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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chicago's black youth living in fear on South Side

Kids who used to stand outside are now afraid to be on the streets of Chicago, said one South Side youth. (Photo taken in the 1990's by Kurk Johnson)

"Things are getting ridiculous on the South Side of Chicago," said a recent high school graduate. I met a beautiful 18 year old girl visiting relatives in metro Atlanta who is from Chicago. I asked, "Is crime up there as bad as they're reporting?"
"Yes, it's very bad in my neighborhood and also in Detroit. There have been hundreds of crimes committed since school let out, mostly gang related."

"What are the gangs doing? Are these crimes drug related?" I asked.

"It's petty crimes, stealing whatever they can to sell for money. Violent crimes are also being committed in retaliation for what one gang member has done to a rival gang member.

"Parents are instilling the wrong things into their children. Twelve to seventeen year olds left on their own have turned to gang banging while school is out. Before that, my 12 year old sister was robbed of her cell phone on the way to school, and her cell phone didn't even work," said the young woman who didn't want to be identified. She lives near S. Lowe where my uncle lives.

What does this young woman think will remedy the situation?  "Instilling proper lifestyles." She worries about her younger siblings "who aren't allowed to go outside for fear they'll get in the mix of crime and violence."

I asked her whether there was a Boys and Girls Club nearby, and she said, "No. Our leaders must create programs to keep kids active and off the streets."

This young woman had an innocent yet puzzled look on her face when I spoke to her. Both of us were grasping for answers. "I don't feel afraid or nervous for my own safety because I've lived there a long time and know how to stay away from certain situations, but I'm afraid for my younger brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.

"I live with this everyday, fear for their safety, but I feel it will get better."

She is maintaining  her sense of positiveness amidst anxiety.


  1. George says: I think the question has to be asked as to why we can rally so passionately around the Trayvon story, but we seem to loose the passion when it comes to black on black crime, and what we can do to help ourselves. Why can't we attach the black problem to the Trayvon outrage, since we are so focused at this moment,  just maybe we can bring about some real change.

  2. There's an element of greed here that is very strong, when you combine it with the lack of identity and purpose, which many of our young men and women suffer from, the combination becomes deadly! Keep in mind, the original Conservative Vice Lords (CVL) were a successful social experiment in the sixties, spawning educational and nutrition programs in depressed areas of the Chi. However greed entered into the picture and the group transformed into a criminal empire funded by the government. Fast forward to present times (2013) when handguns are much more readily available than a quality education and you find us in the middle of a cross-fire. The achievement gap is widening, mass incarceration and privatization of the prisons constantly demands that new bodies fill them and were losing political ground each and every day. Dyson, Gates, Smiley, West, Sharpton can call attention to our condition and injustice all day, but until we take it to the streets and re-program (and I do mean Re-Program) our young, we will continue to wander in the desert. We are in a figurative (and in some instances) literal 40 year wandering period, much like the Biblical Israelites. And we will continue to wander until we get it right.

  3. George C. says:I found the following story on the NPR iPhone App: Emergency Summit On Urban Violence Opens In Chicago by Natalie Moore, NPR - July 27, 2013
    Rep. Robin Kelly, one of the hosts of the urban violence summit in Chicago, said at the outset Friday that this wouldn't be just another summit....

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