Over the Labor Day weekend, Chicago hit that tragic number: 500 homicides.
Nearly all of those killed were black men, shot to death in alleys and on street corners by other black men. It’s time to have a talk with African-Americans.
It should be clear by now that no one is coming to our rescue. African-Americans have demanded that our police keep us safe. They can’t. We have begged our elected officials to invest in our neighborhoods with jobs. They won’t. We have lain down in the streets in protest, pleading for our men to stop killing each other. But they don’t.
No one is saying that African-Americans should solely bear the responsibility for the violence. The senseless killing of residents in any part of the city impacts all of us in the long run. Chicago can only be its best when each part operates at its full potential. Police, the mayor and aldermen in the most violent wards should be held accountable, but African-Americans have the most at stake.
Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says it’s impoverished people, those without hope who are responsible for the city’s surge in homicides. But contrary to what he says, this isn’t just a social issue. It is also a police issue and an African-American issue.
There’s no denying that African-American men — the ones driving Chicago’s homicide numbers — are disproportionately affected by unemployment, lack of opportunity and a long list of other injustices that flow from systemic racism.
Certainly, a man with a job who’s able to take care of his family the way he’s supposed to would be less likely to walk up and shoot another man in the head over something as trivial as a disrespectful Facebook post.
But as African-Americans, we can’t afford to sit back and blame the genocide of our community on societal woes. There are impoverished communities in every city and town in America — always have been — but residents aren’t going around shooting each other to death at the rate we are in Chicago.
Do struggling black men in New York and Los Angeles have more hope than struggling black men in Chicago? I don’t think so. The economic prospects for African-American men aren’t much better there either. Yet Chicago has had more homicides this year than those two cities combined.
So there has to be something else to consider, something other than being poor that accounts for the senseless killings of people in Chicago day after day.
For one thing, criminals know they can get away with it.
If we are going to end the cycle of violence, African-Americans must make some tough choices about what we will sacrifice to save the lives of a generation. Boys are joining gangs younger and younger. What risks are we willing to take to keep our children away from their grip?
Source: Chicago Tribune | Dahleen Glanton