These past few weeks there has been an increase in violence across the city of Chicago. I live in East Garfield Park, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the city. Police District 11, which is located a little bit south of us, has the highest per capita murder and violent crime rates.
I am a huge fan of statistics. I'm not sure why, but I am. Marshall High School is located about 1.5 miles away from the center. In 2007, the % of students meeting/exceeding state standards in reading? 7%. In math? 2%. That means 93% of students at Marshall High School are behind in reading and another 98% are behind in math. Now that's a statistic.
Here's another stat about Marshall High School...the average student misses 50 days of school per year. 50 days. FIFTY DAYS. 5-0.
As soon as the students walk in the doors, they are hit with metal detectors, grave-face police officers, and yelling teachers. In Marshall High School alone, there are said to be 15 active gangs. ACTIVE. 15.And we wonder why our children are turning to violence?
This week, the violence hit pretty close to home. Octavius Daudridge, a father of 2 kids i've come to know in the neighborhood (one of which was on my basketball team) was shot and killed on Tuesday night. His sons that I know are 9 and 12.
Friday night, a young man in 8th grade, who is on one of Breakthrough's League basketball teams, got jumped. Apparently he was smashed in the head with a brick. Last time I heard, he was in critical condition at Mt. Sinai hospital and wasn't supposed to make it (We serve the God of impossibles, though, so i'm praying for a miracle).
As I looked into the eyes of Jarell and Antonio while they told me about the kid, I saw pain...pain that no 13 year old boys should ever have to go through. As I seen Rasheed (one of Octavius's sons) a couple of days ago and asked him how he was, he said ok, but I seen his eyes...I saw pain. Pain no 12 year old boy should ever have to go through. (Isaiah 41:28-31)
When does it stop? How does it stop? Does it start in the classrooms? Does it start with helping students actually meet state standards? Will that show them that education is the key to a better life? Will making education interesting to these students keep them away from gangs? Violence? Does is start at home? Does it start with parents making sure they know where their kids are at all times? Making them come in when it starts getting dark? Does it start with them teaching them morals? Does it start with Mayor Daley? Actually doing something besides talking? Does is start with him making a earlier curfew? Wait...he already did that. Does it start with the media? Does is start with people like Lil Wayne and Nelly actually telling people that violence is NOT the answer. Or at least not glorifying guns and revenge? Does it start with the media cracking down on rappers' and R&B artists' lyrics? How about the radio stations refusing to play certain songs? Does is start with Obama? Does it start with him pushing for stricter gun laws? Holding parents more accountable? Or does it start with us-the Church? Saying...enough is enough! Loving on the unlovable...giving students an alternative after school, so they aren't walking the streets and getting into all kinds of mess? Does it start with the Church acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly? Does is start with the church getting a little Holy Anger...enough that it MOVES them to do something besides just grumble and gripe about everything?
When does it stop? Who does it start with? Can we really blame our youth for turning to violence when it's all they see? Can we really blame our youth for turning to gangs, when its the only real family they have? Can we really blame our youth?
When does it stop?
"Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humilty, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..." Colossians 3:12-15a
God bless you all. And again, God have mercy on our souls.