A Criminal -- And A Victim

A Criminal -- And A Victim

Medium is a relatively new site with a mix of in-house and outside contributions, and there are occasionally posts related to education and/or Chicago.  One of them I recently came across, written by @bensk, is called The Conspiratorial Racism of White People, who describes being contacted by lawyers from the City of Chicago about an article he'd written about a student who'd been killed by CPD in 2010 -- one of four Hyde park Academy seniors killed that April (among 27 CPS students killed and 218 shot in 2010

While CPD was apparently justified in shooting Izael, and lawyers were there only because his parents were suing the city for wrongful death, they make the mistake of telling writer Ben that they didn't think the kid could have been a lawyer or doctor.

It's not so much that Ben doesn't agree with the reality that's being described, but rather to the notion that kids like this were entirely responsible for how things turned out for them:

"Was [Izael] going to become a doctor? No, probably not. But he wasn’t likely to become a doctor on April 24th. Nor in 2000, nor when he was born. In Chicago, an African American male has a 2% chance of graduating from college by the time he’s 25.

"Izael was a criminal. But he was also the victim of the same power structures and social mores that make my life free of police intrusion, and made his end in police gunfire...

"It wasn’t anything either of them did that made being a doctor a joke that this lawyer thought we could share. It was the city of Chicago, it was America, 2010, that made doctor a joke. I’m not willing to be in on the joke."

What do you think?

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  • Nonsense, their own behavior, going back years, had everything to do with why the idea of their being a doctor was a joke. Teachers in these schools will do a lot to help any child who shows that they are willing to put in the effort to actually learn. (I've been there as both teacher and parent) As for "the social mores that make my life free of police intrusion", that's determined not by the whole city of Chicago, but by the culture of a small slice of it. Large amounts of taxpayer money have been spent trying to change that culture, to make it less violent, to provide more paths to success. This city, like many others in the past 50 years, has tried very hard. What we haven't done is make clear to Izael and his friends that ultimately they must put in the effort, too.

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