I’m an Oakland boy but the place that birthed me is in crisis and the world is numb to it. Chicago, one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen, is losing Black life at an astonishing rate. What’s worse is that very few folks outside of Chicago are discussing it. The past two weekends have been particularly bloody (read here and here).
The vast majority of my relatives live all around the Chicago area and it astonishes me how so many lives can be taken and the conversation be so small on the national front.
I’m gonna have a real moment with y’all right now. I’m that dude that people say are angry. Folks say there’s a chip there and I’ve always been this way. I go to work and intentionally walk around my entire office every single day and speak to people – not just because I’m this super friendly guy, but it’s because I know how people see me. It’s the way they’ve always seen me, so I put people at ease. But when there are so many inputs that let us know that Black life isn’t valuable and it’s reiterated to you time and time again, it changes you.
I’m talking about cops killing us, us killing us, food killing us, water killing us, education killing us, our government killing us, poverty killing us – ALL OF IT. So when we step up, we’re met with a prime mixture of animus and patronization.
The cop had due cause. Let the hood take care of itself, eventually they’ll kill each other off. We need Monsanto. Just give schools more money. Charters are manipulating you. Don’t blame teachers. If they just got jobs, this wouldn’t happen.
Get outta here with that, man! For real.
What are we doing, both collectively and individually to add value? So many people out here make money off of Black suffering. There are so many nonprofits. So many schools. So many candidates. So many books.
My people dying is a cash cow for this country!
If you’re happy in your life and have some success, I need you to mentor someone. If you’re a Black man and you spend time with your kids, bring along the kid with no daddy.
Murders go up when the temperature rises in Chicago!
How bothered do you need to be?
I just spoke on an education panel discussing the normal stuff; charter schools, achievement – you know, all the stuff reformers and anti reformers discuss. The arguments where neither side is changing the other sides mind. The spaces where we all are just taking up space. I just couldn’t get over what’s been happening to Black folks.
I feel like I just kept yelling that our education system has never really educated Black people well, especially after Brown vs. Board. I just kept going back to the shootings that happened over the weekend. Last weekend it was 40 plus shootings, this weekend (at the time of writing this) it was 18. 13 people killed. This is Chicago for people that look like I do. This is Chicago for poor folks. This is the America that poor folks of color often experience. In this story it’s Chicago, but it’s our country.
I’m all over the place so I’ll end it with this list because we can all do something:
- Be a mentor.
- Get in front of these Black boys and girls and show genuine interest in them.
- Dads and men matter – to the dads on the block, make room for another kid or two in the neighborhood. Take them with you.
- Black churches, come on now! You were and are the backbone of our communities. WE NEED YOU. There was a time when you could go to the Black church and get all the information you needed. There was a time when we used to see y’all in the streets.
- Mosques, we need you. When I was a kid, y’all had brothers on every corner as we walked to and from school. You brothers made us get to school on time, told us to respect the girls and asked us what we learned. Y’all corrected us and I always respected it, even as a Christian boy. We need y’all.
- Media, tell the stories. For real. Make this country care like you force me to care about whatever the Kardashians are doing. Why are there like five shows focusing on OJ Simpson right now? I don’t care anything about that dude.
- School leaders, both reformers and anti reformers, I want to see conversations about Black kids. Talk to me about how they’re achieving or no achieving.
- The list isn’t exhaustive. It’s clear I’m writing off pure emotion. So what I want to leave you with is DO SOMETHING!
Show these kids we care about them. Chicago, Oakland, Detroit, show em. Welcome to the Killing Season. Hopefully it’s the last one.