Summer is just around the corner. In Chicago that means plenty of outdoor events, a whooooole lot of all night kickin' it and unfortunately a spike in the murder rate. For the past few years we've been experiencing record homicides, regardless of the forecast. Still in all, the rise in temperature brings with it a rise in tempers, and many of us are bracing ourselves for the worst.
Fortunately the number of fatalities has dropped over the last couple of weeks, so they say (as I'm typing this two more teens were shot, and an incident of teen violence took place on the Mag Mile). Unfortunately that's coming off of the horrific shooting death of a 6 month old infant, while lying in her fathers arms. In the media (and amongst us Chicagoans) Chi-town is being referred to as Chiraq Drillinois. How in the name of Uncle Harold, did we get such an ominous title? In my younger days there was plenty of gangbangin', fighting, drug peddling and at times killing. But so called gang members had respect for elders, didn't shoot children and didn't give the city a tough sounding nick name.
We were happy to be called "The Chi" (yet we still had that gangster reputation). We were proud of our style, the way we dressed, the way we danced, our neighborhoods our food and our music. Not how dangerous it was to walk the streets. But it seems nowadays being the murder capital is a badge of honor. What happened, how did it come to this? More importantly, what is being done to put a stop to it?!
There are many culprits being accused of causing the rampant violence. Most put the responsibility for this madness on massive poverty, a broken school system, widespread unemployment and the drug epidemic. Others blame an overwhelmed understaffed police department and a lack of parental involvement. Some even point the finger at racial oppression and rap music. Me personally, I'd say it's all of the above and then some.
I want to single out rap music for a second, because many people say that you can't blame an individuals actions on the music they listen to. While you can argue that the music is not the catalyst for negative behavior, you can't deny that it is doing absolutely nothing to create a positive influence. At the very least it glamorizes committing foul acts. Chief Keef (and I hate to use him as an example) has become the poster child for everything wrong with the youth of Chicago. Hyper-violent, sex crazed and in a constant drug and alcohol induced stupor. They seem completely devoid of moral judgement, reasoning skills or human decency.
The truth of the matter is, today's youth are experiencing a great deal of emotional and in many cases, physical trauma. They have no guidance, no assistance and no outlet for the pain and anguish they are going through. They have been left for the most part, to fend for and raise themselves. But yet they are chastised and castigated because of what they've been allowed to and sometimes taught to do.
I'm not saying that to excuse their actions, I'm simply giving a basis as to where to begin to deal with the problem. Because if all you do is attack the symptoms and not the cause, then the problem will never be solved. We cannot continue to put band-aids on bullet wounds or wait for someone to wave a magic wand and fix it. This is all of our problem, so none of us can bury our head in the sand. If, as the African proverb says, it takes a village to raise a child, then we've got work to do.
We don't need, nor can we afford to have a genocidal summer. I don't want my city to be known as Chiraq, Chiran or Chiganistan. I want everyone to get out and enjoy the summertime like we used to, not become a percentage point.
I realize this doesn't have much to do with music. But I felt the need to say it.
Randall Irwin The First