The Color Run!

This weekend was a blast!  My best friend Kristiii wanted to do this 5k called the Color Run.  As you run, they have color stations set up where they spray you with colored corn starch.  There is music and events before the race and after.

Two of her friends, who I’ve gotten to know as well, came in from Indiana to join us so it was a busy weekend.  Friday we were out, Saturday they came to visit the bird rescue with me, Sunday was the race and one of our friends adopted a little yellow parakeet after!

We get to the race early, wander around, listening to the music, anxious for it to start.  Finally, they say we can head toward the starting line so we join the massive crowd of white shirts.  People really went all out, there were colorful tutus, boas, bright hair and a unicorn wandering about.

The course was simple, the stations with color were easily seen by the clouds of dust spilling out over the city (they brought 20,000 lbs).  Running through the stations, volunteers, completely coated in their assigned color, tossed, sprayed and covered the runners.

After we finished, we all were given packets of color and we headed toward the stage to listen to music.  Every so often they’d prep the crowd, throw out more color packets and at the same moment everyone would open them and spill them over the crowed and we’d all be engulfed in a mass of dust and bodies.

By the time we left, we were like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown.  Our own personal dust cloud followed us where ever we went.  Before leaving, we headed over to the blowing station where we were partially cleaned with a leaf blower.

With our skin still stained blue and green, we walked back to the parking garage.  It took us forever to find out how to get back inside and once we did that, we discovered the car died.  The inside lights had been left on.

An hour later we were on our way after jumping the car.  Then off to the bird rescue.  We walked in.   3 of my relative were there and they got a kick out of seeing all of us.

I was so tired afterward, I fell right asleep after lunch.

It was such a fun day and I am so glad can’t wait to do this again next year!

♥Meggieleg

Perspective

This post is going to be a bit of a rant, so I’m warning you now! 🙂

Yesterday I had a group project for my Spanish class.  We did our presentation on the Chicago Public School system’s proposal to close 54 schools and 7 programs and then on the actual vote where they decided to close 48 elementary schools and 1 high school program.  These schools are located in low-income, violence plagued areas.

There is one girl in our class who is just a bit cocky, a bit of a know-it-all, but she’s not mean.  She just thinks she knows the majority of things in the world and gets on people’s nerves, but since she isn’t a cruel person, no one dislikes her.  For example, there is one professor that everyone rates with all 5’s on the end of the term evaluation, even students he has failed rate him that high because he is so enthusiastic, funny and just an over all great teacher.  She gives him 3s.

You just have to know the type of person she is to get why this story irks me so much.  After we presented, we were asked our opinions on the topic so my friend Melissa and I, who have very strong opinions on the Mayor of Chicago and these neighborhoods because we actually go there and see these places, answered first.  We both were talking about the corruption in the government, then flaws with the budget because you can never reallocate money because you won’t get it back next year since we have a punitive system and the fact that these areas are discriminated against.

So this other girl says it is also about how the schools are doing, which we mentioned several times in the presentation, and how it’s better if they close because then the kids can get better education elsewhere and if the entire neighborhood is bad, then it won’t make a difference how far they walk.  THEN she justified all of this by stating she worked in Cicero.  All I can say is -_________-

For those of you who don’t know, first of all the Chicago Public School system is literally a joke.  It is so hard to give any of these low-income schools funding and the education provided really gives these kids little to work with in the first place and Cicero is in Cook County so they fall under the same school system.  Cicero is also a lower-income area however it is not in the actually city, just in Cook County and there is a higher crime rate and gang problems there.

However, I would rather stand in the streets of Cicero in the middle of the night with a sign that says “shoot me” then go to some of these city neighborhoods at 5pm.  The crime is so much worse.  When I drive to Humboldt Park, I have to go through the residential part of the neighborhood of East Garfield and I don’t stop my car.   I blow stop signs because the men on the corners who are dealing drugs are terrifying and I’m not stopping near them (as a quick note, not everyone walking around these neighborhoods are drug dealers or gang member obviously, but you can tell a lot of the time by colors and how they act when a car pulls up).  Humboldt Park makes Cicero look like Naperville (for those who don’t know, Naperville is a high income suburb of Chicago.  It’s just beautiful, massive houses and a land of Audi’s, BMW’s, Mercedes and Country Clubs, lol.  I do recommend the downtown if you ever are in the area though.  The River Walk is beautiful).

