Every time I hear about the death of a young person murdered on the streets of inner-city America, I’m often reminded about the murder of my own brother 13 years ago in St. Louis, Mo. Although most of us are shocked by the brutality inflicted on the streets in urban areas throughout this country, I’m not. I’ve lost my own brother to violence and, as a child growing up in inner city St. Louis, I’ve attended too many funerals to even keep count. Sadly, the only way I am able to remember to this day is to count the number of obituaries that have piled up on my closet shelf.
I recently read an article that highlights the epidemic of violence that so many youth often fall victim to. What’s happening in the city of Chicago illustrates the point. With about three months left in the current school year, the number of Chicago Public School students slain totals more than 30 and already exceeds the total for all of last year.
While most of the killings have taken place on neighborhood streets and not during school hours, it is incredible to imagine that in a school year 30 school children could have been the victim of violence. But let’s be clear: the problem of youth violence is much bigger than the public school system. It is truly a community issue that requires the resources and efforts of parents, schools, teachers and community members who refuse to harbor criminals or provide an excuse for the violence in our communities.
Truthfully, I’m heartbroken by the number of children we lose each year to violence and the fact that this has been an ongoing problem for years with no signs of slowing. I have no idea if at the end of the day anyone truly cares about the suffering inflicted in our inner-cities. Maybe it’s the cynic in me who has seen this violence spiral for years with no signs of stopping. Maybe it’s the sister in me who has lost a brother to violence or maybe it’s the mother in me who has sons that refuses to allow them to be statistics. All I know is it’s time we do more. That we say enough is enough. The problems and violence are too rampant to allow this type of behavior to continue.
I could spend the rest of this post on the issue and the solutions but I believe we all know what they are. For once, I would like to take some time for us to remember the victims because it’s important to show a human side to the statistics, the heartache of mothers and fathers and families, and the devastation to our communities that stems from the death and potential of so many youth who could have transformed our communities, and even our world, in ways we can’t imagine or will never know. And for this, we should all feel sad. We are all failing our kids.
Click on the link below to take a look at the gallery of photos of Chicago Public School children who’ve lost their lives to violence this school year.(You may need to cut and paste the entire link into your browser)