This past weekend Shirley Chambers lost her child, Ronnie, to gun violence in Chicago. This was her last living child, her other three were also killed: Carlos, 18, in 1995, LaToya, 15, in 2000, and Jerome, 23, in 2000. From the articles I read, Carlos, LaToya and Jerome had no affiliations with any gangs, Ronnie was previously affiliated, however, he had exited that life and sought to do better for himself. You can read one article here.
Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was killed this week. I just read that article today, you can read it here. She had just performed at the inauguration in Washington D.C. So far, there have been 42 homicides in January. A great way to start 2013 right?
Everyone who reads my blog knows I go down to Humboldt Park. The murders mentioned above didn’t happen in Humboldt Park, but it’s a neighborhood that isn’t a stranger to this violence, it is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. I speak of it very fondly. To be honest, I do think it is a beautiful neighborhood. There is a beautiful park, a museum in the original Von Humboldt stables. The food is great, the artwork and the Puerto Rican culture. People who don’t go to these areas don’t see that they are beautiful and have wonderful things to offer!
However, these areas are plauged with violence that most of us will never understand. Don’t ever mistake my fond and happy stories for the neighborhood being safe. When I go down there, I go in the mornings and do what I can to remain unnoticed. The violence and danger down there is overwhelming and I don’t say this to make it seem like I’m some brave person, faceing death! I am nothing of the sort, but I say this to explain the violence to those who aren’t familiar with the area. Humboldt Park has had one of the highest homicide rates in the entire city since 2008 and the people who live down there are the braves ones.
I’ve grown up in the suburbs all of my life, just about 45 minutes outside of the city if traffic is good. I can never begin to imagine what its like to not be able to leave the house at night, to have children afraid to play in their own yard, even during the day, but that is what day-to-day life is like. Gunshots are a sound people hear often, just imagine living near that.
Living in violence like this, growing up in violence, most of us have absolutely no idea what that is like. Reading a story and saying oh that’s sad, oh another story about a gang shooting, that’s one thing, but this was someones daughter, someone son. Imagine if you found your child, your parent, your sister, your brother in the street, having them die in your arms. Imagine not being able to leave your home because of the risk of being shot just because you decided to step out on your front porch at the wrong time.
Some people may think that Ronnie knew his consequences of his previous affiliations, that being killed is a consequence of leaving and it was his fault, his choice. There are consequences for your actions, but on one deserves to die.
These stories, this problem isn’t just and “oh that’s too bad”, this problem is so immense, so terrible there are no words to describe it. We should be screaming in outrage, using our voices for the young children who have none or those who have been killed, the families trying to do right by their kids, trying to send them to a Chicago Public School which everyone knows is an awful. The schools need so much reform, I’m not expert on that, my sister who is studying to be a teacher does, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know how awful the education is.
Do a news search and see what violence is going on in your nearest city, if you go on Google news and type in Chicago gang violence, over 15,000 news articles come up. We finished 2012 with 506 homicides and our mayor is doing a lot of talk and not really doing anything.
I started crying after reading these articles. We as people should get involved. We are all united, connected so we must not remain silent! We must act! Do something! Get involved! Find a cause, maybe your calling is not with this violence but violence overseas, human trafficking, rescuing animals, get involved! If you disagree with something, post a status, donate newspaper, clothing you no longer wear, $5, $1 million! Don’t disagree with something and do nothing about it. Just because awful things happen in this world, doesn’t mean we have to remain silent.
I saw this quote and fell in love with it. It said “I speak my mind because it hurts to bite my tongue”. If you are silent, stop biting your tongue and speak out against injustice, there will be less pain and more pride in what you do and a chain reaction will start.
I started collecting clothing for Women at Risk International. I would encourage people to visit and drop of their dontations themselves because they should see what an amazing store it is, but I offered to pick up donations for those who lived far away from the store or were busy. I ended up receiving 4 large garbage bags full of clothing, I mean packed full. Then one of my friends decided to text 40 people and post a status on Facebook about it and now she is collecting clothing. Then she told me that one of her friends who she messaged want to get involved in WAR (Women at Risk). By telling one person and sharing posts on Facebook, other people are now getting involved.
One of my friends said I was an inspiration. I am not an inspiration or anything close to that. The women and men who survive trafficking are inspirations, children who survive the violence in the inner city, former gang members who turn their life around and change, former drug addicts or alcoholics who took the steps to end their addiction, the brave cats and dogs who are rescued and the people who adopts them, people like my boyfriend, who remain positive through every single hardship and injustice they have faced, doing everything to change their life for the better and never looking back. THEY are the inspirations. I just have made the choice to not keep my mouth shut, I’ve stopped biting my tongue and I have acted. Most of the time it is reposting status on Facebook, keeping people aware of what is going on, making them think.
Release your tongue and speak your mind, be the voice for the voiceless. Get involved.
As always, I would love to hear about what you are involved in!