Not only that, if these kids are going to a higher income school in the city, the will most likely be discriminated against and blamed if something goes wrong in the school.  That happens were I live, in the suburbs and that is for another blog and it will happen in the city as well.  You can even see it in movies such as the Freedom Writers (which I highly recommend).

She was not saying that to be mean and I understand that.  She just does not understand the level of violence these children must withstand.  They are literally fighting for their lives, the soldiers of Chicago.  It is frustrating to me when people speak as if they know these places when they have never been there.  It does matter the distance because that is 1 more block that these kids have to walk before being in a safer place which is their school.  That is one more block where they could be shot, mugged or inducted into a gang.  Also, each block as certain affiliations and if you have a family member in one gang but you are not involved and are forced to cross into the “rival’s” territory, you are a threat that is going to be targeted, or if you wear the wrong colors or are the wrong skin color.  Then there are different rules for different genders.

I’ll tell the story again of my boyfriend who has no affiliations with any gang and only hung out with friends in some of these neighborhoods.  He fell asleep against the window and that pushed his hat to one side and that side was the wrong side so a man on the street tried to kick the door of the car in and this was because his hat was slanted to one side.

Please think about what these kids go through.  In the streets there are gambling dice and needles and pipes for drugs, there are bottles of alcohol and bullet casings.  There are gang members and drugs dealers and dangers around every corner for these kids.  so if you think about your city because these areas exist in them all, please really think about what these kids who never asked for this have to go through just to live every day before you think you understand it.  Just take a minute to change your perspective.

♥ Meggie

Boston, Chicago, Cats and a Dance

Before I start this blog, I want to thank the lovely ladies Caroline and Daniela again.  Caroline has been just wonderful (click here for her blog).  She is supportive and kind and sweet and I love her blog!  Daniela is another wonder woman I’ve met on this site (click here for her blog) and she just wrote such an amazingly sweet blog about Mexico City and how she was thinking of me any my boyfriend and our struggles.  I just felt so honored.  I honestly don’t even have enough words in my vocabulary to describe these beautiful, amazing women and I’m so glad I decided to start blogging otherwise I would have never met them!

Now I have TONS of things to get into and I don’t want to make this blog a novel.  First, as many of you have heard, 2 bombs went off at the end of the Boston Marathon killing 3 people and severely injuring hundreds.  My heart goes out to everyone and I feel so awful about everything.  This was a terrible event.  I just want to point out a few things.  The first is as many have already pointed out, this was a horrible tragedy and those words don’t even begin to cover it, however there are some amazing people.  The runners who continued to run to the nearest hospital to donate blood and those who open their homes to strangers that were displaced after this happen and so many more who acted as first responders that were audience members or runners.  You are my hero and the world would be an awful place without people like you because YOU ARE AMAZING AND WE ALL LOVE YOU! ♥

Second there is one thing that is annoying me and actually making me furious.  The News.  First, when this happened, they couldn’t put their cameras down to help?  One new broadcast I heard, the narrator said something to the effect of “at least we were there to catch it all on camera”.  Really?  You couldn’t help people, but you filmed it.  I understand we need news, but honestly that is cold and heartless.  You would rather watch this happen and do nothing but film instead of help people whose limb have just been blown of or have sustained other injuries.  Get over yourself.

Also, get it right!  You told everyone they caught the bomber when in reality that never happened.  Then each station is putting out news about what the bomber looks like.  So far this is basically the description we are given.  He is a white, black, brown man with a white hat worn backwards or a green hat or bald who ran from the scene or walk away.  Really?  Then the FBI had to release a statement saying basically telling the news to shut up, stop jumping to conclusions and get the information right.  So honestly news networks, as of right now, you are useless, bias, awful television programming who, just like politicians, would rather do something for your own benefit rather than do something useful.  Obviously this is a generalization, not every single news caster is like that, but the ones who are, you should be ashamed of yourself and your inability to do anything useful.

