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Every time a black man is shot on the streets of Chicago, I think of my friend, Michele Dowdy, who lost her son to gun violence in 2012 and how justice continues to elude her. Malcom Dowdy, 33, was not in a gang; he was not involved in a fight at the time of the shooting – he was simply a family man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dowdy was shot by mistake on Memorial Day 2012 and his murderer has still not been arrested and brought to trial, although the case remains open.

“It’s very frustrating,” Michele said Thursday.

Two years after Malcom Dowdy’s murder, gun violence on the streets of Chicago has reached crisis proportions. On the July 4 weekend, 82 people were shot, mostly young Black men, and 16 people were killed. The reports of these shootings – and violent deaths – seem so routine these days, so detached, so matter-of-fact. But we’re facing an epidemic that is sweeping through Chicago and taking hold of this country. We’re losing an entire generation of young Black men to gun violence and nobody seems to have a plan to stop it.

There have been countless meetings with police and residents; studies by educators and psychologists; and police claims that the overall crime rate is dropping. Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blamed the federal government for the shootings, claiming the feds have not done enough to provide young people with after-school programs. That was a stretch by any political yardstick. So what will it take to stop these shootings? What will it take to stop the culture that glorifies brazen murders in public parks?

Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, Illinois Chairman of the National Action Network, is calling for a summit on urban violence and criticized Emanuel for poor leadership.

“If Rahm can raise money for his campaign, he can raise money to replace resources that have been ripped from the disadvantaged and challenged communities where senseless violence erupted once again this weekend,” Livingston said. “School closings and union busting are just a few of the grave issues that affect this nature of violence.”

Livingston has a point, but it’s also a parental issue as well. What are parents teaching these black boys and can’t some parents do a better job of reining in their offspring? Michele Dowdy, she did all the right things: She taught her son right from wrong, raised him to respect women and family, she taught him the meaning of a solid work ethic and instilled the importance of serving his country.

“He was the first grandchild on both sides of the family, a proud father of a daughter … he had a fiancé, a new home, he was a veteran, a dean’s list student, a working man,” Michele told me. “He was well-respected by all,” she said.  “But most of all, he was my son, my heir, my backup, my protector, my confidant, not perfect, mine.  At the time of his death he was very, very happy and planning a wedding.” Black men like Malcom Dowdy are dying senselessly on the streets of Chicago and police can’t seem to close their cases.

It’s difficult for Michele to accept that her son’s killer is walking the streets of Chicago. If only someone –anyone — would talk. It’s a daunting situation for Chicago residents, many of whom do not want to be labeled as snitches for fear of repercussions from gang members. But if nobody ever talks, then killers continue to roam free and, perhaps, will kill again. “The shooter shot in the crowd at someone else and missed,” Michele said. “To this day no suspects have been apprehended, a usual occurrence in Chicago. Someone saw something, someone knows something.”

Last week, Tonya Gunn, 44, was one of those 82 people shot in Chicago. She was killed while sitting in a park while attending a family gathering. Gunn’s 11-year-old daughter was standing right beside her mother at the time of the shooting.

“Everybody was sitting out here and I was sitting over there. And I was getting ready to go in the house. And they started shooting and I heard them screaming. They saying, ‘Somebody call the police!’ But I didn’t know who it was. And then the ambulance came and they took her. They shot her in front of her daughter,” Krystal Scott, Gunn’s cousin, told The Chicago Tribune.

And there’s more: According to the Tribune, the July 4 weekend rampage also included two boys shot by police: a 14-year-old who allegedly pointed a long-barreled .44-caliber revolver at officers, and a 16-year-old who allegedly refused officers’ instructions to drop a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun as he crawled out from beneath a car. The boys are 14 and 16 years old. Something is very wrong in our communities and we need to do a better job policing our own neighborhoods.

“The solution does not just include policing — although we’ll continue to look for ways to put more police where they’re needed,” Emanuel told reporters. “We also have to give our young people alternatives to the street, and as a community we need to demand more of ourselves and our neighbors.”

It’s a solid concept, sure, but Emanuel needs more cops on the streets to close cases so he should put more money behind those lofty words. Just ask my friend Michele Dowdy.

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16 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Our Kids Are Dying In Chicago And We’re Becoming Immune To It

  1. bootlip on said:

    Violence is just part of the vibrant black culture and should be celebrated! I know I celebrate black on black crime.

  2. Anonymous on said:

    Once upon a time, there was no such thing as an entire family that didn’t know the Lord in the black community. Now this is commonplace. If you don’t fear the God, you don’t fear anything else. Too many households are bereft of religion. The violence and gross immorality in this country are the consequence.

