing to talk to me and not at or about me, it changes the environment.
Finally, all of us must get angry and active. How can you be angry about Trayvon and inactive about Chicago? We are hypocrites. Change your avatars to the Chi. Begin to contact organizations and churches like Cease Fire and others doing real work on the ground and start taking bus trips there to volunteer based on what local service leadership and young people say they need. Write and contact your local officials and tell them you care about what is happening in the Chi. Make the world pay attention not to the crime of our children, but the humanity that is so well camouflaged behind their rage, hurt, and fear.
Yesterday's Post article ended with Mayor Emmanuel stating, "Gangs will not find shelter in the city of Chicago.” Well, damn Rahm. It doesn't seem like anyone else will either. Chicago is not the only city suffering. But if we can bring attention to solutions there, we can do it anywhere. If we don't raise hell about it, hell will continue to be raised here.