Next is about my home, my Chicago.  My neighborhood along with many others around me have been declared “in a state of emergency”.  The city and neighboring suburbs are flooded and I mean flooded!  Ramps to get onto the highway are completely submerged.  What is normally a 15 minute drive to work took an hour and I literally drove through a lake where the road used to be.  I even saw an ambulance drive by towing an inflatable motor boat.  It’s bad, but one positive thing about this morning is that there was minimal road rage!  Everyone was letting people merge without fingers or horns sounding, they just let people in and waved thanks, which is so uncommon to see.  It was very nice and refreshing!

However, the lovely nonprofit Feral Fixers (feralfixers.org) is not having such a great time. For more info you can go to their website.  Tammy, the founder, houses cats in her basement (they are all in their own kennels which are cleaned and taken care of by a multitude of volunteers and Tammy herself, so don’t worry about them living in awful conditions or anything).  This morning she had 6 inches of water, so they moved all 14 cats out of the basement and started looking for temporary homes, which they found.  However those 6 inches have turned into over 6 feet of water.  Here are some photos of Tammy’s basement

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They have lost a lot of supplies and are in dire need of everything from cat food & litter to paper plates and bowls and blankets (click here for the full list of items) so if anyone lives in the Chicagoland area, Feral Fixers is located in Lombard and they need our help!  There is also an option to order items online and have them shipped to Feral Fixers.  If you would like to donate money you can always donate here on their Website or you can vote for a photo I took and all of the money raised from this photo goes to Feral Fixers.  Click here for all of the detail about that.  Finally we have an event Sunday in St. Charles and Recycled2New will be there.  Click here for all of the info on that.  Thank you for any and all help!!

Last but not least, WAR Chest Boutique, which is part of Women at Risk International is dancing on the street of Naperville this Saturday at 1pm in front of Anderson’s Bookshop to raise awareness of WAR and other women’s risk issues, everything from trafficking to abuse and more (Click here for my blog about it and here for event details). Please come visit us and join us in this so we can fight together!  If you come, try to wear something red!  Those are our colors and I look forward to seeing people!!

Thank you for everything!  All of the support and any help you can give Feral Fixers or for those who come out to support WAR and thank you for taking the time out of you day to read my blog or read this super long blog!  I feel so lucky an blessed, especially in light of recent occurrences.  Thank you! ♥

Chicago Schools are Disappearing

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a while, I’ve just been so busy with school and my internship, I haven’t had time to sit and write about this pressing issue, something that needs to be addressed.

In Chicago, our Mayor has decided to close down 54 schools, 54 Chicago Public Schools and move all of those kids to different schools in other areas.  Why is this a problem?  Why should we be upset?  They are just moving to a different school right?

Wrong, the school that are being closed down, guess where they are, low-income neighborhoods.  Now these kids have to travel farther to school through very very dangerous neighborhoods.  These neighborhoods are plagued with violence and that is just a news story, that is just what you hear when you live near Chicago or any other large city, each has their own share of crime, but suburbanites like myself aren’t apart of that life so it’s a story.

Put yourself in their shoes, think of these kids, living through what they do every single day of their life!!!!  Really think!  Imagine growing up where gunshots are the soundtrack to your life and seeing those around you disappear, either innocent victims of violent crimes or getting involved in something they shouldn’t because they see no other way out. Imagine going to a Chicago Public School,  it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the education they are receiving is not great.  Don’t get me wrong, you can always do something with your life if you apply yourself even in CPS, however, this school system does not give these kids the support they need.  These kids are constantly being told no, whether it is indirectly or directly, facing these obstacles in society or facing prejudice because they are those kids from those neighborhoods, they are just criminals right? No worth, no future so why invest time in them?

I’ll tell you exactly why.  They are our future, they are children who deserve love and a chance in life, they deserve positivity and people who look at them and say good job, I can’t wait to see you go to college, I can’t wait to see the picture you drew today, I can’t wait to put your ‘A’ paper on the fridge, I can’t wait to see you every day succeed in the struggles you face that most of us know nothing about.

Look at my life for example.  I live in the suburbs, I have a perfect, loving family who smiles and has fun and fights and yells and laughs, we do everything, each day loving each other even more than before.  I went to elementary school completely carefree and then middle school, where I got my first experience in real life.  A boy in my 7th grade class, one who I tried to tutor and spend time with during school, helping him with studies, even though he wouldn’t listen most of the time.  He was very smart, just unmotivated.  He overdosed on meth and was gone.  That was scary and unexpected and sad.

