The War Zone

Everyone loves going to Chicago… (Wikipedia)

Last month, my family had our annual family reunion in northeast Iowa. We decided to have it at least every year because my grandmother and her sisters were the last survivors of their original family. We had a pleasant time…until the Sunday morning, when my mother’s cousin passed away suddenly. He was in failing health for several years. We went ahead and had Sunday dinner and the program, albeit in subdued fashion.

Most of us in Iowa didn’t know our cousins from Chicago very well, and they in return when it came to us. Nevertheless, all of us were talking and playing with each other, and established a good rapport.

I figured, at that time, that a death in a family is sad, but with time, we would appreciate the memories and important milestones that an individual had given to others.

I didn’t expect that I’ll have to do it again a month later.

Wednesday night, my mom called. Our cousin in Chicago learned her grandson was shot dead.

In the chest and in the head.

Sad? No. Upset? No. Pissed? Yes.

Not just pissed because he was dead, at 10 years of age. Someone pulled up in a car or walked towards him, and pulled the trigger. No regard for human life. Pissed off that the violence in Chicago over the past 7 years has turned into a war zone.

But most of all, pissed off at how all of America is glued to an incident in a suburb in St. Louis, Missouri, and no one gives a damn about the carnage in Chicago.

Black-on-black crime has increased over the last several years, but if a cop kills a black guy, all of America is up in arms. Over the 4th of July weekend, 82 people were shot in Chicago. Fifteen fatally.

Not one death was committed by a police officer.

The fifteen who were killed by gunfire were black. The suspects who gunned them down?


…but no one wants to be in a war zone, like the southside of Chicago. (YouTube)

As of Wednesday night, August 21st, there have been 251 deaths by violence in Chicago this year. Out of that 251, 198 victims were black, and out of that 198, 175 were by gunfire.

And there we were, advocating for gun control after Sandy Hook, Columbine, and Tucson. Funny on how people who are not destitute, poor, and not black, will galvanize against gun control.

Chicago? Who cares.

Here’s more: 140 of those 251 deaths were black males between the ages of 11 and 40. It’s humbling to think that I’ll have a better chance of living past 40 in a state like Iowa, but if I was in Chicago, I’m hoping I can get through the day…without hearing a gun go off.

I don’t see Antonio French, Amy K. Nelson, CNN, Fox News, or any media outlets having a panel discussion about these senseless deaths in Chicago, or in the black community as a whole. I don’t see black leaders reaching out to comfort the families of the victims, bodies strewn with bullets and blood.

I don’t see guilt-ridden apologetic liberal whites shaming each other for not being more “understanding” of blacks, while sitting in their nice homes within their white-picket fence neighborhoods.

Nor will you see sites like Anonymous, Vice, or groups like Amnesty International swooping in, digging up information, or providing shelter and support. Or Libertarians whining about fascism and police states.

As far as I’m concerned, all of you I mentioned can go to hell. 

Bomani Jones made an excellent point, after the Donald Sterling fiasco: we need to stop lying about our level of concern for race, and for that matter, domestic violence, sexism, any hot button topic. All of us are discriminatory in nature. Most of have been discriminated, some of us have discriminated others. And not it’s just whites towards blacks. Blacks are just as bad, if not worst.

We would have never cared about Sterling and his act…if not for a taped conversation by his black (yes, she was black!) mistress, who was trying to blackmail him. No one would have said a word about Ray Rice, if not for a video tape of him slugging his wife.

Had TMZ not released these videos, we wouldn’t have been interested in domestic violence and race. We would have been whistling down the street, like nothing happened.

People who act like they care about what’s going on in Ferguson, don’t give a damn about what’s going on down there, because it’s easy to wag your finger and say “we won’t tolerate this racism”, and then pat yourselves on the back for being good people, when in fact, you didn’t do a damn thing to foster change.

I can name off the people I know who are in that category, but I won’t. That’s not important.

When in the hell did we decide to become “conscious” about race? When Michael Brown was shot? Were you ever conscious of it before that happened? Or did a light bulb just went off in your head, and you’re afraid that if you don’t speak out against it, people will label you a racist?

Hypocrites.  All of us.

I had no intention to commenting about the events in St. Louis because there wasn’t anything I need to add to the “noise”. I find it amusing on how everyone is an “expert” on race relations, police brutality, and curfews.

With the death of a cousin, one that I vaguely knew but made an effort to know, this is my way in pointing out the absurdity and ignorance of our society. If it means pissing some friends off, so be it. It would be a pleasure in doing so.

And after this, I’m done with this topic. I’m moving on.

The real racism is more complex and hard to understand, if you’re willing to spend hours reading hard data and analysis reports like housing discrimination, gentrification, and socioeconomic factors.

After listening to Jones’ breakdown in late April, I pulled up Redeye, which has a homicide tracker for the city of Chicago. The Tribune and the Sun-Times have similar site, chronicling the stories of victims. Since 2007, there has been 3, 564 murders in Chicago. African-Americans make up 74.1% of those deaths.

There isn’t an outcry in the media? Why?  Because it’s not the sensationalized, ratings-grabber that television is providing for us from a suburb in St. Louis.

Hypocrites.  All of us.

Acting like we care about one big thing, and ignoring the real serious issues that has a far major impact for everyone.

This isn’t just about race.  It’s economics, class, and survival.

The rules of Darwin.

The middle class is dead. No, it’s not coming back. The President and elected officials are not going to save it.

It’s the “haves” versus the “have-nots”.

Most of my Des Moines friends…got the “haves”. Me? I’m barely hanging on as a “have-not”. And do you think that most of them care? Privately, I believe they don’t, but they’ll give you that “empathetic” look to make you feel better.

“As long as it’s not me” is their motto.

That’s what the southside of Chicago is right now…a war zone and an example of what happens when the socioeconomic balance is out-of-whack: people fighting for survival, as everyone else gets on the freeway, drive from their quaint homes in the suburbs or Beaverdale, to work and back, without having to drive through the Drake or River Bend neighborhoods.

It’s why young professionals are against new downtown housing having rent-control pricing. “We don’t want poor people living next door to us upwardly mobile well-to-do successful people.” It’s why people who are trying to find a better life and livelihood for the families are denied a chance to move into a better neighborhood and home, and are regulated into remaining in an area where there is no hope and no promise for anyone.

We got a problem…and we continue to ignore it.

And while you’re ignoring it and watching to see if another tear gas gets tossed into the street…

…I have to remember and grieve for a cousin I hardly knew, and was hoping to get to know more about.

Have fun.