A few days ago, a teen-aged girl who performed at Obama’s inauguration was gunned down in a park near Obama’s Chicago home. Since then, there have been numerous articles written, FB memorial pages founded, and outraged posts about the need to stop gun and gang violence in Chicago. Recent statistics I’ve read in local Chicago newspapers have cited that we have surpassed the 2002 gun-related deaths for January. There was even a well-publicized protest at the UChicago Medical Center to demand that the University reopen its trauma center, and not doing so is unjust and racist to the local community that desperately needs it, mostly for injuries related to gun violence.
I should say first and foremost that the girl’s death is an absolute tragedy. It’s just as tragic as the murders of every other child caught in the cross-fire of gang violence in Chicago’s South Side. None of them deserve it; they should be able to feel safe in their own homes and neighborhoods.
That being said, I can’t help but feel mildly bemused by the calls for action and change. I will be the first to say that things need to be different. Starting with stricter gun control laws and more police action. But even those are incredibly vague goals that will take months to result in any real, observable change. Moreover, most of the outrage is being slung by people in these neighborhoods. Friends of the victims, mentors and teachers. It might be harsh or over-reaching for me to say this, but for crying out loud, they are your friends, children and students that are shooting each other! When did social responsibility go out the window? I feel like those individuals, in the communities, have the greatest ability to impart change in their own communities by dealing directly with the gang members. Tell on them to the police! Lock them up! I don’t know exactly, but to cry out to lawmakers and appeal to the public not experiencing this is not going to help much. Because their solution and their change is slow, but community action can be swift and strong.
And lastly, if the individuals in these communities want to be heard and taken more seriously, stop memorializing the dead gang members. I couldn’t give two shits if Lil JoJo was gunned down last month; he was in a gang. By his choice. I cannot understand the pressures or obstacles experienced by individuals living in these communities, but it is these communities that are breeding the gangs. It has nothing to do with slavery from 150 years ago or Jim Crow laws in the 1950s. To blame such history is to put responsibility for these heinous gangs on the previous generation. Stand up and do something about it instead of looking back for the cause of the problem. Nothing can change history but regular, every day people sure as hell have the ability to change the present and the future.