Then I went to high school, walked there every day, the most I had to worry about was it being too cold outside or too hot on my walk to school, but most days Mom drove me because of how heavy my book bag was.  We did have security guards in school and a few arms police officers, but nothing huge.  There were fights, but nothing terrible ever happened.  No one was killed, no one had knives or guns, there were no gangs.  I did really good grade wise, good enough to get a large academic scholarships to a private college along with a piano scholarship, once again my entire family and all of my friends supported and backed me even though I felt lost, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.  Now, I’m graduating, have an internship at a nonprofit and I love when I’m doing with my life.

I’ve had my struggles, I watched as my grandmother’s health slowly deteriorated as lung cancer took her life and I watched my grandfather slowly lose his memory.  I’ve watch my mother struggle after her 3rd back surgery which left her with incredibly complex and painful nerve problems because her surgeon did not do everything he should have.  I’ve had my own problems I’ve had to deal with, but I have never been shot at, I’ve never even heard a gun shot in real life.  I’ve never seen any drug use or been exposed to that life directly, I’ve never lost anyone to violence.  I’ve never been afraid to play in my front yard, or leave my house for that matter.  I’ve never been afraid to go out at night, or walk down certain street.  I don’t worry about the people on that side of the street who hate the people on my side of the street or have been afraid of people that stand on the street corners “conducting business”, because we don’t have that where I live.  We take these things for granted because we don’t have to worry about small things like this, these kids do.  At a certain point you know right from wrong and can make your own decisions, but can we blame a 10-year-old for getting involved in negative, awful things he or she sees every single day of their life?  Shouldn’t we be working to keep that out of their life and keep the positive in?

Now with the closing of these schools, kids have to walk farther from their homes, through gang infested areas, areas afflicted with the disease of drugs, infection of gambling and scarred by bullet casings and the lives they took.  This is what they’ll be forced to walk through as they try to get an education.  I urge you to click here and watch this video of a group of mothers and students who take a walk, the walk that their kids will now have to take to their new school, an extra 12 blocks through sidewalks with needles and alcohol bottles on the ground, but luckily no one was outside because they went on a “good day”.

Now the reason that our Mayor is doing this is to work on decreasing a $1 billion deficit (click here for that article).  I think there can be a better solution that taking away schools for kids who live in extremely dangerous areas. The Mayor has also just approved the building of a condominium in the River North area (a hot real estate location in our city) that costs $29 million.  We don’t need another condo complex or at least that project can wait so our children can have their schools, their education which affects their future.  Here is are two articles (click here and here) about the building of this condo complex if you would like to read about it.  It was difficult to find information about it.  The first is definitely against the building of this condo and the second article I found because it is neutral on the subject, even a bit supportive, which is very important to me, to find an article that isn’t necessarily written to fit my argument, but I want to demonstrates both sides.  However I still think it’s clear, we could use the money for something else, like keeping our children safe.

They want to remove these schools because they are under utilized.  I read one article, I believe it is the article that had the video about the walk to the schools, that suggested that half of the school should be a community center, or an area where adults can get their GED or something like that and I think a community center would be a great idea.  Not only that, these kids won’t have to put themselves in more danger by walking farther to school and they’d have a safe place to go after school.  I know an idea like this would need man power, however it’s better than closing schools and exposing these kids to even more danger than they already are exposed to.

I would like to finish this entry with this, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, I challenge you to walk the path these kids will have to.  Do it without your security guards, without police officer, at night, during the day, walk as an average person and as you walk, picture yourself as a child.  Let’s see how much you agree with this idea after walking on these streets with out your guards or you money protecting you, seeing what these kids live through on their street that you are forcing them every day, the dangers you are exposing them to.

This is frustrating and upsetting and I don’t even understand how anyone could make this decision, putting our youth, our future, our children in danger like this.  Their life is hard enough and dangerous enough as is, do you honestly want to put them in more danger?  I’m in the process of writing a letter the Mayor, expressing my anger and shock at his poor decision.  Below is the address for the mayor’s office if you would like to join me in my anger and frustration at this absurd decision.  Even if you don’t live in Chicago and agree that this is an awful idea, write a letter too because if you don’t agree with this, you wouldn’t want your city using Chicago as an example to do something similar if the debate ever arose.

