The Abandoned Black Lives of Chicago

The headlines related to race over the last month are fixed on statues – but the real racial issues facing America include the abandoned Blacks of Chicago. Almost every day we read of murders. The sad thing is that very little has changed since I left Chicago 35 years ago.

Recently, Adriana Diaz of CBSN filed a report called the “Guns of Chicago.”  It shed light on the issue of violence in Chicago and caused me to remember my life experiences with the violence in Chicago.

I was born at Cook County Hospital. I was raised by my mom, a single parent (Janet White). The deck was already stacked against me growing up on the south side of Chicago. I saw numerous shootings and lost two friends to street violence before I was sixteen years old. I escaped Chicago at seventeen by joining the United States Air Force.

I can recall telling my mother, “I would rather be paid to get shot at than to get shot at for free.” So, l left Chicago in November of 1982. After seeing the CBSN report, it seems like very little has changed.  Young Blacks are still being murdered daily.

There is a system at play, particularly on the south side of Chicago. It is a system that has endured since I walked those same streets and walked passed abandoned buildings. Now I realize it isn’t just abandoned buildings on the south side, it’s filled with abandoned people too.

I watched and listened to the young people in the CBSN report. It is obvious that they are growing up knowing nothing but violence and living a lifestyle that could make a Spartan faint.  They see their broken mindset reinforced everyday by the countless shootings and murders and an endless assault on their senses by the blare of sirens from the first responders all around them.

I can only imagine who I might be if I had remained in Chicago any longer than I did. I would most likely be dead. So many of my family and friends have never left Chicago. Conformity is essential to survival and given the environment these young people are provided with, it sustains a culture of “Kill or be Killed.”  It is facilitated by those who have the power to make a change, but as I said earlier, it doesn’t seem like anything has changed.

When I left Chicago, I was whisked away to San Antonio, Texas to Lackland AFB, where I entered the Air Force and Basic Training.  It was more like re-education. While I was but a lowly recruit, an “Airman Basic,” I felt much safer than I ever had.

The longer I stayed away from the battlefield of Chicago, even when I was learning the low crawl to dodge possible enemy fire in boot camp, the more I began to see it was possible to be anything I wanted. That there is more to life than just Chicago. The stress and rigors of training were welcomed as opposed to the stress and rigors of just making it home from school alive.

So, exactly how is all of that possible?

How is it that such a cauldron of death could persist for so many years without the attention or needed action from the city, state, and national leaders? How can Black celebrities decry the conditions of Black’s due to perceived racism and not use their celebrity to bring attention to this crime against humanity?

Why are we worried about statues but not lives?

It’s like a raging fire that is allowed to burn and the occasional fire crew responds only to keep it from spreading to other areas.

We are asked to care more about Syria than Cicero Ave. – more about Honduras than Halsted Ave. The current Mayor of Chicago adds insult to injury by supporting an idea that Chicago become a “Sanctuary City.”

Where was my sanctuary city when I was almost beat to death because I would not join a gang? Where is their “Sanctuary City” now for our children so they can put down the guns and be shown that there is so much more to life?

With so much blood and death soaked into the very walls in the inner city, it will take a national effort to begin to heal the Americans trapped in the war zone that is Chicago aka Chiraq.

Former President Obama reasoned with Cuba that, “the tactics of the old days weren’t working so it was time to do something new.”  Looking at the condition of Chicago, under long rule of the Democrat party, it’s time to do something new – for the sake of our children.

CBSN: On Assignment – Adriana Diaz- “Guns of Chicago”

Share With: