Pop. Pop. Pop.
Gun shots continue to whistle through the gentrified air of the windy city while families mourn their children on a daily basis. The crisis in Chicago may have reached its apex due to the endless stream of black blood and bodies flooding the city's streets and morgues.
The history of Chicago begins with a black man named Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. He founded the city during the latter half of the 18th Century. For the last 100 years, it has become the canvass for culture and a haven for unprecedented criminal activity. I wonder what he, Fred Hampton, and other freedom fighters from these hallow grounds would say if they could see their city today immersed in modern day genocide.
The death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton has brought Chicago to the forefront of the national conversation on gun control reform and gun violence. Pendleton performed at the Presidential Inauguration two weeks ago. Last Tuesday, she was gunned down as a bystander to a shooting less than a mile from her home.
As history reveals, she unfortunately isn't the first victim to gun violence in this thriving metropolis. Since 1991, there have been 14,160 deaths from gun violence in Chicago. Of the 14,160 who've died, 10,116 were black victims, which equates to 71 percent of the total deaths, 72 percent died from gun violence, and 66 percent of the offenders were black. Only 1,410 died from stabbings during this time period. Most of the victims were males between the ages of 14-35. 1970 through 1973, Chicago averaged over 800 homicides and, in 1974, Chicago experienced its highest recorded death total with 970 homicides.
This problem has existed for three generations with no end in sight. The public outcry has grown louder in the past few months. The recent unspeakable tragedies of Shirley Chambers losing all her children and Hadiya Pendleton have finally caste a candescent light on the incessant, senseless gun violence happening on the streets of Chicago. Surely, the plethora of black children dying from gun violence every day can spark as much outrage as the 20 children who were killed in Newtown, Connecticut. Right?
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other noteworthy leaders have been haphazard in their methods to eradicate the destructive forces that remain in these communities. This is President Obama's hometown and he has briefly mentioned the crisis going on, but the onus must fall on the community leaders, who are getting paid to represent these districts to find a remedy to this plague. What is clear to the country is their current plans are demonstrably failing. Chicago has some of the most stringent gun laws in the country despite what the statistical data reads for murders. Last year, more people were killed in Chicago than in war torn Afghanistan. There have been 42 deaths this year from gun violence thus far. Chicago is already outpacing their homicide totals from last year and the majority of the victims are black.
Black children and young adults face numerous obstacles at home and in the classroom. Many seem to live in a constant state of hopelessness and fear not only from their own people, but the larger society. Black-on-Black violence has been a longstanding issue since the late 1960s when the FBI led a program known as COINTELPRO that eviscerated any remnants of the Civil Rights movement and, in the process, black communities in inner cities nationwide started turning into graveyards for children, men and women under the age of 30.
Compounding the issue has been the abject failure of the War on Drugs program that continues to decimate families in Chicago. The opportunities to succeed are few and far between. High school graduating rates hover around the 50 percent mark for black students and unemployment rates are twice the national average. In the past three decades, gang membership has increased. The inevitable violence that results from it has been a calamitous bacterium that continues to fester on the city's infrastructure. After President Ronald Reagan was elected in the early 1980s, many arts and after-school programs were slashed. As a result, more black children became victims to their increasingly tumultuous, savage surroundings. The system became the ultimate hindrance rather than a deft helper.
When are things going to change for the better? Chicago police confiscated 7,400 guns in 2012 and 574 since January 1. But this barely puts a dent in total of guns that are purchased outside the city limits through illegal means. Every little bit helps the situation, but a definitive solution must be found incontinently. Some steps in the right direction would include improving the educational system by paying teachers more, bringing back after-school programs to decrease the amount of teenagers participating in gang related activities, and creating new job opportunities.
These things could go a long way in resurrecting a proud city. Leaders and activists who are besieged by all this violence have to carry on with the arduous work of uplifting the younger generation out of their impoverished conditions to ensure their city rises from the ashes like a phoenix.
This may be easier said than done, but an effort must be made on all fronts by those in power to prevent more senseless deaths. Enough is enough. Too many black children have died. It is time to end this madness once and for all.