…life from my perspective
Black People alone ARE NOT TO BLAME for the violence and homicides that occur on our blocks as regularly as your friendly postman on the 1st and 15th. Though our young brothers pull triggers and our young sisters die innocent victims, the perpetrators alone cannot be held completely responsible for their actions. They are almost always held accountable but surely there are other hands in the pot that are responsible right? Right? If so then…who’s gonna take the weight? You are. You, your children and your children’s children. School children who can’t focus on school work because they witnessed their best friend get gunned down by stray bullets and every waking moment they wonder if they will be next. Parents who worry about the safety of their children hours on end only to send up prayers round the clock asking for God’s favor as he watch over our children and keep them safe from harm. Educators, mentors and people of service who have to physically defend themselves against the very ones they’ve been put in charge to guide, serve and protect. And while we can talk about self-hate, racism, sky high unemployment rates, minimal political representation, sub-standard schools, food deserts, single-parent households, economic disparity, poor black leadership, absentee fathers, lack of parental guidance, poor diet, the absence of morals, dehumanizing rap lyrics, weave, reality TV, reefers, liquors, sexual promiscuity and getting money, the fact remains you pulled the trigger and snuffed out the life of an innocent person who never wronged you. The fact remains you stood toe-to-toe in the face of that teacher prepared to strike. That very teacher who is overworked, underpaid and reports to school everyday to teach your ungrateful black ass something because they’re not ready to give up on you just yet. The fact remains you have no qualms about looking your enemy in the eye, placing the hollow point in the center of their head and pulling the trigger as you watch the life leave from their body before you turn to walk or run away. The fact remains that most of us shift the focus to external factors that certainly play a major role in one’s socialization but place last on the list the role of personal responsibility in said acts. And THIS will be the death of us. It’s sort of like a single mother who attempts to justify her son’s ill behaviour by berating the absentee father. Same thing. As I discuss Chicago’s violence with my brethren, I think my birth city has topped out as the nation’s murder capitol, I oftentimes hear the convo re-directed. Discussions related to how society has failed these “new age slave masters” who walk our mean streets and how the lack of opportunity and resources creates such a climate for these acts to occur usually ensues. And while I doubt any of us will excuse or justify the senseless killing of our innocent children by the hands of others who look like them, when we FAIL to acknowledge the bad apples in the bunch and REFUSE to accept we can’t save them all, we lend the impression that society is to blame and not the perpetrator which is a reasoning I am no longer buying into. We can teach love now to save future generations but what do you do about the fucking fools wildin’ on our streets now? What we gone do about THEM? How do we stop THEM? Like the homey TJ say it’s NOT an either or it’s a BOTH AND. Everyone has a choice but I’m not sure if everyone understands the consequences associated with their choices – the immediate AND the long term.
Quiet as kept, I don’t want to come back. I mean I miss my mama hugs and her greens, my sister’s jokes, my sons, the BFF, Chipotle and Chicago sunshine but the safety and ease I feel when I walk these B’Ham streets isn’t like that of home. To be honest though I’ve never been afraid to travel anywhere in Chicago be it on foot, in my car or on public transportation: Purple Line, Yellow Line, Red Line, Green Line, Blue Line AND the metra. Northbrook, Andersonville, 51st, 79th AND Matteson. I’ve run from the South Side Cultural Center to North Ave beach and back. But even in all this there is, without question, a cloud of anxiety, oppression and paranoia that envelops you the minute the plane hits the tarmac at O’Hare. But why is it so? Are the people where I am MORE kind and loving? No. God is love and his presence is everywhere. Are the people where I am MORE civilized? No. Being civilised is not restricted to a specific group of people based on their geographic location. Are the people where I am MORE happy? Possibly. Are the people where I am LESS black? It’s Black British, Africans AND AFRO Caribbeans over here. You can’t get no blacker than that! Are the people where I am LESS poor? I doubt it. Are the people where I am LESS violent? I wouldn’t feel comfortable making such a claim. Where I am, random gun violence is almost non-existent though guns do exchange hands in the underworld and those in that life may meet a terrible fate. Yes there are gangs, drug dealers, knife stabbings and robberies here but most of the time the assailants know their victims and such acts are targeted. And due to the gun laws most violent incidences involve knives so the attack is up close and deliberate leaving little in the way of random victims. The point I’m making is innocent children at the park, swinging on the swings aren’t shot by stray bullets. Senior citizens walking home from playing the lottery aren’t shot by stray bullets. Young, promising HS scholars with bright futures who happen to be walking home from school on any given day aren’t shot by stray bullets. Infant babies in the back seat in car seats aren’t shot by stray bullets or bullets intended for someone else. Children out with their mama and cousins in the park with other adults present, watching the fireworks and enjoying the summer ARE NOT SHOT BY STRAY BULLETS. And WHAT kind of person must you be to open fire on a crowd of women and children? Is your life THAT fucked up? You got THAT much to prove? And IF the thought of killing an innocent victim – a baby, that mother’s daughter, that father’s son – don’t shake your soul before you pull that trigger, you ain’t no brother of mine.
The gun laws and American culture are to blame. America reinforces her strength and power through violence and brute force. Other nations have come to expect this of her so in time she’s become feared and revered. Her reputation precedes her so most play nice and bow down or bow out to avoid becoming her next victim. She sees what she wants and she stops at nothing to get it. Casualties of war is the price of doing business. That’s our culture. That’s what we teach and these dumb ass numb skulls are following suit. Black folk don’t own the rights to poverty or disenfranchisement. You got people who come from some of the poorest undeveloped countries all over the world that we who live in America couldn’t even vacation in. Most days I wash my hands of it. I say if the stupid fools want to kill themselves over dumb shit then let them do what they gone do cause it’s gone be what it is anyway. Other days I ignore it as if it doesn’t exist by focusing on my blessings and giving thanks for being able to see the world, experience different cultures and meet people of ALL RACES and ALL COLORS who ARE kind, compassionate, friendly and helpful. People of ALL RACES and ALL colors who DO live in mixed communities, side by side one another where shootouts and stray bullets is virtually non-existent. Discovering that we are more similar than we are different. Learning that my Pakistani nemesis buddy ALSO listens to TuPac, thinks Dave Chapelle is hilarious and shares my same political views though he’ll never know because I refuse to appear anti-American. I know. I know. A black woman born and raised in America defending America. I NEVER thought that I would but now that I’m here I feel that it’s my duty. Strange but true. I just want to bury myself in this make believe place where my life is a perpetual journey of self-discovery through world travel. Where I learn about myself and others and the world by discovering the unknown. Navigating unchartered territory. All the while seeking God’s strength to guide and protect me as I learn to trust him by accepting everything that comes with this. But at the end of the day I know this can’t be life. Eventually I will have to return to the hell that I already know. The Devils that won’t let my people rest. Sad part is many of my people living in that hell are already dead. I’m not ready to die.