I receive a lot of texts of concern about being careful a midst the continuing gun violence here in chicago. and I appreciate them. i really do. but it’s not me that needs your prayers as much as these kids do. i am not in a gang (80% of shootings gang related) and i live north (of the 500+ homicides last year none of them took place on the north side of the city).
however i do choose to walk life with kids who are in the midst of gang violence in the more affected parts of the city, and here’s the truth…as many of you have heightened your level of concern for what is taking place in chicago as a result of the national coverage of the young lady who was a part of the presidential inaugural celebration just last week, and shot dead this week, she was the 42nd homicide here this month. wait…you mean you didn’t hear about 1-41? it’s probably because they weren’t at the inauguration, or because they were young black males living by the sword and subsequently dying by it.
i was at the inauguration last week too. it was beautiful. it was the first time i felt like the country was united. 1 million people packed in together to celebrate democracy, without incident. and then i returned to chicago and a few days later received a text saying that 3 more of the young men i and many others serve as mentors where shot. right, 3 MORE. this is not the first text of this kind that i have received. just 3 months ago 2 other mentees were shot. i’ve visited 4 different young men in the hospital since. and i’m tired of telling them that everything will be okay and to let the police do their job instead of them trying to retaliate. i’m tired. and this has only been a part of my reality for the last 4yrs or so. imagine what these kids feel like having been born and raised in such an environment?
The shooting of Hadiya Pendleton is a tragedy and my heart goes out to her family and friends. her death deserves national attention. it’s also a tragedy that it took 20 kids being slaughtered in newtown, ct, before we could have serious discussions about gun violence in this country. 270 kids have been victims of gun violence here in chicago over the last 3 years. the difference is those children in newtown or Hadiya are not gun wielding “thugs” that look like me. that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same attention from the nation.
these gang-bangers are largely misguided youth looking for direction and not finding any in their homes or communities. but i can tell you first hand that they too can still be saved. not all the young men i walk with find themselves in gangs or hospitals or caskets. some of them find themselves in college as a result of the work of people who have not written this generation off and people who are not afraid to insert themselves into the lives of young men and young women in distress.
so thanks so much for the continued prayers of concern for my personal well being…but while you are at it…say a prayer for whoever pulled the trigger that killed young Hadiya, or for the young men i and others walk life on life with in hospitals recovering. pray for them too. Lord knows they need it way more than i do.