Sometimes a single thought, comment or headline can halt one’s racing thoughts in their tracks, immediately re-orienting the perspective of what you consider most important.
Whether it pertains to one’s personal life, worldview, or both, some realities are sobering enough as to serve as a re-boot for the issues that have come to consume us, rendering them temporarily insignificant.
America has become ceaselessly guilty of being consumed and preoccupied with the relatively petty issues that clog the American news cycle. Alleged scandals, perceived slights, and flaws of character garner countless articles written, cable-news hours produced, and words uttered.
America’s obsession with minutia is nothing short of mentally numbing.
Which is why one headline served as the startling reminder of America’s most pressing yet chronically unresolved issue: black lives being stolen at the hands of gun violence and those who perpetrate it.
As I conducted my daily perusal of the news cycle, it leapt off the screen, no hyperbole needed to sell its noteworthiness:
One weekend, six people shot dead, and 37 more who could have been added to Chicago’s sky-high homicide count.
This did not even account for the 13-year-old girl stabbed and beaten to death on Sunday evening.
In other words, just another day in inner-city America, Chicago serving as the archetype for shared urban ills, particularly wanton gun violence.
Elections come and go, but some things in America never seem to change.
Liberals whine about the plight of minorities. Conservatives lament the role that government has played in the degradation of urban America.
And black Americans, mostly under the age of 35, continue to dispel and absorb bullets that claim the lives of victims both intended and accidental.
Some acknowledge the severity of homicide rates in the inner-city. Most, particularly prominent news outlets, ignore the issue completely. After all, what is newsworthy about black on black crime? It’s not news if it’s the norm, right?
Even when a white cop shoots a black person who turns out to be unarmed, and the issue of inner-city crime and gun violence is catapulted to the forefront of the media cycle, the larger picture often is not acknowledged.
The reason cop-on-civilian shootings, particularly ones interracial in nature, receive such disproportionate media attention is because they are a relatively rare occurrence. But when we talk about correcting the chronic issues that most threaten Americans, talking about rarities serves little purpose.
Yet, the rare shootings are what we as Americans choose to spend the most amount of words and energy discussing. That is, on the rare occasions when we decide the loss of American lives are even worth talking about.
Most of the time, a child hit by a stray bullet or a neighborhood plagued by gang violence, innocent citizens caught in a daily crossfire goes completely unnoted. Just another day in the inner-city.
So, I would be remiss if I did not dedicate at least some of my words to bringing attention to the issue. I won’t profess to have a solution, but I’ll be damned if I don’t acknowledge the plague of gun violence across American metropoles.
As of this writing on June 13th, yesterday alone saw five more bodies added to the tally of Chicago’s 2017 homicide count. Among them were 15-year-old Julio Cesar Garcia-Lara, 39-year-old Clancy Beasley, and a 20-year-old John Doe.
In Chicago, ‘progress’ regarding gun violence looks like June 12th. What I mean by that, is that five lifeless bodies are less than the previous day’s count of six. This grim, body-count determination of how good or bad a day was for Chicago’s residents, police officers, medics, and hospital personnel is nothing new.
However, the fact that a problem is not new does not justify its lack of acknowledgment. The reality that gun violence has gotten progressively worse in Chicago over the years makes this appearance of apathy in terms of media coverage even more despicable.
Consider the neighborhood you live in. For most of us, a murder would be an unforgettable, psyche-rattling occurrence. Something that is simply unheard of.
You most certainly don’t live in the bowels of Chicago.
Last year, Chicago served as the undignified home of more homicides than New York and Los Angeles combined, despite having approximately 1/6th of those cities’ combined population.
762 murders were committed in Chicago in 2016. That was a 19-year high, and this year, while seeing a mild reduction from last year’s pace, has been marred by more bloodshed.
275 people have been murdered in Chicago this year. Last year, 266 were dead at this time. Progress, Chicago style.
I don’t intend to make light of the issue, the opposite is true. The lack of media coverage of such a dire, literally life-and-death problem is so appalling, so damning in its indictment of agenda-based reporting that one cannot help but resort to sarcasm.
Only time will tell if inner-city violence is something that can be seriously curbed, as it was under the likes of Rudy Giuliani in New York, or whether a steady upward trend in homicides will continue.
Gang members are reportedly resorting more and more to using high-powered rifles. Gentrification has its limits, and only so much can be done to root out crime. The media sure isn’t doing its part in bringing attention to the issue to force a solution; neither is the ironically named ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
So no, I don’t see much changing anytime soon.
But let the record show that gun violence in the inner city is a top priority for myself and many other Americans, even if you’d never know that from watching the cable news.