“People killing, people dying, children hurt, and you hear them crying. Can you practice what you preach, or would you turn the other cheek? Father, Father, Father, help us, send some guidance from above. Cuz people got me, got me questioning, ‘Where is the love’?”
These heartfelt lyrics from the single “Where is the Love?” by the Black Eyed Peas came to my mind when I heard about the tragedy which befell Chicago during the 4th of July weekend.
84 hours. 84 shootings. One shooting per hour occurred in the streets of Southside, West side, and even, North side Chicago during the 4th of July weekend. The shocking news, according to USAToday.com, is that the number of homicides has decreased since last year. However, the number of shootings has increased from 833 in June 2013 to 880 shootings as of June 29, 2014.
As the news of the bloody holiday weekend continuously flashes across my television screen and social media, I’m wondering if anyone else is seeing what I’m seeing. I see this news as a cry for help from Chicago. This city – which is now referred by some as “Chiraq,” (a combination of Chicago and Iraq) – has endured extreme amounts of gun violence and was also named the bloodiest city in the nation since 2012. Without question, our brothers and sisters seriously need our help. But what can we do?
What Can Be Done
Tuesday evening, the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, III, the prominent pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ, located on Chicago’s South Side, spoke about the issue of the homicides with MSNBC’s Ed Shultz. Pastor Moss reiterated that churches must hold elected officials accountable. Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has made reducing the amount of gun violence one of his top priorities; however the city has not seen much change. (According to USA Today, one of the fatal shootings took place down the street from Emanuel’s home, on the north side of Chicago, which does not witness even a quarter of the bloodshed that other Chicago areas witness.)
Roland Martin suggests that if these 16 homicides that occurred on the south and west sides of Chicago had occurred on the North side, the country would really be in an upset. What will it take for us to show compassion for our children in these seemingly forgotten areas of Chicago?
Reverend Moss says that we must realize that these children are just as important as the Sandy Hook children, and just as important as the children in Israel. Therefore, we must begin taking action in our schools, and churches – the two grounds that constantly bring communities together. During his interview he makes some suggestions that could decrease gun violence. There has to be economic investment; pay for teachers in the impoverished schools should be increased, and given more resources. We can invest in the students at historically black colleges – bringing these students back to Chicago, connecting them with major corporations for jobs, and then sending them out into the city’s public schools to mentor and educate. The children of Chicago have to see it to believe it. There must be some positive role models to imitate, which leads to Reverend Moss’ last suggestion of a Hip-Hop Progressive Movement. Our hip-hop artists that come from other impoverished areas of the country must stand up and show some compassion, write lyrics that disgrace the acts of violence and do not enhance the violence. It is time for a change. Are we going to wait until the entire city is wiped out to do something about this tragic reoccurrence?
What Is Being Done
For the past couple of years, New Beginnings Church of South Side Chicago, led by Pastor Corey Brooks has initiated a movement entitled Project H.O.O.D (Helping Others Obtain Destiny). The organization originally started as a campaign to raise $450,000 for the purchase of land where a run-down, crime ridden Motel 6 stood at 6625 South King Drive in Southside Chicago. Through the church’s “SHUT EM DOWN” campaign, Pastor Brooks and his congregation have closed the motel and strategically persisted in building a place of positivity for the Woodlawn neighborhood to unite and live without fear.
When discussing this issue of violence in a political environment, the conservative side believes that there needs to be more attention on what goes on in the ‘black family.’ The liberal side says we should leave the problem in the hands of our elected officials, or elect our officials according to their plans to somehow decrease the violence, because that’s their job.
I would suggest that by coming together as a community we have the ability to diminish this homicide high that the city of Chicago has been on for the past couple of years. Our communities can open youth centers, or churches and schools could hold late night study sessions/game nights/sporting events to help keep children off of the streets. We can try to hold President Obama accountable, as a native of Chicago. We can hold Mayor Emanuel accountable too. However we do it we must remember these are ALL of our children, and we must act accordingly. It won’t happen overnight, but there is much work to be done.