Remember always and forever, every single decision you make, big or small, it will always affect someone else, so before you make it, take a walk in their shoes and really think about the people.

Mayors Office: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

121 N LaSalle Street
Chicago City Hall 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60602

You Can’t Get Married!

Today is the first day Prop. 8 is being heard in the Supreme Court.  For those who don’t know, Prop. 8 makes it illegal for same-sex couples to get married in the state of California.  Why is this so important to the entire country?  If this law is determined to be unconstitutional, then other laws banning same-sex marriage in other states will be unconstitutional and then men will only marry men and women will only marry women and our children will turn gay and then we’ll have to debate whether it is o.k. to marry animals and then the U.S. will erupt into complete nd total CHAOS!  Right?

In all seriousness, I am in COMPLETE support of gay marriage.  I think forbidding it is discrimination and a limitation of basic human rights, the right of equality and to love and to find happiness.

Now, the argument against gay marriage is religious and there is really nothing else that is preventing this.  The argument of well they could just fake it to get various benefits doesn’t make sense because Heterosexual couples can do that too and aside from that, I haven’t heard any non-religious argument against gay marriage.

Here’s the thing, if you are against same-sex marriage because of your religion that is fine.  Not everyone will agree on the same things.  If that is what you are a firm believer in, then stick to it. However, don’t be cruel about it.  There is a difference in opposing something and just being a disgusting person.  Those who commit acts of violence against homosexuals are disgusting and that is NOT part of Christianity last time I checked or any other religion.  Those who run around saying “you disgusting (insert slur here), burn in hell, you are useless abominations to this planet, go die”, that is not Christian either, so don’t back up your hatred with religion because you are NOT religious if you treat your fellow-man that way.  I have met plenty of religious people (most of whom are friends and family since half of my family consists of strict Christians who are against same-sex marriage) who say “I just don’t think they should be able to marry because marriage is between man and woman” (which I personally don’t agree with or understand why not) BUT they leave it at that or explain their opinion in a nice way to start a discussion!  They have their disagreements but they aren’t mean or violent or hateful, they just disagree, accept them as fellow humans who deserve to be treated as such, but that is their opinion and if they voice it appropriately, then let them have it.  Not only that, even though you don’t have the same opinion as I do, keep it, stand by it and stand strong!  Just be nice. 🙂

I’ve heard a lot of arguments against gay marriage and I know they’ve been talked about a lot already, how some don’t make much sense at all.  For example, the argument that children should have both a male and female figure in their lives.  So we should make families that only have a mom or dad (not divorced couples that have split visitation or something like that), we should make it illegal for them to have a child because kids need both a mom and dad.

The next one is that it’s unnatural to have a child when you cannot produce it yourself.  Ok, then infertile couples shouldn’t go to clinics to try to have a child because that is unnatural and we should DEFINITELY outlaw Viagra because if you can’t participate in sex naturally, then it is just not meant to be.  Those are just two of many arguments that don’t make sense to me.  Then there is the entire slippery slope argument of if we allow gay marriage, then what is next? We can marry animals?! No, that is ridiculous people. Come on, really?

Now, I know I might be coming off as abrasive, but this is just something that I just don’t understand and is so upsetting to me.  I am not a lesbian, I’m 100% straight and it still upsets me.  We did not create love so who are we as human beings to define what love is or who has the right to express love through marriage?!  A marriage is a legally binding contract, not religious at its center.  Obviously it means more than that to some if they want it to have religious significance.  To me personally, it’s not a contract under God, it is just a statement of my undying love, my devotion to one man for the rest of my life.  However you view marriage, whether it is religious or not or somewhere in between, it is beautiful and exciting, a union of two people who love each other so much, so why must we deny that right to two people in love?

We used to not give rights to people of different skin colors, we used to not allow interracial marriage (I believe it wasn’t until 1967 that all laws forbidding interracial marriage were declared unconstitutional) but still they were looked down upon.  When my white grandmother wanted to marry my Puerto Rican grandfather, her mother cried for 3 days.  When my white mom wanted to marry my half PR father IN THE 1980s, people told them that they’d have zebra children, to marry in their own race and that their kids would be black with tails.  Without interracial marriage, I would not be here and its hard being mixed sometimes because I’ll have people say, it’s ok you look white or that I can’t call myself PR.  It’s 2013 and I have just felt a small part of discrimination and it hurts, so I can’t imagine if I wasn’t allowed to marry my boyfriend who is Mexican because that wasn’t right.