    • seriously on said:

      Prayer/religion has nothing to do with this and going after who sell the guns is not going to work, people kill people not guns and those without conscious or empathy for others is certainly not going to pray…

  3. seriously on said:

    keep it real, yeah it takes two to make a child, but only one to eff up that child for life…And since the women have to take the child home with them….the other option is to take a pill…Not to mention that black women in NYC alone are having a abortion same women/girl at rates of 4-5 per year. Point to that is these women are just as morally bankrupt and the men they lay with. That is the problem, some of kids did stand a chance.

  4. Thomas on said:

    Negores are promoting, and glorifying black rap music. It is your problem, because the chickens have come home to roost.

  5. seriously on said:

    Joy, One of the first issues that Black America have to face is the truth and no it is not just “some” black families failing it is 47.5 % of single parent household living in poverty and 80% of those families will remain in poverty generational so…So single moms are in fact the problem, yes mentoring helps but we do not have enough funds or volunteers to be effective.

    Many of the men do not want to deal with single moms…It is the truth because they seem to not want to face the reality of their situation, which is they are in over their heads, a lot of these moms where in fact teen moms themselves…And the real solution starts with mentor young girls and young ladies and even helping them with parenting skills, so they can effective participate and mentor their own children. Which is the best case scenario…

    Because these men that mentor have their own families, it is unfair to ask them to give so much of their time to someone’s else kids, who parent/s do not care. These parent/s have to show up to.

    • KeepingItReal on said:

      We have become immune to black on black violence because we have accepted black men NOT RAISING the black children they created. Another commenter stated the problem is single moms. I agree…to an extent…because you cannot hold single moms accountable without holding the biological fathers …WHO ARE ABSENT…equally responsible. Many of these “teenage moms” were probably victims of abuse at the hands of much older men. If black people don’t seriously deal with black males NOT RAISING THEIR CHILDREN…then you will continue to have situations like this. And…let’s be clear…many of the absent black fathers aren’t “thugs”…many are professionals who have moved on…probably married outside their race…live in the suburbs and could care less about THEIR BIOLOGICAL BLACK SONS dying in the streets. It takes TWO to make a baby…not one.

      • seriously on said:

        It is the women who decided to have these babies and if these women/girls are abused as you say..They need counseling and mental help not a child that they are ill prepared to take care of financially and emotionally. Yes, most of the fathers of these children our deadbeats and thugs…If they were professional men, well atleast they are capable of paying child support and if a women do not go after them for child support, then she is a fool and too stupid to raise a child, let alone bear one.

        In addition they prime reason of violence in these communities is poverty, so if you cannot afford to have a child, what is wrong with birth control? So, yes it is these women’s fault for having babies with deadbeats and thugs as oppose to birth control and education. The men who sire these children is not coming back to raise them, because they have not been raised themselves and have nothing to offer these children. Like Lebron James, thanked his father for staying out of his life…Only things these deadbeats and thugs can show their sons is how to steal, kill and lie. For which they already know. However since these kids are in the care of their mothers it is up to them to raise their children. Don’t like it…Then this is the solution for women to stop having children with someone who will not be their for you and your child. Afterall, these women picked him…which only mirrors what she is…..

        However, so what if a black man marries outside of his race? Really? Only a self-hating nogrows is on that…I could careless…If black women do not like it, marry outside of your race too. Or think long and hard why some men marry outside their race…And it has nothing to do with disliking black women…But a lot to do with how they want their children raised, drama free lifestyles…Black Women cannot claim to be strong if they have babies they cannot afford and their children our dying in the streets. Because if you have babies you cannot afford, you will be clawing your way through life you and your children…What is strong about a decision like that!

  6. Instead of focusing on what’s happening in the real world….too many people are focused on what Beyoncé, Jay Z, Kim K, Kanye, Rhianna, the housewives, etc. are doing. People need to get a life, and focus on what’s really important. WHERE ARE THE CHURCH CONGREGATION, AND MINISTERS’ in this??!! As far as I’m concerned they should have more out reach programs. But in so many cases the ministers are too busy raising, and counting money, and the congregation is too busy sitting in church every Sunday listening to the SAME SERMONS they’ve heard for the last 40 years!!

  7. Slynn on said:

    There is a sense of hopelessness in Urban America. There is no one solution to the violence. Whate if every black man mentor at least one young boy. If we try and fail, at least we tried and if we suceed we could save Urban America. I challenge people everywhere to be apart of the solution and not the problem.

    • You have a very good point. But I’d like to add that as long as this type of behavior is glamorized in videos (Jay Z and Beyoncé’s latest), video games (Grand Theft Auto), music and movies, (pick one), there will be no end to what we are witnessing in the city of Chicago or any other US city. And to make it even more terrifying is that not only do children celebrate and imitate this kind of behavior, so do their parents. Were doomed.

    • @seriously: I hear yeah, and get what you are saying in your comments. However; there are numerous reasons why SOME black families are failing. For sure lots of women need to stop having babies they can’t afford, and men need to use condoms; but believe me…..POSITIVE MALE MENTORING NEVER HURT ANYONE!! Steve Harvey’s mentoring program comes to mind.

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