Monday, October 27, 2008

Hudson's horror highlights a city in crisis

Imagine this scenario: terrorists attack one of America’s greatest cities: the city of Chicago. Four hundred thirty people are killed and countless other are injured. Survivors are traumatized. Children are afraid to go outside. In support of the victims, people all over Chicago and the country patriotically display American flags in their windows and on their cars to send the message that they will never give in to the terrorists. The United States works tireless to plan to retaliate to defend its people, assert its international authority, punish the aggressors and to help Americans, especially Chicagoans, feel secure again.

The mayor of Chicago, the police, and the everyday people turn out to be heroes during this crisis. Measure are taken to study why the attack has happened and how to prevent another attack

This scenario is not so far from reality in Chicago today (except for the heroic parts). About 430 people have been murdered in Chicago in 2008, designating the city the notorious title of murder capital of the United States. The murderers may not be foreign born terrorists, however, the killers are no doubt terrorizing the citizens of Chicago, making the decision of the Batman producers to film Gotham City in the Second City a sadly suitable choice beyond the fitting aesthetics of the dark streets of lower Wacker drive. Indeed, Chicago could use a Batman NOW! in this crime ridden city when the head of the police department and the mayor only demonstrate effete leadership qualities in this crisis.

If the number of people who have died from violent crimes in Chicago had been the victim of Al Quaeda, there would be hell to pay and the greatest minds in the country would be searching for solutions to alleviate, avenge and prevent the tragedies. Instead, there have been nothing but excuses (including that because top gang leaders have been jailed a war is going on for control on the streets.)

Chicago’s violent crime problem has come to light this weekend in the wake of the murders of actress and singer Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew in one of the City’s most violent neighborhoods on the South Side: Englewood.

While I hate that my beloved city is highlighted for this horror, I think that it could be a good thing for the City. It may force Chicago, with the help of the state and federal governments, to seek innovative and creative solutions to help lower the murder rate.

The reason that the focus on this issue has been limited is because most of the victims have been poor minorities as Chicago is still largely a segregated city. I only know of one murder in my neighborhood this year.

However, 8 miles south of my residence, people live in fear of going outside. While I hear the sounds of drunk 20somethings coming from the bars, they hear the sounds of screams and gunshots.

What is the solution? I have no idea. However, I do know that just as if there were a terrorist attack killing 430 people in Chicago, we need to focus our resources both intellectual and monetary to solve the problems and stop the killings.

Chicago is home to two top 10 universities: University of Chicago and Northwestern University. In addition, other top thinkers teach and work at University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul and Loyola universities. Why not bring the top thinkers of these universities, in addition to police, educators, church officials, community organizers and even some politicians (as long as they are quiet and just listen) to brainstorm solutions? Just like the 911 commission, they can publish recommendations at the end of their findings to be implemented by the City.

The Hudson tragedy is horrific. But perhaps, due to her celebrity, she will give voice to others who live in her mother’s neighborhood who have suffered similar losses. And perhaps this case will shed light on the problem of violence that is plaguing some of Chicago’s neighborhoods with seemingly no end in sight. Whatever the reasons, gang violence, drugs, the downturn in the economy, solutions need to be found and they need to be found now. And the fact that the problems are not easy to solve is no excuse for not trying.

Because if these deaths were caused by foreign terrorists, you can be sure that solutions would be found, and found immediately: just because the victims are poor and largely from minority populations, does not make their deaths any less tragic. Their deaths should not be in vain and justice should not just take the form of incarcerating the killers. Justice requires solving the underlying problems that are causing the crimes.


dirk said...

The victims are mostly poor Black people killed by other poor, Black people. Unfortunately no amount of hand outs, marching or UC think-tanking will solve the underlying social pathologies in the Black community. Perhaps when the communities that breed the killers decide to embrace law, order, education, marriage, work and sobriety, they will find themselves with safer neighborhoods. In other words, don't hold your breath.

sharna said...

Dirk, I think your comment is ridiculous and racist. What comprises a community? Aren't the people who have died in Chicago this year due to violence all apart of our community?

And if these so called pathologies exist, don't whites have some responsibility for their evolution? With that said, I don't buy that it's a black problem, and it's hard for me to imagine that you can justify claims that resemble social Darwinism.

dirk said...

I think your comment in a nutshell illustrates why the problem has festered for decades. Instead of seeing what's in plain sight, you see racism where none exists. Apparently, if someone says Blacks have a problem and need to heal themselves, you lose control of your senses. And if you don't think it's a Black problem, why don't you go live in a Black neighborhood instead of your safe, Caucasian, liberal enclave where no one challenges your illusions? BTW, love the blog.

sharna said...

you're being racist. you may think your racism is correct. but it's still racism.

the people dying are poor. there skin color has nothing to do with it or their so called communities.

Bruce said...

Dirk - you are a racist, no doubt ... but ... you're also an ill-informed bigot. As William Julius Wilson showed in his widely respected book "The Declining Significance of Race" African Americans show no measurable difference in their acceptance of traditional "American values" related to family, marriage, work, education, law and order, military service - or any other category your ignorant, bigoted, racist mind can dream up.

What you say is just not true Dirk - and you repeating it over and over - like another ignorant little Republican robot - won't make it come true, either. Read a book dude - the mind and soul you save might be your own.

Norman said...

Dirk, you have two sentences here which may have led Sharna and Bruce to think you're being racist.

"Unfortunately no amount of hand outs, marching or UC think-tanking will solve the underlying social pathologies in the Black community. Perhaps when the communities that breed the killers decide to embrace law, order, education, marriage, work and sobriety, they will find themselves with safer neighborhoods."

There may be social pathologies in part of the "Black community," and those may even be more prevalent there. To assert that the "pathologies" are underlying and that the community (-ies) don't embrace the values you list limits not only the way you see those in the Black community, but limits the community if anyone reads or hears, and then internalizes those statements.

dirk said...

Norman, thank you for the thoughtful response. Even sitting in my pathetic, anonymous hovel, being labelled racist is unpleasant. I really do wish I had the magical thinking of your fellow commenters, where reality was only a Right wing conspiracy and those who don't share my lofty thoughts are racist, Republican robots, bigots. I would rest easily in my moral superiority, from the safe perch of the suburbs. Unfortunately, I wasn't made that way. I see things the way they are. That doesn't make me a racist, it just means I reject the politically correct group-think that forbids negative comments about those who you see only as victims and I see as responsible human beings capable of better things.