When I give the example of interracial marriages, some come back with the argument that it’s the sex that is the problem.  Well in interracial marriages sex was the problem too, it might not have been forbidden by the Bible, but even like my mom was told “you should marry in your own race” which is also talking about sex because mixed children would be bad.

To sum up everything, and I know this is going to sound insensitive, but I live in the United States, where church and state are separate and that is the reason we separated from England in 1776.   So unless there are some arguments are not influenced by religion, then there shouldn’t be legislation outlawing it.  It’s fine if those are your personal beliefs and if you want to discuss those in a non-political situation, but legislation is government which is separate from religion.  Our government is not the church or part of the church so don’t make laws where I have to abide by the Christian religious text because I am not Christian.  You are totally able to voice your opinion in a nice way, but don’t make laws the require me to adhere or anyone to a religious text.

I think it is just as wrong as racial discrimination and would much rather see a same-sex couple provide an amazing loving home for a child who doesn’t have a loving family rather than Snooki or any girl from the Teen Mom series have kids.  That should be illegal!  If you’re going to criticize family, criticize the ones that need to be, the ones neglecting their children, beating them, ignoring them, not ones that provide love and love each other.

We as flawed human beings, whether we are the President, King or Queen, Priest, Teacher, Mother or Father or receptionist for an insurance brokerage, it is not our right to determine that people cannot marry when they love each other because we cannot define what we didn’t create.  It breaks my heart, knowing that there is still this discrimination and negativity toward our fellow-man, our brothers and sister who we are to love.  I don’t understand it at all and I just truly hope that the Supreme Court makes the fair decision, the one not influenced by one faith’s beliefs.  That was not what this country was founded on, our country was founded on the right to freedom and happiness, a separate church and state and equal opportunities for everyone.

Please Help

I’ve been so busy with school lately, I haven’t had any time to blog or read anyone else’s blogs!  This one will be short.

I was approached by a friend who sent me a photo of a female Pit Bull who had been sleeping in the snow in Chicago.  She was put in Chicago Animal Control because there was no place else to put her.  My friend sent me her photo to see who I could contact to find a home for her.  There was a very frustrating experience that accompanied several emails that I had sent, but that is another blog and not the important issue here.

What is important is finding this dog a home.  If she isn’t picked up by March 11, 2013 she will be put down.  I’m trying everything.  I’ve posted her photo on Facebook and 7 people have shared that information, I’ve posted her photo on my Tumblr account which I’ve set up for the sole purpose of finding homes for homeless animals (www.tumblr.com/blog/chicagoanimallove if you want to check it out), I’ve posted her photo so many times on Twitter I’ve lost count.  I’ve emailed shelters and they can’t do anything without her having a foster.

They even said it is so hard to do with a Pit Bull because everyone believe all of the awful stereotypes about Pits so no one wants to adopt them and would rather let them die.  When I told one woman I was trying to find a home for a Pit Bull, she looked at me in disgust and said “Why?!”  I told her because they are animals, living creature that deserve just as much love as any other dog.  If you raise them to be aggressive, then they will be, but if you love them they will love you back.  You can click here to read my blog about Pit Bull Prejudice and click here for the article about Pit Bulls stating they are loving wonderful dogs.

Please, if you can help find a home for this dog, I would be so grateful.  I wish I could foster or adopt her myself, however I can’t afford a dog and I’m living with my family and with the health problems of my parents and our combined allergies, we can’t have a dog in the house.  If we could, I would have already picker her up.

Please help this dog, please.  You can contact me at chicagoanimals@gmail.com and I can get you foster papers or adoption papers and get you in contact with the American Animal Rescue Society.  That is the organization that is trying to find her a home.If you can just foster her for a while, just so they don’t put her down.  Post her photo on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, please help us find her a home or a temporary home that will be the stepping stone to her forever family.

Thank you for any help.

3-6-13 pit bull

Release Your Tongue!

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!