Monday, July 8, 2013

Clever Disguises

I was speaking with an old friend today; a friend that I have known since I was an idealistic twenty-something. We had been through the end of the 60’s, the hopeful 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and onto a new millennium. This morning, while a downpour kept me from weeding my garden, we reflected upon the fact that nothing has changed…not really and that sometimes the labels we give things change but we need to look more deeply into the TRUTH of what they are.

For instance, I lived in Liberia, West Africa for 11 years and escaped during the early months of the tragic Liberian Civil War. People call that heroic, I certainly didn’t feel hero-ish. What I felt like was a person responding in the best way possible to protect my family. And while that experience, at least on the surface, seemed unique at the time; I don’t see what happens in West Africa and South Africa worlds apart from the happenings on the West Side and the South Side of Chicago.

Is there really a difference between the disregard for the development of “ethnic” human capital in Liberia and colonial South Africa to what is happening to youth in Chicago, particularly on the South and West Sides? HOW can the crime rate be at its lowest in 14 years according the superintendent of police, while residents of the South and West Sides of the city live in constant fear? That not only points to, it screams, at something deep and systemic that needs addressing. More police can’t fix this.

By systemic I mean, the school system, the social services system, the system of state, county, city government and the criminal 'just us' system need fixing. I would submit that what is happening on the West and South Sides of Chicago (and elsewhere among people of darker hues and lower class) are really cups of “the same soup being poured deceptively into different bowls.”


What I have decided to DO is:
1. to snitch on anyone hurting my community that I’m aware of
2. to continue to inspire and educate my older children and to support them in raising my grands
3. to work with others that want to reclaim the south side community that I call home
4. to help the young men that live nearest to me to find a better path forward

Perhaps crime will continue to rise (on the South and West Sides of the City), and perhaps our children will continue to be fed into the system of slavery that is cleverly disguised as the criminal “justice” system. But at least I will be able to rest my head on my pillow at night knowing that I DID what I felt capable of DOING.

For every person that reads this post, I would challenge you to look into your life and decide not what you can say, but what you are willing to DO.