What Can Stop Chicago Violence?

In Chicago's toughest neighborhoods, some black men find themselves more likely to be picked up by an ambulance than a cab.

After last Thursday's deadly string of shootings, folks are scratching their heads about why this trend of violence won't cease. Meanwhile, folks argue in blog comment boxes about which solution is the best. Some are for gun control, while others subscribe to the mantra of "Guns Don't Kill People (People Kill People)". Whatever the argument may be, there has been a lot of talk and not enough action - that is, until you meet Syron Smith.

Syron Smith believes that we can fight crime by selling toilet paper. No, don't adjust your eyes or click on another blog post. There's a good reason behind this. He uses his non-for-profit organization, The National Block Club University, to create jobs for at-risk youth. One of those jobs involves selling and delivering toilet paper. But Syron wants to do more than "wipe away" crime one roll at a time; Instead, he wants to change the way young people see the world.

A few times a year, Smith takes children on special trips to cities like Atlanta and New York. He does this because of his past experiences in the military. For him, "exposure" is one of things that inner-city children lack in shaping their perspective on life. If children can see themselves going beyond the boundaries of Chicago, then they will aspire to do more with their lives.

He inspired me to see what I can do in my neighborhood to make it better. Sure, it will take much more than toilet paper and field trips to stop the violence. But the violence can stop, once we stop the excuses.